Daniel S. Meatte

(Taken from Prehistory of the Western Snake River Basin (1990) pp.21-38)


In review, it is apparent that until 1957, the initial activities and concerns of archaeologists working in the study area were focused on the exploration, discovery, and description of archaeological resources. Although more developed objectives such as chronology, classification, cultural affiliations, and evolutionary change existed, archaeologists hampered by limited data bases simply could not examine those issues.

The modern foundations of archaeological research in the study area began with the appointment of Earl H. Swanson, Jr. to the Idaho State College Museum in 1957. His personal commitment to understanding the prehistory of Idaho led to the establishment of systematic recording procedures, large areal surveys, the establishment of a tentative regional chronology, and the formulation of well-defined research problems.

With the creation of federal laws governing the protection of archaeological resources and a new hierarchy of state and federal personnel to administer these laws, archaeological advances the past 20 years have been tremendous. Significant headway has been made within the study area to define a regional cultural chronology, and undoubtedly will continue as new sites are excavated and radiometric data are added. Efforts to reconstruct subsistence and settlement patterns, though rare, are becoming increasingly numerous. Few archaeologists have attempted to investigate the underlying processes which explain the archaeological record. No doubt those who undertake more syntheses of archaeological data, improved standardization of techniques and terminology, and synchronic linkages of archaeological and faunal assemblages will lead the way toward explaining these processes.