Monday, July 6, 2009

News About Chimney Rock Excavations, Pima County Moves to Protect Hohokam Village Site.

Southwestern Archaeology Making the News - A Service of the Center for Desert Archaeology

- Excavations at Chimney Rock: Take a 1,000-year-old, ancient Puebloan site that links to a major astronomical “capital” 100 miles away, combine it with archaeology connections to the University of Colorado spanning 40 years, and you end up with a masterpiece of excavation and mystery just a half-hour from Pagosa Springs. The Chimney Rock Archaeology Area is best known locally as the towering pillars of stone that rise above the valley floor near the intersection of U.S. 160 and Colo. 151. Visible from areas in Pagosa Springs, the formations are just a small part of the site that has attracted attention from archaeologists both regionally and worldwide. In fact, a film crew from the National Geographic Society was at the site in late June to document the current project, which could provide conclusive evidence that Chimney Rock is not a stand-alone site, but part of a much larger group of ancient pueblos whose function is related to astronomical events.

- Colorado Representative John Salazar Visits Chimney Rock Project: Salazar praised the efforts of federal, state and private groups, including University of Colorado at Boulder faculty and student archaeologists, who are working together to investigate and restore the Chimney Rock Archaeological Area near Pagosa Springs, Colo. The site is considered one of the most spectacular Ancestral Pueblo ruins in all of the Southwest. Salazar toured Chimney Rock, believed to be an important religious and ceremonial center for the Pueblo people 1,000 years ago, on June 30. The 4,100-acre Chimney Rock Archaeological Area features two spectacular rock pinnacles, a Pueblo Great House, a ceremonial Great Kiva and a variety of other stone structures. The site is located at an altitude of 7,800 feet, high above the valley floor, and appears to have been sacred to the Pueblo elite who likely watched the moon periodically rise between the rock pinnacles.

- John Salazar's Bill to Provide Mesa Verde with 22 Million Dollars for New Visitor's Center Passes in US House: The proposed visitor and curatorial center at Mesa Verde National Park stands to receive $22 million under a funding bill passed by the U.S. House of Representatives. The money was requested by U.S. Rep. John Salazar, who announced the funding Wednesday at Mesa Verde. The bill contains $11.6 million for the curatorial center and $10.5 million for the visitors center. Both centers will be housed in one building near the park's entrance. - Durango Herald

- Pima County Hopes to Preserve Ancient Hohokam Village: The county hopes to capitalize on the low land values hitting commercial investors now as it tries to secure state funds to buy 67 acres on the Southwest side for preservation. The county wants a state grant to purchase the archeologically-rich Valencia Site, near West Valencia Road and Interstate 19, most of which it will preserve. A small portion will be used for public education. The site includes about 1,800 Hohokam pithouses and represents about 500 years of Hohokam occupation.

- Autry National Center Hits Roadblock in Planned Takeover of Southwest Museum: A panel of five City Council members — faced with a polite crowd of more than 200 people divided between those with “Yes!” decals urging approval of the Autry’s plans and others with multicolored paper “S.O.S.” buttons, for “Save Our Southwest” — voted unanimously to delay a decision for four weeks. It urged the Autry to provide legal assurances by then that the Southwest Museum of the American Indian in Mount Washington won't become just an afterthought to a larger, more comprehensive Griffith Park facility. - Los Angeles Times

- The Strange Story of Everett Ruess continues: Any doubt that remains found in the Utah wilderness were those of Everett Ruess, a legendary wanderer of the 1930s, seemed to be erased by a battery of forensic and genetic tests a few months ago. But Utah's state archaeologist, who was not involved in the discovery, is raising a series of questions about whether the remains are actually those of the poet and artist who disappeared in the Escalante canyons.

Thanks to Michael D Mauer for contributions to today's newsletter.