Gypsum Cave

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  • gypsumcave1-079  Gypsum Cave is located in a limestone spur of the Frenchman Mountains about 20 miles east of Las Vegas, Nevada.  It has an opening of 70' across and 15' high, with the overall length of 300' and the widest spot inside being 120'.   The cave was first visited by archaeologist Mark Harrington in 1925 and was excavated by Harrington, his team from the  Southwest Museum, and Zuni workers in 1930.  The most significant find during the excavation was the remains of a ground sloth that was overlying and in association with cooking fires.  Below the sloth remains they found atlatl points and parts of their wooden shafts.  Of particular interest were the painted foreshafts which to this day represent Nevada's oldest record of painted prehistoric Indian art.  Also found was Puebloan pottery along with vegetal remains of plants that no longer grow in this region.  There were surface artifacts that were relatively recent compared to the other artifacts which dated between 8,500 - 10,000 B.C.E.  Gypsum Cave was important and considered sacred to some Native Americans who traveled this region using the trail system.  Sadly, today the only thing left to see - other than just experiencing the cave itself - is a lot of graffiti.
  • gypsumcavemap  Contour map of Gypsum Cave was taken from "Southwest Museum Papers Number 8" April 1933.  I have been told that the entrances into rooms 3, 4, and 5 have been blocked.  At the time we visited the cave we were not prepared to go beyond "Room 2".
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  • gypsumcave1-074  We entered through "Room 2".
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