Gypsum Cave Overview
The cave contains both Native American artifacts including stone points and dart shafts, and giant ground sloth remains.
It was thought Native Americans and Ice Age Mammals inhabited the cave at the same time but evidence placed the sloth in the cave at about 8,500 B.C. and the human artifacts at about 3,000 B.C.
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Nevada Historical Marker Number
Gypsum Cave is Nevada Historical Marker #103.
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Nevada Historical Marker Transcription
Gypsum Cave was once thought to be one of the oldest aboriginal sites in North America. The cave is 300 feet long and 120 feet wide and is filled with dry, dusty deposits in all six rooms.
When excavated in 1930-31, the cave yielded the skull, backbone, nine to twelve-inch claws, reddish-brown hair and fibrous dung of the giant ground sloth, a vegetarian species common in the more moist environment known here about 7,500 to 9,500 years ago. Bones from extinct forms of the horse and camel were also found.
Pieces of painted dart shafts, torches, stone points, yucca fiber string and other artifacts were found mixed in with the sloth dung. When the dung was dated at 8,500 B.C. by the radiocarbon method, it was believed the man-made tools were the same age. Two radiocarbon dates on the artifacts themselves, however, indicate that the ground sloth and man were not contemporaneous inhabitants of the cave. Man probably made use of the cave beginning about 3,000 B.C., long after the ground sloths had abandoned it.
Other Notes About Gypsum Cave
In 1994, a sign, the Nevada State Historical Marker #103, was put up to indicate to tourists the way to the site. It was removed by the private owner of the Gypsum Cave, PABCO Mining Company, to avoid unwanted tourism on its grounds.
The cave was listed on the NRHP on July 8, 2010.