Following up on an initial discovery of ice-age remains in Byron, New York, in the 1950’s, Dr Richard Laub took on the task of systematically excavating the ‘Hiscock Site’ for the Buffalo Museum of Science. Fieldwork commenced in 1983, but as more and more fossils were discovered at the site, the ‘Byron Dig’, as it became known, would continue for almost three decades. In that time, countless numbers of significant Late Pleistocene and Holocene discoveries were made, including those of mastodon, caribou and bird remains, as well as a rich record of Paleoindian tools.
The Hiscock site proved to be incredibly challenging, not just in terms of physical excavation in its water-logged sediments, but also in developing an understanding of how this complex deposit had formed and evolved over the last ≈13,000 years. In many cases, it took years to figure out some of the details and whilst we have a good understanding of the site 40 years on, several questions still remain unanswered.
In this interview, Dick joins us to look back at his time leading the Byron Dig. As we work our way through each distinct layer of the deposit, he reconstructs the local environment for us and paints a picture of the flora and fauna of the relatively recent past.
Further details about the Hiscock Site, the Byron Dig and the history of its study can be found in Dick’s recent book: Two Acres of Time.