Roxborough's Archaeology History​

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​The archeological history of Roxborough State Park (RSP) provides a rich storyline of life spanning thousands of years. The study of archeology is not merely what artifacts have been unearthed; rather artifacts tell the story of how people lived based on the quantity, location and various items found together.  

The Colorado Archaeological Society, Denver Chapter, conducted the first archaeological study of RSP in 1977 and several other studies have followed which led to RSP being named a National Archaeological Register District in 1983.  The National Register defines a property where remnants of a past culture that survived based on its artifacts and how they were placed.  The National R​egister is the only official national listing of important archeological properties and is a valuable tool in the management and preservation of our country’s archeological history and resources.

Come out and enjoy learning about the park's human existence for thousands of years.​

Roxborough's Cultural Legacy

Four cultures tell us the story of how humans evolved from living in a cooler to a warmer climate, their ability to adapt from what they ate, how they hunted, created shelter and developed societies where they produced goods for trade.  ​

Cultures starting with the first known residences of North America are listed below:

  • Paleo-Indians  - BP 12,000 to 7,500
    • The Stone Ages – Known for large stone spear points, Paleo-Indians were nomadic hunters of Pleistocene mega-fauna such as the woolly mammoth and Bison Priscus.  The Paleo-Indian culture adapted their technologies, possibly inventing the atlatl to throw stone-tipped darts at the small, yet still huge, game. 
  • Archaic – BP 7,500 to A.D. 150​
    • Hunter & Gatherers – This culture learned to modify their hunting practices, eating preferences and lived a more mobile lifestyle because Roxborough State Park offered what they needed to survive with mild temperatures, open water, good animal winter habitat and natural rock overhangs. The atlatl was the preferred weapon of choice. A replicated atlatl is on display inside the Visitor Center.
  • Woodland – A.D. 150 to 1540​
    • ​​Inventors – This culture offered up technological innovations with the bow and arrow and ceramics which brought them efficiency in hunting more animals from far away and the ability to store and preserve food.  This culture also began the activity of commerce as they traded their works of everything from pottery to beads. 
  • Proto-history – A.D. 1540 to 1850​
    • ​Time of Change - This era and was labeled proto-historic since it was the first time of recorded history in writing because of the introduction of the Europeans.  During this period the indigenous cultures become exposed to European trade with the introduction of guns and horses thus providing a rapid cultural and territorial change to the way of life. 
​​Roxborough's Artifacts

Over 200 artifacts have been documented within RSP and it includes over 40 archaeological sites mostly of the Archaic and Woodland cultures.  Such places include camp sites, rock shelters and quarries with artifacts ranging from stone pieces, Clovis' and various pottery.  Several artifacts and are on display inside the park's visitor center. 

All cultural or paleontological artifacts found on state lands belong to the state and the Colorado Historical Society is the official trustee of these artifacts. But Colorado does not have a centralized repository, so they created a partnership with dispersed repositories to become Express Trustees. In 2019, Roxborough became the first State Park in Colorado to achieve repository status.  

 

Archaeology Artifacts – What to do if found and how to make donations

  • ​​Any artifacts found while hiking inside Roxborough State Park, please leave them in place and report your findings to the Visitor Center.
  • If you have artifacts that came from the park, please consider donating them and you will be given credit as the finder.  Please provide circumstances and location of collection if possible.
  • Collecting artifacts in the park is subject to legal consequences of up to a $500 fine and 30 days in county jail. 

Come out and enjoy learning about the park's human existence for thousands of years.​