All posts by mjh

Mark Justice Hinton lives in New Mexico and loves the Four Corners region, as well as the Rocky Mountains. Write him at

Canyons of the Ancients National Monument

Painted Hands PuebloCanyons of the Ancients National Monument in southwestern Colorado contains a huge number of archaeological sites (more than 6000 recorded, up to 100 per square mile in some places) representing the Ancestral Puebloan and other Native American cultures, as well as important historic and environmental resources.

Bureau of Land Management Colorado – Canyons of the Ancients National Monument

The area of this relatively new National Monument is east of Hovenweep National Monument and north of Mesa Verde National Park. It includes Lowry Ruins, Yellowjacket Ruins and many, many less-well-known ruins. The headquarters are in the Anasazi Heritage Center, between Dolores and Cortez. mjh

Ancient pueblos forced to cope with drought-or perish

Pueblo Bonito photoWhy did a culture that had survived previous droughts collapse during this one?

The answer, experts say, is a cautionary tale about coping with drought in the arid West.

Wherever you live in the Southwest, it ultimately comes down to the same thing: If it isn’t dry now, wait. It will be. And the pattern appears to be repeating.

Ancient pueblos forced to cope with drought-or perish By John Fleck, Durango Herald Online

Interesting article about the effect of the cycle of drought in the southwestern United States, by the abqjournal’s science writer. mjhmjh

Senate OKs Funds for Chaco Collection

Caretakers of the huge Chaco Culture archaeological collection are cheered by U.S. Senate approval of $3.7 million to finish construction of a home for the artifacts.

Wendy Bustard, curator of the National Park Service collection, said the move last week raises hopes that the measure will clear the House by September.

The funding would complete construction of the Frank C. Hibben Center for Archaeological Research at the University of New Mexico. The Chaco Collection will occupy the second and third floors at the center, she said.

“We are excited about it,” Bustard said of the Senate’s approval on Thursday.. “Both the Park Service and UNM are anxious to get on with it.”

Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., sponsored the Senate bill.

Bustard said the Park Service could begin moving the collection into the Hibben Center by fall 2004 if the House approves the money.

For now, an estimated 1.5 million artifacts in about 2,000 boxes are held in a cramped storeroom at UNM. The material was collected at the 35,000-acre Chaco Culture National Historical park, 50 miles west of Cuba.

Some 5,000 Chaco Anasazi lived at the site from the mid-800s to about 1200.

Hibben, who died last year at age 91, donated $4 million to build the Hibben Center next to UNM’s Maxwell Museum. The building’s shell and first floor were completed last year.

Completion of the second and third floors will allow UNM and the Park Service to consolidate their Chaco Culture collections at one site, together with archaeological field records, photos and other archival materials now housed at Zimmerman Library, she said. — by Olivier Uyttebrouck, ABQjournal

Pueblo Bonito arial photoAnasazi drinking mug photoThe Chaco Collection, jointly owned and managed by the Maxwell Museum and the National park Service Cultural Research Division, contains approximately 750,000 artifacts from archaeological field work in Chaco Canyon. The collections were acquired from the 1940s through the early 1980s during excavation, testing, stabilization and survey of sites in the canyon and surrounding areas.

Chaco Canyon

Link to Anasazi Great Houses

This website is from the Univerisity of Idaho. It lists 16 Chaco Outliers (several of which I’ve never heard of); outliers are larger sites outside of Chaco Canyon but clearly linked to it. Each site is described and a map is displayed with links to QuickTime Virtual Reality display (requires a browser plug-in; there is a link to download the plug-in on the Introduction page). Great website. mjh


Mystery of Chaco Canyon on PBS

PBS repeated a show from 1999 by Anna Sofaer, the discoverer of the meaning of the Sun Dagger on Fajada Butte in Chaco Canyon, New Mexico. Sofaer has also discovered that various buildings in and around Chaco have very specific orientations to the sun and the moon (which she says no other culture has done) and to each other. The computer animations depicting the movements of the sun and moon relative to the buildings is a great part of this show. A videotape is available. mjh