b'C H A P T E R 1A V I A T O RS C A V Eseventy degrees made the expedition a to the hole and beamed the light into The floor of the cave contained moremore pleasant outing than it would the cavern below. obsidian chips. Amidst the thick scatter,have been before. As he hovered over they found what many people callthe hole, he noticed that the vegetation I saw buffalo skulls with horns and a arrowheads and what archaeologistsgrowing near it was unusual, a diff e r- lot of other bones. You can tell buffalo call projectile points. The skulls andent color than the sage and rabbit brush by the way the horns come out lower onrocks and other objects on the floorso common on the desert, a brighter the skull than other animals. We were covered lightly with a thin film ofshade of green. climbed into the hole, stepping on rocksdust. Upon exploring briefly, they real-that led you down into it. I could smell ized that the lava tube had a large high-He set the helicopter down on a flat bobcat. You had to stoop a little to get ceilinged central area and threespot about thirty feet from the hole. into the cave, but then the cavity reallyarm-like extensions. Crevices in theLava tubes are common on this part of opened up and we could stand up easirock-walls contained mysterious objectsthe Snake River Plain. These were ly. We saw a lot more bones and what made of twine, bone, and pieces offormed as recently as 200,000 years looked like a fireplace the way wood. Whoever had put them there hadago when basalt magma oozed quietly the rocks were placed. done so many hundreds of years before,out of the earth from thirty miles below, There were all kinds of and the pilots may have been the firstfilling up low stream valleys and things in there. to see them since then. 65canyons. The outer portion of the flowcooled and hardened more quickly thanthe inside, providing tunnels for the hotmolasses-like fluid within to move longdistances before it cooled. Eventually, Left. Projectile points found on the INEL site. Below.the magma stopped erupting and the Archaeologists and members of the Shoshone-tunnels drained. Often, all or part of the Bannock Tribe get acquainted with the interior ofroof collapsed. 4 INEEL CulturalAviators Cave.ResourcesAs they approached, Atwood and hisco-pilot saw a cairn near the hole. Therocks were stacked nearly three feethigh. Their first thought was that anold sheepherder had erected the mark-er. The Snake River Plain had been awell-used crossing beginning in thelate decades of the 19th century andthe early 20th. Stockmen had drivencattle and sheep to the shipping centersof Montana from Oregon, Washington,and western Idaho; and their cairns hadbeen found elsewhere on the Site.But then the two men noticed piles ofobsidian chips, thousands of them,strewn about. Suddenly they knewthey would need flashlights. Fetchingthem from the helicopter, they returnedINEEL89-329-1-95'