Participants in a Road Scholars (formerly Elderhostel) program inventoried 23 boxes of Ancestral Puebloan artifacts at the Anasazi Heritage Center last week. The program, an educational service trip, was offered in association with McElmo Canyon Research Institute, a nonprofit organization headquartered at Kelly Place.
The 16 members of the group counted thousands of potsherds and rehoused them in archival bags, learning the basics of artifact curation while also encountering Ancestral Puebloan culture firsthand. Among their discoveries in the bags of bulk sherds was a pendant shaped from a black-and-white sherd.
The artifacts were collected during the Dolores Archaeological Program (DAP) in the 1970s and early 1980s. One of the largest archaeological projects in the history of the United States, the DAP recorded 1,600 archaeological and historic sites in southwest Colorado prior to the construction of McPhee Dam and Reservoir. More than 1.5 million DAP artifacts are curated at the Anasazi Heritage Center, which was built specifically to house these collections.
The Road Scholars program took place in association with a two-year grant for more than $100,000 that McElmo Canyon Research Institute, in partnership with the Anasazi Heritage Center, has received from the Colorado Historical Societys State Historical Fund to improve DAP collections preservation and database access.
The DAP collections include more than 5,000 boxes of artifacts, said Victoria Atkins, acting director of the Anasazi Heritage Center. Through the work of curation staff, grant-funded museum technicians, and dedicated volunteers such as the Road Scholars, we have inventoried approximately 25 percent of the collection so far. This work not only helps preserve fragile artifacts, but also makes the information much more accessible for research and exhibitions.
The Road Scholar participants appreciated their experience at the Anasazi Heritage Center, especially having knowledgeable staff willing to help them understand and interpret what they were uncovering in the storage boxes. Several of them said that they hope to return again, said Jerene Waite, PhD, director of McElmo Canyon Research Institute. Information about future Road Scholars educational programs at the Anasazi Heritage Center is available at www.roadscholar.org.
The Bureau of Land Management Anasazi Heritage Center, a museum and visitor center for Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, is open daily through the year. Summer hours now in effect are from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, contact the museum at (970) 882-5600 or visit HYPERLINK http://www.co.blm.gov/ahc www.co.blm.gov/ahc.