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Karl shows us where the archaeological sites are on the map during our tour of the canyon.

The view of Montoya Butte from the dig site


Now that my Earthwatch expedition has started, my teammates and I are students, just like you! Archaeologist Karl Laumbach will be teaching us about the history of the Monticello Box Ranch by sharing his knowledge, and we'll also learn from hands-on experience when we begin to help excavate the site. First we needed to get some background on the work that has already been done here, and what archaeologists have learned from it. On Sunday morning, Karl and Dennis O'Toole took us on a tour of the canyon.

We learned that there are four important archaeological sites here. They are quite close together, and they span a range in time from A.D. 600 to 1400. Some of the artifacts and dwellings that are found here are typical of the prehistoric Mogollon people who lived in the southern part of New Mexico, while others are more like those of the Anasazi people who lived farther north. Archaeologists are interested in learning if groups of Anasazis moved south to make their homes here, and if they did, were they here at the same time as the Mogollon people?

As we toured the area, Karl helped us learn how to recognize the stone structures that the people who lived here left behind. One of the special things about this site is that, unlike many of the other sites in the southwest, the ruins in this area have been undisturbed. Today we stood on top of the ruins of rooms that have been untouched since their inhabitants left them more than 700 years ago. So much history right under our feet!

Credits: Courtesy of Shayne Russell