Wray Museum in Archaeology


Yuma County is home to hundreds of archaeological sites. Some of these have been discovered, but many remain buried beneath thousands of years of shifting sand. People have roamed the plains around Wray since the last Ice Age. The era pre-dating 6,500 BC is known as the Paleoindian period, referred to as a time of "Big Game Hunting" by bands of nomads. These nomadic cultures are distinguished by stone spear points made with a distinctive groove or flute where they were attached to the spear shaft.

Dutton and Selby Sites

Controversial evidence of human hunting dating back to the late Ice Age was discovered by Smithsonian Institution archaeologist Dennis Stanford in the 1970s. Broken bones of mammoths, bison, camel, horse, deer, pronghorn, and other species were discovered at the Dutton and Selby sites in Yuma County, CO. Carbon-14 dates of about 17,700 BC from Selby and 14,800 from Dutton pre-date the oldest Clovis sites by more than 1,500 years.  Also at the Dutton site, soils above the pre-Clovis bone bed contained a Clovis spear point, other stone artifacts, and broken bones of mammoth and horse. Bones found just beneath the Clovis zone yielded a Carbon-14 date of roughly 11,600 BC.  Part of the mammoth jaw bone and the Clovis point are on display.

Jones-Miller Site

In 1972 local farmer, Robert Jones was digging an irrigation system on his property south of Laird, CO, when he began to uncover bones-thousands of bones. Jones called in amateur archaeologist Reuben and Jack Miller and Mike Toft of Sterling, CO, who tested the site and decided that it was an important find. The site was excavated from 1973 to 1975 by the Smithsonian Institute, lead by Dr. Dennis Stanford with funding from the National Geographic Society.  Excavators found 41,000 bison bones, 248 stone artifacts, thousands of small animal bones and land snails. Radiocarbon dating places these kill-butchery events at about 9,500 BC. Local artist Lance Bohall, created a life-sized model sculpture of the Bison Antiquus which heralds visitors to the museum. Part of the actual bone bed and spear points from the Jones- Miller site are on display at the Wray Museum.

Later Eras

Later eras, known as the Archaic and Woodland periods, is represented by changing styles of tools and increasing evidence for the use of wild plant resources. After 150 AD containers made of ceramic appear for the first time; bow and arrow technology is introduced, and farming in a few local areas. The Wray Archaeology Club spent six months with over 600 hours of volunteer time to clean, catalog, and display the more than 800 stone artifacts at the museum. The Wray Museum Arrowhead exhibit contains Paleo, Archaic, and Woodland points, scrapers, and knives.