Garth and Jerri Frehner Museum of Natural History

Archaeology at the Frehner Museum

Utah is overflowing with Native American history. Here are a few items from our collection, all of which were discovered in archeological sites in Utah.

Information regarding the Native American people of Utah was gathered from Utah History to Go, sponsored by Utah.gov.

Fremont Bowl

The Fremont Culture emerged in 400 AD from the Desert Archaic Culture that inhabited the Great Basin region, located within the present boundaries of Utah, from 10,000 BC to 400 AD. The Fremont peoples lived in northern and eastern Utah and maintained the Desert tradition of hunting and gathering, but added maize-bean-squash planting by 800-900 AD. The arrival of the Numic (Shoshone, Paiute, and Ute) people saw the displacement and absorption of the Fremont people sometime after 1000 AD.

Fremont people made moccasins, baskets, figurines, and pottery. Since many of these items were made with perishable material, there is very little evidence left of this people, making archeological finds quite rare. The gray, coil pottery is unique to the Fremont tribe and is what archeologists use to identify Fremont sites. This Snake Valley Black-on-Grey scale bowl was recovered from Iron County, Utah, and dates between 800-1150 AD. The materials and colors used to construct this bowl were unique to the Fremont people. Unfortunately, since the Fremont culture disappeared, this technique was lost.

Virgin Anasazi Bowl

The Virgin Anasazi lived in areas around present-day Nevada, Arizona, and Utah. There is evidence that the Anasazi people arrived in southeastern Utah around 400 AD. This sedentary group built pueblos in the cliff face, made clay figurines, coiled and twined basketry, and pottery. They reintegrated with the Pueblo peoples of Arizona and New Mexico around 1200-1400 AD when crop failures and the Numic (Shoshone, Paiute, and Ute) people migrated south, pushing the Anasazi from the territory.

This Black-on-Gray bowl was recovered from a site in St. George, Utah, and dates from 1050-1200 AD. Based on where it was recovered, it is likely that the owners lived on a site near the edge of a stream. Most Anasazi pottery has geometric designs, like this bowl, consisting of many lines, circles, and triangles.

Paiute Vessel

The Southern Paiutes (Nuwuvi), also known as Shoshonean Paiutes, occupied the Great Basin Desert regions in the West – southern Nevada, southern California, northern Arizona, and extensive parts of southern Utah. This nomadic people followed their food each season, living in the valleys during fertile planting months and moving to caves for shelter from winter storms.

This Paiute vessel was found in Delta, Utah, and is dated from 1300-1850 AD. It is an example of a “pot drop,” a term coined by archaeologists for artifacts that seemed to have been dropped and left behind. The Paiute people were known to use sticks as a method of impressing patterns and textures onto their clay pots.

Bone Awls and Flesher

There is evidence of bone awls and fleshers being used throughout all prehistoric periods and by many different cultures across the world.

An awl looks like a large needle made of bone, usually taken from a Mule Deer or a Bighorn Sheep (both of which may also be seen in our museum). Bone awls were often used by the Ancestral Puebloans to make baskets or holes in leather and other softer minerals.

A flesher was used to remove the hair from hides of hunted animals. The ones in our museum were found in Kane County, Utah and are dated to 900-1050 AD.

This page was updated April 2016.