An ancient Native American village discovered on the alpine slopes of Table Mountain high in the backcountry of the Toquima Range. Upon its discovery, Alta Toquima became the highest historic site in Nevada and the highest known Indian village in North America.
Dr. David Thomas unearthed the ancient village in 1978, concluding that the rugged landscape of east-central Nevada was once home to some of America's earliest inhabitants. Before survey and excavations were conducted at Alta Toquima, Dr. Thomas and his team believed that early American hunters avoided high altitude environments, claiming them as too harsh and barren to sustain life; archaeologists had previously identified small, temporary base-camps as high as 11,000 feet, but all of them showed no indication of long-term settlement. In 1980, Thomas concluded that from around 2500 BC to 0 AD, the mountains were used intermittently by small groups of hunters who seasonally exploited the range's mountain sheep. After around 1 AD, he discovered that high-mountain villages were under construction. These were occupied for months at a time by families who were able to sustain themselves on the local resources: elk, sheep, marmot, fish, eagles, berries, and roots. These new large, long-term settlements at Alta Toquima represented a major shift in how ancient Americans used mountain resources, and illustrate how archaeological research continues to teach us about the past.