Developer finds treasure in ruins

Archie Hanson holds a pot from about A.D. 1200 that was found outside the kiva in the – LOCAL NEWS

Project near Cortez has 19 homes, 210 ancient Indian sites

”Indian Camp Ranch” billed as ”the first archaeological subdivision.”

On the 1,200 high-desert acres just a few miles northwest of Cortez sit 19 high-end homes. The area has one of the highest recorded densities of ancient Indian sites in the country – 210.

The concentration of sites is rivaled only by the subdivision’s neighbor, the 164,000-acre archaeological preserve called Canyons of the Ancients National Monument. …

This settlement, now called the Hanson Pueblo, has a tower, three kivas and some 28 rooms altogether. It likely was home to three families around A.D. 1135, Hanson says. …

If most archaeologists find Hanson less appealing, they can do nothing about it. In this state it is legal for private property owners to do whatever they like with the cultural artifacts found on their land. …

“We’re living in a fool’s paradise. This is freedom’s heaven,” where county officials base decisions on common sense, not politics, he says.

Hanson, who originally asked $232,000 for each of Indian Camp’s 32 lots, each at least 35 acres, never charged a price differential for the cultural resources. Lots now go for about $250,000 each. …

Just down the hill from the Hansons’ house is the Seed Jar Site, thrilling in its gruesome way.

“A raiding party came in and killed everybody. They stayed there long enough to eat them. Twelve dead people,” Hanson says. “There were 9,156 bones they got out of it, not counting the little ones.”

Archaeologist Korri Dee Turner, daughter of Christy Turner, a cannibalism researcher reviled for focusing so much attention on a grisly and hotly disputed topic, reported evidence of witchcraft rituals and trophy-taking.

Cannibalism of the Ancestral Puebloans is an unpopular topic among many contemporary archaeologists and modern Indians. Just about everything Hanson does causes some unease in the conservative community of local archaeologists because of their discipline’s grueling standards and his free-wheeling ways.