Day1...The cool, crisp mountain air encourages quick dressing and deep breathing...still acclimating to the thinner mountain air. After breakfast of oatmeal and iron skillet toast made over an open campfire, we are off to the 'Dig Site'.
Walking along the ancient trail with eyes on the ground I spot a shard. My first piece of 1000 year old pottery. And they said this was going to be hard digging. And it was after the first five inches of loose dirt in the spot designated to the lowest ranking amateur archeologist. Troweling and brushing that first five inches of loose dirt revealed the top of a wall. How exciting and again, so easy!
After several hours of shallow digging, four walls of a 4x4 room can be seen as the high noon sun beats down through the twisted trunk and branches of a tree that was not there when the walls were first built by the Ancients. The unusually small room is a puzzle to the experienced diggers. It is customary to josh with the amateur...so the experts calling my room a potty or jail cell fell on deaf ears as I was sure it was the Treasure Room...and so it was.
The Treasure was not an easy find. Digging through centuries of packed dirt, rocks from pebbles to boulders, and gnarled roots made me glad to have been assigned what was surely thought of as a 'Dud Dugout' by the experts. However, after the discovery of a rare obsidian arrow head in one corner, and the cache of whole pots in another corner, the experts were astonished. I was humbled and honored beyond words as I held the perfect tiny black obsidian point in my hand knowing I was the first person in over a thousand years to do so.
In the end, my 'Dud Dugout' turned out to be a storage closet connected to a larger room by a walk way that once served as a door. The two rooms were fronted by a courtyard with a ceremonial fire pit. The Anasazi entered their dugout home through an opening in the timber roof. There are numerous theories of how and why these ancient sites were abandoned and belongings left behind for the blowing sand and eons of winter weather to rot the timbers and fill the dugouts.
For this Artifact Artist, every piece of pottery found was a treasure. Every rock that was used to grind corn was an amazing piece of ancient history. Every drawing, painting and reproduction piece of pottery made from the Ancient Artifacts continue to be treasured reminders of a once in a lifetime experience.