When work began on a flood mitigation project near Garden of the Gods, crews started to find fragments that indicated more than just normal debris. A team of archaeologists, including three UCCS alumni, led the excavation and in the process learned new details about how Colorado Springs founder Gen. William Palmer lived near the turn of the 20th century.
Anna Cordova, lead archaeologist for the City of Colorado Springs, discovered buried trash heaps where a FEMA flood mitigation project was to be constructed to control debris flow from the Waldo Canyon burn scar. That project was paused so the city could bring in Alpine Archaeology Consultants, which included Michael Prouty, project archaeologist, and Jenifer Lewis, field technician, to help excavate the site.
The team learned how Palmer and guests lived at Glen Eyrie, the estate he built near Queens Canyon and Garden of the Gods. Fragments of plates, bottles, light bulbs, bone and ceramics provided information on how the family lived and entertained guests, and how that compared to the region and East Coast norms at the time. The team will analyze the artifacts and publish their report ahead of the 150-year anniversary of the city’s founding in 2021.
Students in Anthropology 1020 and 3600 toured the site with Minette Church, associate professor of anthropology, and Rebecca Simon, assistant state archaeologist, soon after the discovery was made public in November 2018. Courses taught by Colin Wren, assistant professor of anthropology, and Karin Larin, assistant professor of anthropology, also toured the site in October before the public announcement. Prouty led the classes through the different sections of the site, the type of artifacts found in each area, the insight they provide to archaeologists and what the next steps were for the team. He also shared his career path from UCCS, to a master’s degree at San Diego State University and ultimately a job with Alpine Archaeology.
Cordova earned her bachelor’s degree in anthropology in 2006 and followed with a master’s in geography in 2016. Prouty graduated with his bachelor’s degree in history in 2006 with an anthropology minor. Lewis graduated in 2017 with her undergraduate degree in anthropology.
Local media coverage of discovery:
- The Gazette: New artifacts found at Garden of the Gods after trash heaps unearthed
- KXRM: Historic dig happening now at Garden of the Gods
- KKTV: First look at archaeological dig near Garden of the Gods
- KRDO: Digging up William Palmer’s artifacts at Garden of the Gods
- KOAA: Archaeological dig uncovers new clues about Colorado Springs founder