Archaeologist Robert Kopperl led the field investigation and told The Seattle Times that the site was a surprise to all involved. It is proof that the fish made its way up local streams for around 10,000 years.
According to Kopperl, his discovery shows that the site was probably inhabited by small groups of people associated with jobs like repairing and crafting stone tools. Decades before, the creek was used to be confined between a channel lined with rocks. Radiocarbon dating conducted on charcoal fragments that were found mixed among the tools confirmed the age of the find to be at least 10,000 years old.
This salmon restoration project was originally carried out and paid by theWashington State Department of Transportation to offset the environmental effects of building the new Highway 520 floating bridge over Lake Washington along with the widening of the roads. A place they described as centralized making it easy to hunt, fish, and gather and make new tools from stone. By digging even further they found a thick layer of peat highlighting the presence of a bog which must have been more than 10,000 years old. Surveying for construction in the area began in 2009 and Kopperl’s initial findings were not notable, which changed as his team kept going.
“This was a very good place to have a camp”, said Kopperl.
Before it became the site of the Redmond Town Center mall, the region around Bear Creek was apparently a hub of ancient activity. “Upon completion of our now ongoing analyses, the site will contribute significantly to our knowledge of the range of LPH technological traditions and human-environmental interactions in the region”.
The archaeologists, who published their findings in the journal PaleoAmerica, say chemical analysis of one tool revealed the paleolithic diet included salmon, bison, deer, and sheep.
Initially the team of archaeologists was not able to find anything noteworthy.
“It is exhausting to seek out this type of website west of the Cascades, as a result of it is so closely vegetated and the Puget Lobe of the large ice sheet actually affected the panorama”, Kopperl stated.
The discovery is significant in terms to understand how humans used to live at that time. Once analyzed, the artifacts will be returned to the Muckleshoot Tribe to be curated, since the items most likely belonged to their ancestors. Currently, there are no plans to display the artifacts publicly.