Crow Canyon Archaeology

Following the Ute Mountain Tribal Park visit, we went to Crow Canyon Archaeological Center (CCAC) outside Cortez, CO. to take a deeper dive into the scientific research and knowledge accumulated by professional archaeologists and native cultural experts about the Puebloan peoples of the past 2,000+ years.

On the way, a slice of the old west: cowboys herding cattle across the road. Have now seen this twice, with black and red angus. A sentimentally favorite scene.

Our guides, Tyson (archaeology) and Michelle (cultural anthropology), drove just the two of us to a newly-started dig on a site that had been in private hands for decades, recently acquired by the CCAC Board for partial excavation and protection.

It is often the case in western lands that historically significant sites are first privately owned after colonization, and when artifacts are found by the owners, unfortunately they are simply dug up and sold to the highest bidder. All knowledge of what the artifacts were, who lived there and what significance it has for our understanding of ancient peoples is lost.

Such was the case with the Haynie site to the north of Cortez, which contained at least two kivas, an unknown number of residences, and possibly a great kiva. Much has been looted and lost, but there is still much to be discovered. There are 22,000+ such sites in Montezuma County alone (where Cortez, the Ute Mountain Tribal Park and Mesa Verde are all located).

It was great to see the grid quadrants at Haynie that had recently been opened to reveal evidence of ancient hearths and walls. We conversed with our guides at the site for about 90 minutes on site, until cold and rain drove us back to the research center.

We also got to see the lab where artifacts are washed, examined for microscopic evidence of foods, human DNA, etc., and where technicians pore through sifted soils clinging to potsherds, stones, tools, etc.

George got to try spear-throwing with an atlatl (ancient throwing lever that predates bow and arrow), and we both got to try starting a fire with an archaic fire friction kit.

So much to learn about in the laborious and highly-trained fields of archaeology, as well as the findings of the past 25 years in the field. A great deal has changed since our last brush with this discipline – really exciting to think what lies ahead, and to come back for the CCAC’s multi-day Cultural Exploration and Archaeology programs in the Four Corners area!!

Who knew? Southern CO is Pie Paradise!

Wow, SoCo must be the destination for retired breadmakers and pastry chefs! Great Piemaker Bakery in Cortez, with fabulous cream scones and fruit pies. In Pagosa Springs, great Pagosa Bread Company sells yummy cookies as well as frozen Rugulach to bake at home!! Black cherry and apple pies!! Whole grain and fruit breads! Someone has also referred us to a reputedly fabulous bakery in Lake City, not far from Gunnison (where we found fabulous pizza!). I’d say that is a good bakery/mileage ratio of 1 to 150! There’s hope after all!

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