CU Museum of Natural History

Colorado Mahaffy Cache

The Mahaffy Cache includes a variety of Ice Age tools

See Rare Ice Age Tools displayed on the university of colorado campus in Boulder.

In 2008, landscapers digging at a Boulder home near Chautauqua Park discovered 83 pieces of stone packed tightly in a shoebox-size hole. The cache contained dozens of sculpted cutting tools, including stone knives, blades, and flint scraps.
Research suggests the tools were likely left behind some 13,000 years ago by nomadic hunter-gatherers wandering through what today is the city of Boulder.
The rare cache of butchering tools, now known as the Mahaffy Cache, are exhibited in “Unearthed: Ancient Life in the Boulder Valley” at the University of Colorado Museum of Natural History in Boulder.

The Mahaffy Cache is one of just a few North American artifact collections representing the nomadic Paleoindians known as the Clovis. They lived in North America toward the end of the last ice age, along with many now-extinct animals, including the North American camel, woolly mammoth, dire wolf, and giant ground sloth.

The implements were used for butchering and include elaborate two-sided knives the size of salad plates, a tool like a double-bitted axe, and sharp blades.

A blood protein analysis of the tools indicate some were used to cut up Ice Age horses and camels as well as members of the bear and sheep family.

Douglas Bamforth, anthropology professor for the University of Colorado at Boulder, evaluated the origin of the stone material and found that they likely originated in the Uinta Mountains in northeast Utah. The cache was likely carried up the Yampa River in northwest Colorado and over a pass through the Gore Range into Middle Park, a high basin in the Rockies about 50 miles west of Boulder. From there it may have been toted to the Colorado River headwaters and over a pass in or near present-day Rocky Mountain National Park, then to the Front Range.

The University of Colorado Museum of Natural History is located on the Boulder Campus, in the Henderson Building, 15th St. and Broadway. The museum is open daily (except for university holidays). Admission is free.

For more information
University of Colorado Museum of Natural History
Henderson Building, 15th and Broadway, Boulder, CO 80309