Jones-Miller Collection

The Jones-Miller Site Collection: a 10,000-year-old Bison butchery site

In 1972, rancher Robert Jones, Jr. was extending one of his agricultural fields. In this process, Jones came across a dug-up section of earth that had bone in it. Finding bone during this work was not unusual; Jones had found bone in his fields before. What was unique in this instance was the thick concentration of the bone. He knew something was different with this discovery. The Jones family reached out to their friend, Rueben Miller, who came to visit the site. Miller worked for the Colorado State Highway Department, and seeing the bone, agreed that the concentration was unique. He reached out to archaeological colleagues to come investigate the site. Through this network, Dennis Stanford’s attention was brought to the site.

Dennis Stanford worked for the Smithsonian Institution, and with additional funding through National Geographic, he led excavations and research teams at the site in the summers of 1973, 1974, and 1975. These teams excavated the site in 2 x 2-meter grids, carefully uncovering the bison bone bed. They worked each year to determine the extent of the site, while also investigating the fields near and adjacent to the uncovered bone concentration to determine if there was evidence for camps, hearths, homes, or work areas next to the butchery site. When the excavation was complete, approximately 41,000 Bison bones, nearly 500 liters of soil samples, and over 200 stone tools had been cleared from the site. The Jones family was able to utilize the field again, and still farm there to present day.

The excavated bone and all other items were sent to the Smithsonian with Stanford on a long-term loan from Denver Museum of Nature and Science to be analyzed. In 2019, the collection came back to DMNS. Our collections assistants, Natalie Patton and Amy Gillaspie, along with the anthropology collections team will be working through 2022 and 2023 to organize and catalog the collection in an effort to make it accessible for future research. Please reach out to us with any questions about the Jones-Miller site and collection, and stay tuned to site and our DMNS Social Media accounts for updates as we work!


Stephen E. Nash, PhD

Senior Curator of Archaeology and Director of Anthropology

Dominique Alhambra, MA

Anthropology Collections Manager and NAGPRA Coordinator

Amy M. Gillaspie, M.A., RPA

Collections Assistant

Courtney J. Scheskie, MA

Business Support Specialist III

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