From April 16-22, 2017, we joined an archaeological survey group (sponsored by Road Scholar) in the Four Corners area (where Utah, Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico come together) to look for artifacts associated with various ancestral Pueblo (Anasazi) peoples. The survey involved stumbling up hills and down creek beds, and tripping over logs and sagebrush bushes, to search for pottery sherds and hand tools. Our group consisted of 11 people from all over the United States. We all had a lot of fun!
Dick and I have done similar trips in 2014 (cataloging and repackaging artifacts) and 2016 (hiking to ruins). We do enjoy hiking in scenic places and preserving history. And if you can do both in the same trip, so much the better!
During the week we stayed at Kelly Place, a bed and breakfast near Cortez, Colorado. They have wonderful food, a fascinating library, and a cat named Cookie Dough, who meows to be petted.
The archaeological survey
The survey took place on private property in the Dolores, Colorado, area. Two groups of about 6 people each spread out in a line and “transected” several predetermined plots of land, flagging relevant items as we walked. We wrote up the areas that were “thick” with artifacts, in preparation for a detailed scientific paper to be written at some point in the future. The data and papers will be made available to researchers on the Internet.
Education, inspiration, and entertainment
We had several daytime and evening events that contributed to our knowledge of the area, our surveying task of the week, and our understanding of Native American cultures. Examples are illustrated in the pictures below.
Ute Mountain Tribal Park
On Friday we drove south of Cortez to Ute tribal land that can be visited only with a guide. Our guide, Ritchie, took us to see artifacts, rock art, and cliff dwellings, which required the descent and ascent of ladders and a two-mile hike along the cliff face.