The project sought to document cliff dwellings and other prehistoric sites in the Cherry Creek area of east-central Arizona. In 1995 and 1996, major expeditions were mounted to revisit all of the cliff dwellings and other sites recorded since 1981, and to conduct additional survey work to locate new sites in middle Cherry Creek. Four weeks were spent each fall with dozens of volunteers from all over the world. Over the two seasons, nearly 20 cliff dwellings were fully documented and more than 40 new sites were recorded. The documentation involved completion of more than 1700 forms, 40 rolls of black and white film, and over 20 rolls of color slide film. We now have a great dataset of site condition at this point in time, and learned a tremendous amount about the construction and remodeling of the sites. We also placed long-term temperature recording devices and have thousands of lines of data documenting diurnal temperature fluctuations in the sites and in the canyons. These data show the importance of passive solar heating in the siting of these villages.
“The project was made possible by the Tonto National Forest; Arizona State Museum, University of Arizona; Statistical Research, Inc.; Earthwatch; and Amaterra. Without the help of Amaterra, the field projects in 1995 and 1996 would not have been possible. Amaterra supplied a vehicle, a large tent, a generator, a camp kitchen with complete set of cooking and other supplies, water system, housing for participants, and the labor to put up and take down the camp each field season. These items and assistance made a very difficult and primitive camp situation bearable, and even enjoyable, for the staff and volunteers. The staff and volunteers offer their deepest thanks for the support. Your invaluable help made the project possible!”
Sand Canyon Pueblo (A.D. 1250) is one of an unknown number of settlements developed in the thirteenth century by the ancient pueblo people in Southwest Colorado. The Pueblo is located at the head of Sand Canyon, a tributary to the McElmo Creek, a few miles west of Cortez, Colorado and Mesa Verde National Park. The Pueblo consists of 400+ rooms, 89+ kivas (underground ceremonial structures), 15+ towers, at least one water 1985reservoir, a cliff dwelling, and a D-shaped bi-wall structure and a Great Kiva.
Our desire to support the research program of Crow Canyon Archaeological Center in Cortez, Colorado led Amaterra to begin work in 1985. We believed that this work of studying, nurturing, and honoring the past, and the lives of the ancient ones who built Sand Canyon Pueblo, enabled them to have a voice to speak to us about today’s human interface with the environment.
Many of our members feel that Sand Canyon Pueblo is a sacred site of great importance to those who built it. Our concern for the Earth and its special places requires no less of us than to treat them with appropriate care, to nurture them, and to touch them in ways of active respect. This was the heart of Amaterra’s presence at the Pueblo.
Direct Support- Care of the Pueblo and assistance to the CCAC staff included site security to prevent unauthorized intrusion during the most intense periods of excavation, and the building of on-site kitchen, dining, laboratory, meeting, storage, and housing facilities. Later, by assisting in final landscaping of the backfilled areas of the Pueblo, members helped to hasten the time when the site returned to the state it was in before excavation began.
Trail Building- Many trails were built to assist with public interpretation and the prevention of damage to the site. Through numerous such activities members sought to create a harmonious and caring atmosphere associated the the human involvement at the Pueblo. This was perhaps the most important direct contribution of Amaterra to the Pueblo.
Plant Studies- Members collected and identified plants in the immediate area of the Pueblo. At one time our on site herbarium consisted of more than fifty species of plants. To assist Crow Canyon Center’s phenology project we made regular observations of the seasonality of a number of plant population in the area. The archaeologists have determined that the particular plants were of interest to the builders of the pueblo.
Meteorology- Members built and maintained three weather stations in the area. The main station was located at the Pueblo, the second, in the canyon below, and the third two miles to the west near one of the Center’s experimental gardens.
Animal Studies- Members identified forty-nine species of birds and seventeen species of mammals and reptiles at the Pueblo. We published pamphlets describing these animals for visitors to the site.
Evening Programs- Through the years, members provided many evening programs for the Center. These often included preparing and serving meals for as many as sixty people. Numerous campfire talks provided programs of interest both to the Center’s staff and to the public.
Student Internships- During each of the years of Amaterra’s work at Sand Canyon Pueblo from five to ten student internships were made available to students who were at least eighteen years old. These two week long internships provided full room and board.
“On behalf of the Board, the staff, and the participants of Crow Canyon, please accept our sincere thanks for Amaterra’s years of service and support at the Sand Canyon Pueblo excavations. Scientifically, these excavations have been enormously important. As a theater for popular education, they have been enormously successful. That success was made possible in no small part by the remarkable efforts of you and your organization. Again, thank you for your years of volunteer support. I very much hope that Crow Canyon and Amaterra can work together again on future projects.”
-C. Paul Johnson, Chairman of the Board, CCAC August 27, 1993
“…They (Amaterra) provide us with environmental monitoring, interpretive, caretaking and logistical support at a remote 13th Century archaeological site that is the focus of our long-term research program. The result has been a tangible increase in the aesthetic, natural and cultural quality of the site and an increase in appreciation of those qualities by visitors who come in contact with Amaterra volunteers…”
-Ian Thompson, Executive Director, CCAC December 29, 1987