New Canyons of the Ancients Exhibit Documents Sites

2/28/2022

A special exhibit at the Canyons of the Ancients Visitors Center highlights 15 years of documentation research on sites in the national monument and how science and art together can give us a greater understanding of the Ancestral Puebloans' culture and relationship to the landscape. This story is sponsored by Pop's Truck and RV Center, Choice Building Supply Ace Hardware, Kroegers Ace Hardware, and Ace Hardware of Farmington

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A new exhibit highlighting 15 years of documentation research on sites in the Canyons of the Ancients National Monument offers a detailed glimpse into the ancestral Puebloan's culture and relationship to the landscape. You're watching the Local News Network brought to you by Pop's Truck and RV Center, and the ACE hardware stores in the four corners. I'm Wendy Graham Settle. Sand, stone, and songs. Ancient Lessons from a Living Landscape opened in February at the Canyons of the Ancients visitor center and museum, North of Cortez. The special exhibit displays 15 years of documentation work by national monument archeologists and scientists, and graduate students from the Center for Preservation Research at the University of Colorado at Denver. Researchers used photos and 3D laser scanning to create hand drawn detailed architectural renderings as part of a long-term effort to document, preserve, and protect the sites, and to better understand the ancestral Puebloan's occupation of Southwest Colorado.

We're documenting it as one step in the preservation process, but it also is illuminating about that connection with Puebloan cultures. And who've been occupied this landscape for literally hundreds of generations. And to see these structures that they built 800 years ago, and they're still standing, and they're still there. And the sort of lessons of sustainability and adaptability, of what it takes to live in a landscape like ours for thousands of years. And what we can take from that now, and both understanding how to preserve the sites, but also into the future. And what the architects then themselves take into their understanding of architecture.

While the exhibit documents several accessible sites, like Lowry Ruin, or Saddlehorn Hamlet in Sand Canyon. It also includes drawings and photos from a number of sites that aren't open to the public. The variety of villages included in the exhibit reveals that many great Kivas were located on sites with deep soils to facilitate excavation for their foundations. And they're also providing clues about migration patterns, and farming practices in the region.

There's multiple millennial long patterns of migration within Puebloan culture, and how you adapt to a desert landscape as a farmer. And that involved regular migration over multiple generations. And then how that has sort of that changed when both other tribes came into the area, the Utes or the Navajo, and also the Spanish come into the Southwest as well. And so that sort of changes a lot of that millennia long migration patterns.

Although the centuries old masonry and Canyons of the Ancients has stood the test of time. MacMillan noted that the drawings also show just how fragile the sites actually are.

The ultimate goal of the exhibit really is to help us preserve and manage the resources. And to do that, we really need the help of the public, and we need their understanding of how sensitive they are. And so showing them the lengths we go to to document them, the lengths we go to to bring tribal members out to talk about them to try to understand them better, is hopefully will give them some of that. Empower them to help us manage them in a way that they're more sensitive to the resources.

The 176,000 acre region known as Canyons of the Ancients was designated a national monument by presidential proclamation in 2000. It contains the highest density of ancestral Puebloan sites in the country. Archeologists estimate the region may contain more than 30,000 sites. Only 8,300 of which have been identified. Summer museum hours are 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM, Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. Visit blm.gov and search Canyons of the Ancients for more information. Thanks for watching this edition of the Local News Network. I'm Wendy Graham Settle.

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