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MS 029 - Mummy Cave Collection

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MS 029


Research, publications, photos, reports and notes of both scientific and personal nature concerning the Mummy Cave archaeological site near Cody, Wyoming, located at 44°27′38.448″N, 109°44′9.6″W on the North Fork Highway between Wapiti and the east entrance of Yellowstone National Park. The content spans from the early 1960s to the mid 2000s, but is mainly from the 1960s with some materials dating to the 1980s. Most of the materials in this collection were created by Harold McCracken, Wilfred Husted, Leslie Davis, Waldo Wedel, Susan Hughes, George HorseCapture and Robert Edward.


  • Created: 1962-2010
  • Other: Date acquired: 01/01/1981


Conditions Governing Access

McCracken Library staff may determine use restrictions dependent on the physical condition of manuscript materials. Restrictions may exist on reproduction, quotation or publication. Contact McCracken Research Library for more information.

Biographical or Historical Information

Mummy Cave is a rock shelter on the left bank of the North Fork of the Shoshone River in Park County, Wyoming. It is adjacent to U.S. Highways 14, 16 and 20, and lies 18 miles east of the eastern entrance to Yellowstone National Park on the Cody Road. The site was first given serious attention in 1962 by Wyoming Archaeologist Robert "Bob" Edgar, who also founded the Old Trail Town in Cody, and was subsequently excavated beginning in 1965 by an anthropological team led by Dr. Wilfred Husted of the National Park Service and with financial support from the Buffalo Bill Historical Center (now the Buffalo Bill Center of the West), The National Geographic Society and The Smithsonian Institute. Husted led the expedition to map and collect the contents of the cave. The team produced several scientific papers and presentations concerning the cave, much to the chagrin of Harold McCracken, then-head of the Whitney Museum of Art at the BBHC. As for the cave itself, radiocarbon dates from the deposits in the cave range from 7280 years B.C. to A.D. 1580. Internally the site comprised 38 cultural strata representing cultures ranging from late Paleoindian to the Late Prehistoric period. The primary and most significant cultural component identified in the occupation strata was the McKean Complex which places the site in the Plains Archaic tradition. Dry circumstances in the site resulted in the preservation of many perishable materials which are not normally preserved in prehistoric context. Among these materials are faunal remains and tubular bone pipes from bighorn sheep and mule deer, as well as artifacts of wood, projectile points, chipped stone knives and scrapers. The features discovered in the cave were mostly hearths, but there was a very well preserved burial, originally nicknamed ''Mummy Joe" (but for cultural sensitivity purposes, he is no longer known as Joe and modern tribal members prefer to call him "The Ancestor"), who was one of the Clovis occupants of the cave during the earlier of the two Late Prehistoric occupations dated 1230 years ago. He is likely a member of the Tukudeka, or Mountain Sheepeater tribe-- precursors of the modern Shoshone Bannock, who migrated to the area from the American Southwest. He suffered from mites, fleas, numerous parasites and unhealed broken bones that likely caused his death. From the clothing and other items found with this individual, archaeologists concluded that he likely held high a status among his contemporaries. The name of the site derives from this discovery. The wide range of artifacts discovered at the site has caused Mummy Cave to be seen as highly significant for the study of Rocky Mountain archeology. The cave's significance was recognized by the National Park Service and was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1981. From 1984-1988 Susan Hughes, then a graduate student at the University of Wyoming, and George HorseCapture, former curator of the Plains Indian Museum, repatriated many of the artifacts taken during the Husted Expedition to the cave. To this day, the remains of The Ancestor are housed with the US Forest Service in Cody, awaiting repatriation under NAGPRA guidelines.

Note written by


6.00 boxes

Language of Materials


Arrangement Note

Contents of collection have been reorganized and condensed from document boxes into cubic feet-sized boxes. The contents of Box 1 comprise the old boxes 1-4 and are now labeled as series 1-4. Similarly, Box 2 comprises the old boxes 5-7 & 14 and are now labeled as series 5-9. Old photo boxes 9, 12 & 13 are now housed in Box 3. Photo boxes 10 & 14 are now in Box 4. All excavation profiles from series 5 & 7 are unnumbered and mostly unscanned. Series 8, the Les Davis papers, is unscanned.

Source of Acquisition

Harold McCracken & Jack Richard

Method of Acquisition


Accruals and Additions

2014.05.29 Les Davis Materials, 11 folders

Related Publications

[url=]Husted, Wilfred M., and Robert Edgar. The Archaeology of Mummy Cave, Wyoming: An Introduction to Shoshonean Prehistory. Lincoln, Nebraska, United States Department of the Interior, 2002.[/url] E99 .S39 H87 2002 c.2 McCracken, Harold, et al. The Mummy Cave Project in Northwestern Wyoming. Cody, Wyoming, The Buffalo Bill Historical Center, 1978. E78 .W95 M85 1978 [url=]Hughes, Susan. "Mummy Cave Revisited." Annals of Wyoming, 1988, pp. 44-53,[/url] F756 .A67 v.60 1988

Separated Materials

Vertical File - Mummy Cave

Archon Finding Aid Title
Elizabeth Hambleton, 2012; KK, 2019; Karen Preis
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the McCracken Research Library Repository

720 Sheridan Ave.
Cody WY 82414-3428 US