Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump

Situated in south-west Alberta, Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump is one of the most important hunting sites identified to date. At the edge of a landscape of hills and of highlands cut by natural passes, a high sandstone cliff falls off to the east. This coastal relief lends itself ideally to primitive hunting methods.

For thousands of years the native people of the plains hunted the North American bison. The plains Indian lifestyle became dependent on hunting buffalo, and they adapted numerous hunting techniques to obtain their livelihood. The most sophisticated technique developed by the native people to kill buffalo was the buffalo jump. Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump is one of the oldest and best preserved sites of this kind with its elaborate drive lane complex and deep archaeological deposits still intact.

The site was used for the slaughter of bison from 3600 BC to 2600 BC, then intermittently towards 900 BC, and finally, continuously from AD 200 to 1850. Explored for the first time in 1938, it has since 1960 been the object of systematic excavations which have considerably enriched the knowledge of prehistoric arms and tools, and above all, transformed current thinking on the use of game as food and in clothing and lodging.

Since 1981 it is a Unesco site.

Thanks to Jason for the postcard.

canada - head buffalo



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