Provost youth discover 10,000-year-old bison skull in backyard

Troy Kim and Landon Sewell of Provost, Alta. visit the Bodo Archaeological Site and Centre on Fri. Aug. 27 to look at their recent donation. The bison skull, determined to be between 5,000 and 10,000-years-old, was found in Kim’s backyard last fall. ECA Review/Brett Sewell
Written by Terri Huxley

Troy Kim and Landon Sewell of Provost, Alta. visit the Bodo Archaeological Site and Centre on Fri. Aug. 27 to look at their recent donation. The bison skull, determined to be between 5,000 and 10,000-years-old, was found in Kim’s backyard last fall. ECA Review/Brett Sewell

What was once perceived as nothing more than some tree roots has turned into a possibly 10,000-year-old find as two Provost boys found an ancient bison skull in their backyard.

In the fall of 2020, Troy Kim and Landon Sewell of Provost, Alta. unearthed what appeared to be a bison skull from beneath the roots of a tree in Troy’s parents’ backyard on 49th Street.

“For the first while we just thought it was part of the tree,” said Kim. 

Initially not sure what they had discovered, the boys (age 8 and 9 at the time of the discovery) used rather unorthodox excavating methods to reveal their archaeological find – shovels and a garden hose.

Thankfully, they were careful enough the bison skull, although not complete, sustained no real damage.

The pair described the skull as being quite heavy compared to mineralized bones often found today.

“It was exciting, surprising,” said Sewell. “Me and Troy thought it was about 300 years old but when we got the news back, it was 10,000.”

Excited by their find, the boys were anxious to determine the age of the skull if possible.

On Aug. 15, 2021, the boys and Troy’s mother, Leah Kim, visited the Bodo Archaeological Site and Centre.

Mutually, the three of them agreed to donate their find to the Bodo Archaeological Society.

The archaeologists on-site were able to determine the bison skull was that of a mature adult by the degree of fusion present in the skull bones.

Unable to determine the exact species or actual age of the skull, photographs were sent to the Royal Alberta Museum (RAM) in Edmonton.

Chris Jass, Curator, Quaternary Palaeontology at the RAM believes this ancient skull pre-dates those previously found at the Bodo Archaeological Site, and could in fact, be as old as 5,000 to 10,000 years.

Bodo archaeologists speculate the find may be a transitional species between ancient and modern.

Many questions remain unanswered, some of which will be determined in-person by professional archaeologists at the RAM when they have an opportunity to examine the skull later this fall.

Other questions arise, including how the skull remained intact within the Town of Provost, considering years of settlement, basement excavation(s), utility right-a-ways, and the planting of trees.

Did the roots of a tree, planted many years ago, finally push the skull to the surface? Did someone bring the skull to Provost?

If you ever lived at 5222 – 49th Street, or know of anyone who did, or if you can recollect someone in this vicinity having a bison skull in their possession, this information may prove valuable.

Please contact the Bodo Archaeological Society at 780-753-7506.

 

Terri Huxley, Leila Grobel

ECA Review

About the author

Terri Huxley

Terri grew up on a grain farm near Drumheller, Alberta with an eye for the beautiful and uncharted. Living in such a unique and diverse area has helped her become the photographer and reporter she is today.

Coming from the East Central region getting this newspaper on her dinner table growing up, it helped her understand the community she now serves.

In May 2019, Terri was awarded Alberta Weekly Newspaper Association (AWNA) Canada's Energy Citizens Photographic Awards Sports Action – First Place as well as first for the same sports action image nationally with the Canadian Community Newspaper Association (CCNA). Fast forward to 2020, she has won second in the same category for the AWNA.