Herodotus Returns


Ancient Native American ‘salt factory’ discovered in Sierra Nevada
January 2, 2010, 11:27 pm
Filed under: Native Americans | Tags: , ,

Geologists in the Sierra Nevada have discovered hundreds of hand-hewn pits believed to be salt-basins, instrumental in the trade economy of hunter-gatherer Miwok Native Americans

Somewhere in the Sierra Nevada, a granite terrace the size of a football field holds hundreds of mysterious stone basins representing what geologists believe is one of the earliest known “factories” created and used by ancient Miwok Indians to make tons of salt to trade with tribes up and down California.

James G. Moore, a geologist with the U.S. Geological Survey in Menlo Park, learned of the strangely pitted terrace from detailed maps made more than a century ago and hiked the region in May to study what he determined were clearly hand-hewn objects.

He examined 369 of the circular artifacts only a few yards from two streams of saltwater fed by a nearby spring and a lake that was equally salty

“Salt was an important commodity for Native Americans,” UC Berkeley’s Lightfoot said. “It is certainly possible that salt harvested from these basins could have been traded to other native groups in California and the Great Basin (east of the Sierra).

More on these ancient salt basins.

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