Often times when I tell people that I participated in an archaeological excavation of Fremont pit houses right here in Provo, they respond with, “What? I didn’t know that Provo had archaeology!” Not only does Provo have archaeology, but much of Utah is full of interesting reminders of the people that were here before us. Our Special Collections room focuses on Provo and Utah history, so it is a great place to find some books on Utah archaeology.
HUNTER-GATHERER ARCHAEOLOGY IN UTAH VALLEY
By Joel C. Janetski
This book is close to my heart since I know some of the people involved in its making. This is the most “archaeological” of the books on this list, meaning that it is a collection of published academic papers on hunter-gatherer sites around Utah Valley. Excavations are at the heart of archaeological research, and these reports include artifacts found, maps of stratigraphy (those layers in the dirt that tell archaeologists a lot), and cool photos and illustrations of artifacts and site maps. There are tables, graphs, and charts, info on burials, and illustrations of stone points and pot sherds found (yes, it’s sherds not shards, but that’s a conversation for another time). It’s neat to browse through site reports like this, but you should always read the summary and conclusions section to get a good overview of what was found at the site during excavation. Just writing about this makes me long for my university days, excavating and writing up reports just like this. Excuse me while I get lost in nostalgia.
HORNED SNAKES AND AXLE GREASE: A ROADSIDE GUIDE TO THE ARCHAEOLOGY, HISTORY, AND ROCK ART OF THE NINE MILE
Maybe you’ve heard of Nine Mile Canyon? If you haven’t, it’s time for a road trip! The name is a little misleading, as the canyon is actually much longer than nine miles, but its fame is legendary. This area is famous for tons of Fremont rock art in the form of structures and petroglyphs. This is very accessible with not a lot of jargon, and it gives a great little history of the Fremont, what we know of that culture, and then a little about the canyon and surrounding lands. My favorite part of this book? The last half is a guide of the different rock art features throughout the canyon. There are maps, color photos, illustrations, and interpretations of the rock art you’ll see. Ready to drive down to the canyon yet?
TRACES OF FREMONT: SOCIETY AND ROCK ART IN ANCIENT UTAH
By Steven R. Simms
Yes, another Fremont book. But Fremont archaeology is Utah archaeology (and the archaeology I’m most familiar with, so there’s that too). This book is a great coffee table book—it’s big, full of gorgeous color photos, and gives just enough info to be informative without going in too deep. And you get to see the really interesting and rare finds, and not just pottery pieces and arrowheads (apologies to those people that spend their lives studying those things. Your work is important).
This is just a sampling of the great info you can get on Utah archaeology and history in our stacks. Ask a librarian about finding these books in Special Collections or on the regular shelves!