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Danger Cave, and the nearby Jukebox Cave, sits roughly 5 miles northeast of Wendover. The twin caves were gated shut in the late 1990s, leaving only sporadic access to what Utah State Parks resources manager Justina Parsons-Bernstein describes as "one of the most important archaeological sites in all of North America."
That's because buried within Danger Cave lies evidence of some of Utah's oldest human inhabitants, with artifacts recovered dating back more than 11,000 years to when the waters of Lake Bonneville first receded to expose the banquet hall-sized space.
Danger Cave is a North American Archaeological site located in the Bonneville Basin of western Utah around the Great Salt Lakes region, that features artifacts of the Desert Culture from c. 9000 BC until c. 500 AD. Through carbon-14 dating, it has been determined that there is very little evidence of human life in the Danger Cave area c. 11,000 BP [9000 BC], but there is much evidence of human life by 9,000 BP [8000 BC].
The extremely dry cave had created an ideal storage condition that preserved a variety of artifacts from beetle wings to textiles and human paleofeces. They also found leather scraps, pieces of string, nets of twine, coarse fabric, basket fragments, and bone and wood tools such as knives, weapons, and millstones. In total, excavations have produced over 2,500 chipped-stone artifacts and over 1,000 grinding stones. The excavation also yielded identifiable fragments of 68 plant species that still grow today within ten miles of the cave as well as the bones of many species of animals.
The data collected from the cave suggested that the Desert Culture had a sparse population, with small social units numbering no more than 25 to 30 people. The focus on survival prevented the inhabitants from building permanent structures, developing complicated rituals, or amassing extensive personal property. The Desert Culture persisted for thousands of years despite the hardships they faced, and eventually became the basis for other early Utah cultures such as the Fremont.