Gypsum Cave - Las Vegas, Nevada - Ancient Aboriginal Dwelling Place




Located about 12 miles east of Las Vegas, Gypsum Cave is a six-room limestone cave in Sunrise Mountain, considered to be among the oldest aboriginal sites in North America. The cave measures 300 feet long by 120 feet wide. Its rooms are filled with dry, dusty deposits.

Gypsum Cave was originally excavated by archaeologist Mark R. Harrington in 1930-31. The remains of a giant ground sloth and extinct breeds of horse and camel were discovered, indicating a thriving habitat existed here some 7,500 to 9,500 years ago. A unique, 9,280-year-old basket fragment uncovered in Room Three rates among the oldest pieces of basketry in North America. Also found in Gypsum Cave were other manmade artifacts dating back to 3,000 BC, such as torches, painted dart shafts, stone points, and yucca fiber string.

In 1994, Nevada State Historical Marker #103 was erected about a half mile from the cave's entrance, but it was removed by the owners of the land, PABCO Mining Company, to discourage visitation. Trespassers still travel up the dirt road on the east side of Sunrise Mountain and sneak in to explore the easily accessed rooms of Gypsum Cave, ignoring the Private Property signs.


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