A mummy found in 1940, which has been dated to 7420 B.C., was first found by the husband-and-wife archaeological team of Sydney and Georgia Wheeler. The Wheelers, working for the Nevada State Parks Commission, were surveying possible archaeological sites near Carson City, Nevada, to prevent their loss due to guano mining. Upon entering Spirit Cave they discovered the remains of two people wrapped in tule matting. One set of remains, buried deeper than the other, had been partially mummified (the head and right shoulder). The Wheelers, with the assistance of local residents, recovered a total of sixty-seven artifacts from the cave.
These artifacts were examined at the Nevada State Museum where they were estimated to be between 1,500 and 2,000 years old. They were deposited at the Nevada State Museum’s storage facility in Carson City where they remained for the next fifty-four years.
In 1996 University of California, Riverside anthropologist R. Ervi Taylor examined seventeen of the Spirit Cave artifacts using mass spectrometry. The results indicated that the mummy was approximately 9,400 years old (uncalibrated Radio-Carbon Years Before-Present (RCYBP); ~11.5 Kya calibrated) — older than any previously known North American mummy.