By Linda Kor
Petrified Forrest National Park officials have announced the discovery of two very similar villages located less than a mile a part from each other while surveying expansion lands recently acquired by the park.
According to park archeologist Bill Reitze, one village was discovered last summer and the second this summer while surveying the new lands for the park.
“Each site has about 50 to 70 pit houses that are slab lined. I would say that they were built between 200 and 700 A.D.,” said Reitze.
While others similar to these are found elsewhere in the park, these are the largest found so far, with the other sites revealing two to three pithouses. “I would say that each of the sites had from 100 to 150 people living in them at one time. This would be at the beginning of the ceramic period, but both sites turned up fragments of brown ceramics and stone points that are indicative of the late Basketmaker period,” he said.
Most of the structures had walls and floors covered in sandstone, which is common for the region although there’s no stone to be found around the village indicating that the inhabitants carried the slabs from other locations.
According to Reitze, the sites will be closed off for research and potential excavation, but he anticipates that at some point they will be made available for visitors at the park to view. He hopes that more sites will be found as they continue to take stock of the land and that more clues will be revealed about the existence of the ancient cultures once found there.