Archive for July 24th, 2008

I like dirt!

Posted on July 24, 2008. Filed under: Culture, Science, Travel |

Dirt, of the archaeological kind, not so much of the celebrity gossip kind. A few weeks ago I wrote about visiting the mountains of northern Arizona, and happening upon a more-than-thousand-year-old residential site recently discovered on land which had been inhabited by the same family for 130 years. The family never knew it was there!

Just this month, while doing construction on a new park for a nearby town, a 700-year-old site was found. The park now needs to be constructed around the ancient site, which will be preserved and become part of the park. Remains of bodies buried there have been claimed by the local tribe; and rightly so. It’s interesting that the bodies of dogs were found at the site, and that no one knows quite what that means, other than that dogs must have been important to the people, as they were carefully buried. I’ve heard of cats buried and mummified in Egypt, but this was the first I’d heard of dogs. I plan to go see the site when it’s open. Officials, and local native leaders have identified the site as belonging to the same people who built the largest and best preserved southern Arizona Hohokam tribal structure.

I feel deeply connected to the earth, and I think these ancient sites have a lot to tell us. I’m not an archaeologist, amateur or otherwise, but I’d liked to find things in the ground from a young age. I’d come in from the back yard or the beach; the park or the playground covered in dirt, which displeased my mother, but “Look at this Rock I found!” or “Shell!” or “Bone!”  Besides, there were people who would travel north of us, to a hotsprings in the Napa Valley, and pay good money for a mudbath! I did this for myself for free! (I had great skin as a result.)

There seem to be a lot of new finds lately, including in one of the richest archaeological areas, Peru. Just recently, a thousand-year-old mummy was discovered there, as well as a ceremonial plaza dating civilization there back to 3500 B.C.E. Can you imagine?

I like to visit sites such as these (I haven’t been to Peru yet, but I want to go) because when I do, and allow myself to become quiet, I really do feel a connection with the ancient peoples. I find it heartening to know that these ancient sites are still being found, and in many cases, preserved. The “western way” used to be to build new cities and highways and parking lots over these things. Now, we’re a bit more respectful.

How about this? A man out hunting one day in looked down and found this rock, in 2004, in New Mexico, USA. It has a reverse carving of an image exactly like a crop circle found in 1996, in Oxfordshire, England. He finally, just this month, allowed the rock to be tested; the results are here.  I draw no conclusions, but it certainly gets me to think…

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