Thursday, April 14, 2011

New Effort Aimed at Solving Pueblo Mysteries

Cliff Palace at Mesa Verde.

Archaeologists of the Crow Canyon Archaeological Center are launching new investigations that could address several mysteries surrounding the Pueblo Indians of the American Southwest.

The Dillard site, located in the central Mesa Verde region in Colorado, is a Pueblo ceremonial center that dates from the 7th century AD. Based on surveys and test excavations, the site includes evidence of a "great kiva" ~ a room used by Pueblo Indians for religious purposes ~ measuring 10 meters in diameter and 1 meter deep, and at least several smaller structures called "pit-houses."

According to Popular Archeology:
The test excavations revealed the kiva to be one of the oldest public buildings in the Mesa Verde region. The site was first recorded during a survey in 1991 by Woods Canyon Archaeological Consultants (WCAC) preliminary to the construction of a private residential community. That survey also revealed evidence of more than 120 other pit-houses surrounding the core Dillard site, making the Dillard site and surrounding area one of the largest clusters of remains from this time period. 
Says Dr. Shirley Powell, Vice President of Programs at the Crow Canyon Archaeological Center: "This new study will shed light on a pivotal, but under-investigated and poorly understood time in Pueblo history: the Basketmaker III period (AD 500 - 750). This period saw rapid population growth in the Mesa Verde region. The population boom ushered in an era of great technological advances and social change.
Through study and analysis of the recovered artifacts and revealed structures, the Crow Canyon team hopes to be able to answer key questions about this period that have escaped archaeologists for years, including where the people came from and how they made the transition from a foraging society to an agricultural one.  

Click here for the complete article.

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