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Natural History Museum of Utah’s 2019 Lecture Series Ancient Secrets: Hidden Worlds Revealed

Speaker Duncan Metcalfe presents, Farming Among the Fremont: Anticipating Tomorrow

Monday, March 11, 2019

Discover how the prehistoric farming practices of Utah’s Fremont culture highlight potential farming challenges of the future. Join Natural History Museum of Utah Curator of Archaeology, Duncan Metcalfe, Wednesday, March 13, 2019, 7p.m. at the Salt Lake City Public Library auditorium (210 East 400 South).


Metcalfe, who announced he will retire later this year, is also Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Utah and Director of Range Creek, a remote archaeological field station in east-central Utah, once occupied by the Fremont culture, now owned by the School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration (SITLA) and managed by the Natural History Museum of Utah and the University of Utah.


When Metcalf recalls his first experience touring Range Creek, with then owner Waldo Wilcox, he notes, “I wasn’t going to get involved. Then, I spent 14 hours in the canyon and dropped everything.” Now, more than 15 years later, nearly 500 pristine Fremont sites have been identified and most are still relatively undisturbed. Pot shards, stone tools and arrowheads still remain in many sites. Pit house remnants, adobe granaries containing 1,000-year-old corn cobs, and graffiti-free rock art panels stand remarkably intact.


The canyon’s high-desert landscape is an isolated wilderness, surrounded by steep rock walls and only one rough road in. Clearly, its obscure location is one reason the Wilcox family was able to protect and quietly honor the prehistoric remains and history of the canyon for more than 50 years.   


Today, the goal of researchers conducting experiments at the Range Creek field station is to learn as much as possible about the Fremont way of life, their origin and occupation in the area and the complex conditions that may have contributed to their ultimate disappearance.  


Additional programs taking place at Range Creek include local plant studies and an eight-week summer field methods program sponsored by the Department of Anthropology and the Natural History Museum of Utah. Over the nearly two-month course, students learn to apply the basics of a variety of archaeological theories and methods in a truly unique hands-on experience.  


For additional information about Metcalfe, Range Creek or attending the final lectures in this year’s series, visit


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