The drive through New Mexico had been long and tedious, and though I was tired, I was also excited to reach my goal. Just a few more miles, I thought to myself, and I’ll be there. This was to be the first of several places I had wanted to visit that are now known to be intimately tied to the history of turquoise in the New World.
I was expecting the place I had been seeking to just jump out at me. But no, it turned out that it wasn’t that noticeable. Had I not been looking for it, I would have just driven on by, like the thousands of cars and trucks a day that zoom north and south between Albuquerque and Santa Fe, oblivious to the little group of small hills just east of the Interstate — another of those redundantly named places in the Southwest — the Cerrillos Hills. (Cerrillos means “little hills”, in Spanish.)
Probably not one person in a thousand moving along that asphalt ribbon could have told you that in those barren looking hills is the oldest continuously mined site in North America. Like so many other places in our modern world where remnants of past greatness lie within reach of our everyday lives and yet go easily unnoticed and unconsidered, the Cerrillos Hills and their rich mines once shaped empires.
The Indians of the Southwest, the Aztecs of Mexico, and later the Spaniards, would all come to know of this place and the treasure it once offered – the mineral we call turquoise.
Cibola County Beacon – News
Navajos to mark Chaco Canyon Centennial, By Diane Fowler, Beacon staff writer
CHACO CANYON – The Navajos of northwest New Mexico will observe the centennial anniversary of Chaco Canyon National Heritage Park Saturday by reminding the Dine of their historical place in that mystic canyon.
The gathering is not connected to the park or the National Park Service in any way, according to a spokeswoman for the event. She asked to remain anonymous, but was willing to share some of the details of the observance.
“We will focus on the history of the Navajo people in Chaco Canyon. It’s not a part of our history that is emphasized, but our people were forced to leave Chaco Canyon 100 years ago when it was made a national park,” she said.
“We lost our land and it was a tragic time for us,” she added.
The spokeswoman observed that currently most people think of Chaco Canyon as a national park and not as a place where people live, “The Navajo people still exist in the Chaco Canyon area,” she remarked.
The observance will include an address by San Juan County Commissioner Irving Chavez in support of the local community. Navajo Nation Vice-President Ben Shelly and other tribal leaders will also speak.
Tribal elders, who are familiar with the history of the canyon, will make a special appearance, along with Miss Indian Farmington. Traditional singing will provide entertainment and a potluck dinner will be served.
The event will be held on tribal land rather than the actual park site. Everyone is welcome to attend.
From highway 550, take county road 7800 to state route 57, then take a left on county road 7980 and look for a large tent.
The observance will run from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 25, 2007.
[hat tip to walkingraven]
Utah Division of Wildlife Resources – Range Creek
Information: Conditions at Range Creek as of July 8, 2007
Range Creek Wildlife Management Area hiking permits are available online.
HIDDEN IN THE BOOK CLIFFS of Emery County between the Tavaputs Plateau and the Green River, Range Creek valley was once the site of numerous Fremont Indian villages. Until recently, this remote canyon was private property and was off-limits to the general public. Because of its isolation, the thousand-year-old Fremont Indian artifacts are numerous and well-preserved. Recently, the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources obtained ownership to this remarkable area and implemented a policy of limited public access.
Salt Lake Tribune – Hidden treasures, By Brett Prettyman
Conservation officers protect and explore a wealth of ancient Fremont Indian rock art and artifacts at Range Creek Canyon
Ancient home has answers underground, by Pam Boyd, Vail CO, Colorado
EAGLE COUNTY — One of the oldest archaeological sites ever unearthed in Colorado was discovered on a sagebrush plateau in northern Eagle County 20 years ago this summer. A crew from Eagle-based Metcalf Archaeological Consultants discovered the Yarmony Pit House — a 6,000 year old, well preserved artifact treasure trove in the ranch country north of State Bridge.
It was the find of a lifetime. Evidence collected at the site shows that Yarmony was inhabited thousands of years before the Anasazi — Colorado’s famed “ancient ones” — built their dwellings at Mesa Verde. People were residing at Yarmony thousands of years before the pyramids were built in Egypt or the boulders were placed at Stonehenge.
“Yarmony has kind of become the gold standard by which you measure pit house discoveries,” says Michael Selle, White River Field Office archaeologist for the U. S. Bureau of Land Management. …
Early on, the crew knew Yarmony was special. Their excavation uncovered evidence of a prehistoric pit house — a dwelling space dug into the ground, with dirt walls, and a dirt- and brush-covered log roof supported by poles set into the ground. A hole in the center of the roof provided access into the dwelling, as well as ventilation for the fire inside.
Read it all: http://www.vaildaily.com/article/20070618/NEWS/70618018
Ute Mountain Tribal Park is near Mesa Verde, Colorado. mjh
SIXTH ANNUAL UTE MOUNTAIN TRIBAL PARK OPEN HOUSE
MAY 27th, 2006
The following events are scheduled:
*Porcupine House and Pictographs Tour – 8:30am – 3:00pm Cost is $22.00 per person
*North Lion Canyon Tour – 8:30am – 3:30pm Cost is $22.00 per person
*Anasazi Sun Calendars in Mancos Canyon and Anasazi Petroglyph tour
Virginia Wolf Archaeologist/Anthropologist and Ed Wheeler Archaeologist/Anthropologist
will conduct these tours from 9:00am to 12:00 (noon)
and from 1:00pm to 4:30pm the cost of this tour is $22.00 per person
One of the nation’s finest anthropology museums, the Maxwell Museum of Anthropology offers exhibits and programs relating to cultures around the world, with a special emphasis on the cultural heritage of the Southwest.
The Maxwell Museum of Anthropology at the University of New Mexico celebrates 75 years in 2007. … The Maxwell Museum was established in 1932 by Edgar Lee Hewett as a teaching museum. It is recognized as an important regional museum and a nationally known research center.
Museum of Indian Arts & Culture
Opening on November 5, 2006, Secrets of Casas Grandes explores questions that have baffled archaeologists for decades—examining what the ceramics of Casas Grandes can tell us about the people who made and used them. The exhibit runs through October 7, 2007.
Secrets of Casas Grandes is unique in its focus on both archaeology and ceramics. Concentrated around the prehistoric site of Paquimé, Casas Grandes was the most complex society of its time, blending elements of ancestral Puebloan and Mesoamerican culture. During the Medio period of A.D. 1200–1450, Casas Grandes was a major regional center of interaction and trade, with evidence of ball courts and exotic goods such as copper, shell, turquoise, and macaws.
The Museum of Indian Arts & Culture is located on beautiful Museum HillTM at 710 Camino Lejo off Old Santa Fe Trail in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The museum is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm.
Two things trouble me about the following analysis. First, the confidence based on a simulation that the creator of the petroglyph was looking at just what they think s/he was looking at. It seems to me that an artist 3 inches taller or shorter than expected or someone working a few days earlier or later than expected might see something very different.
More importantly, a huge part of this interpretation is that the supernova glyph is with a scorpion glyph. First, how can they be so sure it is a scorpion. More cautious people have suggested we can *never* know what a glyph represents. Worse — is there any reason to believe the Hohokam thought that constellation looked like a scorpion, our Western interpretation? Not only did native peoples have no reason to call Orion Orion, they didn’t even see a hunter; some folk see a door or gate, some see a tool for starting a fire. That this is a scorpion and connected to that constellation is a huge presumption, in my mind. mjh
Rock Carving Linked To 1000-Year-Old Supernova Sighting by Staff Writers
Astronomers announced Monday they have discovered a possible link between a symbol on an ancient rock carving and a supernova that occurred 1,000 years ago.
Reporting at the 208th meeting of the American Astronomical Society, John Barentine, with Apache Point Observatory in New Mexico and Gilbert A. Esquerdo, with the Planetary Science Institute in Tucson, Ariz., said they think a petroglyph, found in the White Tanks Regional Park in Arizona depicts the well-known supernova of A.D. 1006.
The petroglyph is located in an area once occupied by prehistoric Native Americans called the Hohokam, which archaeologists think lived in the area – outside modern-day Phoenix – from about A.D. 500 to 1100. …
“The supernova of 1006 was perhaps the brightest such event visible from Earth for thousands of years, reaching the brightness of a quarter moon at peak,” Barentine said, “yet to date no representations of the event have been identified in Native American art.” …
“Quantitative methods such as carbon-14 dating are alternative means to assign ages to works of prehistoric art,” said Barentine, who studies Southwest archeology as a hobby. “But they lack precision of more than a few decades, so any depiction in art that can be fixed to a specific year is extremely valuable.”
He admitted, however, that “Without my background in astronomy, I probably wouldn’t have recognized the petroglyph for what it might represent.”
To support their hypothesis, Barentine and Esquerdo created an accurate model of the night sky on May 1, 1006, which shows the relative position of the supernova with respect to the constellation Scorpius matches the relative placement of scorpion and star symbols on the rock.
Petroglyphs are among the most durable and longest-lasting human art forms. They are made by cutting a rock surface using a smaller, handheld rock. …
Similar petroglyphs have been identified as likely depictions of historic astronomical events in the prehistoric Southwest. One of the most widely recognized examples is the pictograph near Penasco Blanco in Chaco Canyon National Monument, New Mexico.
There, a painted rock symbol is theorized to depict the supernova of July 4, 1054. As for the White Tanks Regional Park petroglyph in Arizona and its suspected relationship to the 1006 astronomical event, astronomers do not yet consider the results conclusive.
The next step will be to conduct chemical-dating test, which rely on the abundance of certain elements in the rock varnish. The tests could help confine the range of dates in which the petroglyph was created.
A result substantiating an early 11th century date of origin would lead considerable credence to the claim that the prehistoric symbol represents the 1006 supernova event.
New Scientist SPACE – Breaking News – Native Americans recorded supernova explosion by Zeeya Merali and Kelly Young
To make his case, Barentine and his colleague Gilbert A. Esquerdo, at the Planetary Science Institute, Tucson, used planetarium software to recreate the sky as it would have appeared in Arizona during the supernova’s appearance and overlaid it with photographs from the site.
The supernova would have been brighter than a planet, and both it and the constellation – which is shaped like a scorpion – would have appeared just above the edge of the rock, in the same orientation depicted in the carvings. Native Americans populated the region during that period and often recorded objects thought to have magical powers, says Barentine.
“It’s by no means conclusive, but I think it’s strong circumstantial evidence that the art depicts the supernova,” says Barentine. He announced his theory at the American Astronomical Society Meeting in Calgary, in Alberta, Canada, on Monday.
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LiveScience.com Blogs »Blog Archive » Did the Ancient Greeks and Native Americans Swap Starcharts? Author Ker Than
“a lot of thoughtful readers wrote in with a very good question: Scorpius is an ancient Greek invention, so what are the chances that Native Americans living more than an ocean away looked up at the night sky and also saw in the stars the outline of a scorpion?”
Be sure to follow the first link to the full article on Range Creek, Utah. It is long and detailed. This is an ‘unimproved’ area that is probably only suited those with a hard-core fascination with the Fremont culture. mjh
Salt Lake Tribune – An open range of treasures By Brett Prettyman, The Salt Lake Tribune
The Fremont were believed to have lived in the Southwest between 700 and 1350 A.D. Some archaeologists believe as many as 600 Fremont may have called Range Creek Canyon home at the peak of their storied history. By 1500, the Fremont people had vanished. Not until some 400 years later are there records of inhabitants finding Range Creek. Cattle were run in the area starting in 1885 and the first homesteaders arrived in 1915.
Range Creek was purchased by Ray Wilcox in 1951 from Preston Nutter. The Wilcox family ran cattle on the land until Ray’s son, Waldo Wilcox, sold his 1,600 acres along Range Creek for $2.5 million in 2001. While they collected some artifacts, the Wilcox family had protected the overall canyon from outsiders for five decades.
The canyon opened to the public in 2004 and it was not long before officials announced the first known case of looting. Two stone blades and a pottery fragment went missing in summer of 2004.
Therein lies the biggest problem in protecting the countless items left by the Fremont in Range Creek Canyon.
Duncan Metcalfe, curator of archaeology with the Utah Museum of Natural History and lead Range Creek researcher, says only 8 to 10 percent of the canyon has been surveyed, but that small portion turned up 350 sites – everything from unsealed granaries to massive petroglyph panels to a quiver of arrows tucked into a crack in the cliff wall. The real discoveries will come when archeologist take a shovel to the pit houses, something yet to happen in Range Creek. …
Visitors are only allowed to hike or ride horses in the canyon during daylight hours and some of the most amazing sites are deep within Range Creek. Most only make it about 4 miles into the canyon before turning around. Walking down the road from the gate, at 7,000 feet, is easy, but the return is all uphill. Camping is prohibited within the canyon, but is allowed at the gate.
There is an easier alternative. Several guiding companies are offering tours of Range Creek. The guides, when accompanied by a [Utah Division of Wildlife Resources] volunteer, are also allowed to drive the entire 14 miles of the road. The only other vehicles allowed in the canyon are for administrative purposes.
Salt Lake Tribune – Range Creek’s untouched archaeological area ‘a national treasure’ By Greg Lavine, The Salt Lake Tribune
Range Creek will not win any beauty contests, but for sheer archaeological value, it may stand alone.
“Simply stated, Range Creek Canyon shares many similarities with the world-famous Nine Mile Canyon just to the north, but without the 100 years of overt vandalism, visitor wear and tear, and the impacts of intensive ranching,” researchers wrote in a proposal to survey the Book Cliffs site. …
“We are united in our opinion that the archaeology of Range Creek is a national treasure and are committed to doing everything possible to protect it,” said Duncan Metcalfe, curator of archaeology with the Utah Museum of Natural History and a lead researcher at Range Creek….
Range Creek is as close to mint condition as archaeologists are likely to find these days. “We feel like this is an amazing opportunity to work here,” Barlow said.
A Navajo Tale: Canyon de Chelly is home to stone-age history By LAURIE KAVENAUGH – Style Editor
The Thunderbird Lodge is the only motel within Canyon de Chelly National Monument. Navajo people own and operate the Thunderbird, its cafeteria and gift shop. The quaint adobe buildings spread out at the mouth of the canyon among cottonwoods planted in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps. The complex sits just about where the first trading post was established in the 1880s. It was followed by a succession of trading post operators until the government hired a custodian in 1903 to keep an eye on the cliff dwellings down in the canyon.
By the end of the 19th century, tourists were paying to visit the dozens of cliff-house ruins left behind by the Anasazi, a Navajo word for “ancient enemies.” In the 20th century, archaeologists found evidence the canyon was probably a technology center for weaving. Today, the Navajo and the National Park Service work together to maintain the canyon. …
Canyon de Chelly is one of the few Anasazi sites in the Southwest that is still lived in by the Navajo. Although the Navajo arrived fairly late on the scene — sometime in the mid-to-late 1700s — they have had a rough time holding onto what they consider an ancestral home.
The canyon of many spirits by Mary Kirk-Anderson
First occupied by humans thousands of years ago, Canyon de Chelly is one of the longest continuously inhabited landscapes in North America…
Canyon de Chelly’s sheer walls, spectacular rock monoliths and fascinating connection with the native communities who have called it home, create a sense of a living place with more than simple geography to recommend it.
De Chelly (pronounced de Shay, from a corruption of tsegi, or rock canyon, the Navajo name for the area) is in Arizona’s north- eastern corner, in the Four Corners region, and lies within the great lands of the Navajo Nation. In 1931 it became a National Monument site and it is unique among National Park Service units in that it remains home to the canyon community and the NPS works in partnership with the Navajo Nation to manage the park resources. It is essentially private land. With the exception of one walking trail, the only way to enter the canyon is with a Navajo guide.
Made up of several gorges, the canyon is one of the longest continuously inhabited landscapes in North America, first occupied by the ancestral puebloans about 2000 years ago. Today, the steep walls preserve in remarkable condition easily viewed ancient ruins and rock paintings from as far back as the 12th century, tracing occupation of the canyon by the ancient Anasazi people, the Hopi tribe and latterly the Navajo, who arrived in the 1700s. …
Canyon de Chelly is about 115km north of the I40 Interstate between Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Flagstaff, Arizona. …
Two excellent rim drives, north and south, offer a series of spectacular overlooks.
ABQjournal: Coronado Today Kicks Off a Celebration of New Mexico Monuments’ 75th Anniversary By Kathleene Parker, For the Journal
Today, Kuaua and the state monument that protects it, Coronado, will launch the 75th anniversary of the founding of New Mexico’s monuments. Coronado State Monument shelters Pueblo and Spanish Colonial artifacts and is a vastly restored monument over what existed just months ago. …
Kuaua, a Tiwa word for evergreen, has long graced the spectacular landscape south of the Jemez River’s confluence with the Rio Grande near Bernalillo. The Sandia Mountains loom mightily a short distance to the southeast and the bosque along the Rio provides a montage of seasonal colors. Continue reading Kuaua and Coronado State Monument, Bernalillo, New Mexico
with Photographer/Educator Anthony Howell
Thursday 3/9/06 at 6:30 pm at the Arts Alliance Gallery. Continue reading Mogollon Rock Art Lecture and Slideshow