Fremont Culture – Southwest US Pre-Colombian Tradition 700 AD – 1300 AD

The Fremont Culture developed around 700 AD and remained in existence till 1300 AD. This culture developed around present day Fremont River in Utah and some of its adjacent regions like Nevada, Idaho and Colorado. It was contemporary to Anasazi culture and was even thought to be a part of it. Modern archaeologists agree that this culture was distinct in nature and lifestyle from the Anasazi culture. Many of the archaeological sites regarding this culture are found in sagebrush and pinyon region of the eastern Great Basin and the western Colorado Plateau of the southwestern United States, including portions of Utah, Nevada, and Colorado. The carbon dating of these artifacts suggest that the Fremont culture was almost 1400 years old.

Fremont Culture Map

Agriculture and Hunting

The Fremont people were mostly employed in agricultural activities they used to grow crops like maize, beans and squash. These three crops are the major crops of southwest at that time and they were collectively called Three sisters. Agricultural fields near Fremont villages were irrigated by ditches.

It is assumed by the archeologist that in the initial days of Fremont people, that is about 700 AD to 900 AD the Fremont people were mostly dependent on hunting and gathering. They used to hunt various desert animals found in the southwest including mountain sheep, deer, antelope, jackrabbit and hare. The evidence also suggests that they used to eat wild desert plants like pine nuts.


The Fremont people used to build pithouses in clusters almost 10 to 100 houses were created in a group these houses were not permanent and were discarded within 9 to 10 years. Many such villages established by Fremont people are excavated from the southwest. The pithouses were round in shape which was to some extent deep rooted inside the ground. The pithouses were built with timber and mud. Certain pithouses were not used as residential site but storage sites. Some of the settlements of Fremont people are found in cowboy and danger caves of Utah, Mantle’s Cave in Colorado and Paharangat valley in Nevada.


The Fremont people made large rectangular granaries to store maize and other grains cultivated by them. The length of granaries was almost 16 feet and they stored almost tones of grain. Few Granaries were built in middle of villages which were in reach of the common masses. For the case of emergency they also established few granaries in the remote regions like canyons walls, caves etc. These locations were found after extensive rock climbing by the archeologists.


The Fremont people had extraordinary knowledge in the field of basket making. The potteries made by these people had extensive geometrical patterns. These people also started making various leather goods and polishing stone balls. They made peculiar triangular projectile points which were used in arrow. It is having extreme accuracy and was used to hunt wild animals in the southwest. They also made slabs and grinding stones to grind maize.

Rock Art

These people are mostly known for their rock painting done in the remotest caves found in the southwest. They used to paint petro glyphs on the canyon walls. Most of these paintings portrayed huge muscular males wearing necklaces made up of shells. Some other figures were of hunting scene and animal figures.

Fermount Carvings on the Rock

Decline of Fremont Culture

It was believed that after the medieval little ice age between 1300 AD to 1500 AD there was drastic change in environment patterns of the southwest. The rainfall in summers decreased which was the growing season and most the moisture condensed during the winters by the storms. The weather turned out to be more dry and cold. This impacted the agriculture sector and thus the Fremont people shifted in different direction. The Fremont people were replaced by Numic people who were well adapted to new arid condition.

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