Aboriginal Timber-Built Deer Corral-Traps in Mineral County, Nevada

Dani Nadel, Philip Wilke, Mark Willis, Amnon Nachmias, Matthew C. Hall, Eric Dillingham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Late prehistoric and early historic communal hunting sites along the southwestern mountainous margins of the Great Basin, United Sates, include timber-built corral-traps estimated to be only a few hundred years old. In most of these, no animal bones or direct evidence for the targeted species were found in the corrals. Our goals were to characterize and reconstruct past use of these sites, and we chose two distinct case studies, Anchorite Pass and Excelsior. We provide high-resolution documentation of the sites and their archaeological components, using nearly 10,000 aerial photographs as the basis for 3D modeling. We specifically address construction characteristics which include the incorporation of living trees and felling juniper timbers by fire. Drawing on limited ethnographic sources and current seasonal routes of local mule deer herds, we suggest the two sites were used for seasonal trapping of such herds. Forest fires and modern construction severely endanger such vulnerable sites.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)170-187
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Field Archaeology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2 Apr 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020, © Trustees of Boston University 2020.


  • Great Basin
  • Pinyon-Juniper woodland
  • ethnographic ambiguities
  • game traps
  • mule deer
  • photogrammetry
  • wood preservation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Archaeology
  • Archaeology


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