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Cowboy Cave Basket

Anthropologist Phil Geib discovered this coiled basket in Cowboy Cave, Utah while camping in the area. While looking around Cowboy Cave, Geib noticed a hole excavated by looters, and saw part of a basket along the edge. Geib notified the local Bureau of Land Management archaeologist, who went on to recover the “exceptionally well-preserved” basket and transfer it to the Natural History Museum of Utah. Initially, Geib had thought the basket to be relatively young, due to its resting location near the surface of the cave floor. As it turns out, this basket - which wouldn’t look out of place at a weekend farmer’s market - is actually the oldest coiled basket on record! Radiocarbon dating places the basket as originating from somewhere between 7060 and 6670 BCE, making it at least 8,688 years old. The basket and others like it are currently on display in the First Peoples exhibit at the NHMU.



Photo by Craig Harmon


Information on basket and its discovery obtained from "The role of basketry in early Holocene small seed exploitation: implications of a CA. 9,000 year-old basket from Cowboy Cave, Utah." by Phil R. Geib and Jolie A. Edward. Article originally published in Volume 73 (Issue 1) of American Antiquity, 2008.