Canyons of the Ancients National Monument


Canyons of the Ancients National Monument

Infobox_protected_area | name = Canyons of the Ancients National Monument
iucn_category = III
nrhp_type = hd |



caption =
locator_x = 78
locator_y = 88
location = Montezuma County & Dolores County, Colorado, USA
nearest_city = Dolores, CO
lat_degrees = 37
lat_minutes = 22
lat_seconds = 14
lat_direction = N
long_degrees = 109
long_minutes = 0
long_seconds = 0
long_direction = W
area = 163,892 acres (663 km²)
established = June 9, 2000
visitation_num =
visitation_year =
governing_body = U.S. Bureau of Land Management
Canyons of the Ancients National Monument is located in the southwestern region of the U.S. state of Colorado, and is managed by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, an agency within the U.S. Department of the Interior. Created by a Presidential proclamation on June 9, 2000, the monument encompasses 164,000 acres (663 km²) and surrounds three of the four separate sections of Hovenweep National Monument, which is administered by the National Park Service. Canyons of the Ancients was set aside to preserve and protect the largest concentration of archeological sites in the United States. As of 2005, over 6,000 individual archeological sites had been identified within the monument.

History

Paleo-indian inhabitation of the region extends back at least 10,000 years. Hunters from the paleo-indian period left behind clovis spearpoints and other evidence of their nomadic lifestyle, which continued until about 7500 BC. Around 1500 BC, the Basketmaker culture resided in the region, leading a more sedentary lifestyle. Later the Anasazi or "ancient ones" lived permanently in the region beginning around 750 BC. The Anasazi were puebloan farmers, residing in the region long enough to build permanent homes, villages and city centers. After 1300 AD, the puebloan culture ended for unknown reasons, but drought, warfare and resource depeletion may have all contributed to their decline. The vast majority of stone structures that are found scattered across the monument are from the puebloan period. The Ute and Navaho eventually came to inhabit region and had encounters with Spanish missionaries who frequented the area after 1700 AD. The first Anglo American explorers arrived after 1830. With the discovery of precious ores in the last decades of the 19th Century, white settlers built and populated towns in the region.

tructures

At least 6,000 distinct structures have been identified in the monument, and the density of archeological remains is the highest of any region in the U.S. After building basic pit style structures at first, the puebloans later built cliff dwellings. As refinements in construction techniques increased, the puebloans later built large pueblos, or villages. A very large open site, Sand Canyon Pueblo contains at least 420 rooms, 90 kivas, and 14 towers. The site was evidently chosen for a spring at the head of a small canyon. Excavations indicate that the pueblo was built to an architectural plan, and was constructed between 1250 and 1270. Additional residential rooms were added later. Distinct features include a D-shaped multiwalled structure and a great kiva, and characteristics which may be related to Chaco Canyon architecture. Stone towers which may have been lookout or sentry posts, are found scattered throughout the monument. Other man-made remains include reservoirs with stone and earthen dams, including spillways and also numerous check dams, built in case of flash floods. Sweat lodges, shrines and petroglyphs are also found throughout the monument region.

Resource issues

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management administers the monument and enforces regulations balancing resource protection with land conservation. 85% of the monument is under lease by ranchers and oil and gas exploration entities. In the first years of the 21st century, increased oil and gas exploration and extraction has posed potential threats to the archeological resources in the monument. Off road vehicles and an increase in road construction for oil and gas exploration, allow greater access to archeological areas. Large trucks, known as "thumpers" can be found in many areas of the monument, searching for oil and gas pockets by pounding the earth and recording the seismic data. Vandalism and treasure hunting are difficult to minimize due to an inadequate number of federal employees and law enforcement personal to monitor and prosecute those that deface ruins or steal archeological remains. Thousands of undocumented artifacts have been removed from the monument and now reside in private collections. A news article (link below) in July, 2006, reported that funding for the monument had decreased by almost 40% since 2004, and that a particularly severe looting episode occurred in January, 2006.

Wildlife

Wildlife and plant habitat is also threatened by increased road and building construction by oil and gas interests. The Monument is home to a wide variety of desert wildlife, including the Mesa Verde nightsnake, the Long-Nosed Leopard lizard and the Twin-spotted Spiny Lizard. Peregrine falcons, Golden eagles, American kestrels, Red-tailed hawks are but a few species of birds found in the monument. Mammals such as the Mule deer, fox and bobcat are uncommon but known to inhabit the semi-arid environment.

External links

*cite web | last = | first = | authorlink = | coauthors = | year = | url = http://www.co.blm.gov/canm/ | title = Canyons of the Ancients National Monument | format = | work = | publisher = U.S. Bureau of Land Management| accessdate = 2006-08-13 | accessyear =
*cite web | last = | first = | authorlink = | coauthors = | year = | url = http://www.discovernlcs.org/TheNLCS/Monuments/CanyonsOfTheAncients.cfm | title = Canyons of the Ancients National Monument | format = | work = | publisher = National Landscape Conservation System| accessdate = 2006-08-13 | accessyear =
*cite news | last = | first = | coauthors = | title = U.S. House tries to protect ruins | work = | pages = | language = | publisher = Durango Herald | date = 2006-07-13 | url = http://www.durangoherald.com/asp-bin/article_generation.asp?article_type=news&article_path=/news/06/news060713_5.htm | accessdate =


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