Archeology motherlode in Utah
June 25, 2004 11:05 AM   Subscribe

Artifacts were lying on the ground untouched for more than 1,000 years.
For sixty years Waldo Wilcox, a rancher in Utah, kept people off his land about 130 miles South of Salt Lake City. The reason was a string of prehistoric indian settlements that stretch 12 miles. (more inside)
posted by wsg (13 comments total)
My local paper, The Northwest Florida Daily News, ran this small story today:

Ancient settlement found in Utah

SALT LAKE CITY — For more than 50 years, rancher Waldo Wilcox kept most outsiders off his land and the secret under wraps: a string of ancient Indian settlements so remarkably well-preserved that arrowheads and beads are still lying out in the open.

Archeologists are calling it one of the most spectacular finds in the West.

Hidden deep inside Utah’s nearly inaccessible Book Cliffs region, 130 miles from Salt lake City, the prehistoric villages run for 12 miles and include hundreds of rock art panels, cliffside granaries, stone houses built halfway underground, rock shelters, and the mummified remains of long-ago inhabitants. The site was occupied for at least 3,000 years until it abandoned more than 1,000 years ago, when the Fremont people mysteriously vanished. "

Can't find much on the internet about it, yet. Here are a few pics and here is a brief .pdf describing a hike in the area. I look forward to the inevitable National Geographic special.

posted by wsg at 11:11 AM on June 25, 2004

Wow...that's dedication.

hee hee..."pot hunters"
posted by ArsncHeart at 11:11 AM on June 25, 2004

should have closed that italics tag one paragraph sooner...
posted by wsg at 11:18 AM on June 25, 2004

I have to hope it doesn't get turned into an LDS sideshow on the Lamanites. Waldo Wilcox seems like a really interesting guy. Thanks for the link, wsg.
posted by lobakgo at 11:31 AM on June 25, 2004

i love stories like this. great link wsg.
posted by _sirmissalot_ at 11:36 AM on June 25, 2004

This deserves a follow up post - more pictures.
posted by thomcatspike at 12:04 PM on June 25, 2004

posted by Miles Long at 12:15 PM on June 25, 2004

There are sites on federal land in New Mexico like this. Not necessarily untouched, but with jewelry and pottery just lying around.
posted by hyperizer at 12:41 PM on June 25, 2004

Amazing cool story. Waldo Wilcox deserves a lot more than $2.5M he should get some kind of humanitarian recognition.
posted by stbalbach at 12:57 PM on June 25, 2004

A bit more info here.
posted by wsg at 2:03 PM on June 25, 2004

Wilcox was a very smart fella. There's been a world of improvement in the field of archaeology over the past fifty years. With any luck, "we" will actually do a really fine job of preserving and learning from this resource. I don't think the same could be said a half-century ago.

I hope they bar the public until they've very thoroughly inventoried, photographed, and protected everything. And I really, really hope someone with strong moral character is running the show.
posted by five fresh fish at 4:43 PM on June 25, 2004

"  Gov. Olene Walker said that state and federal agencies must work together to make wise decisions about land use. While some Utah land should be preserved for future generations, other land might be better used for multiple purposes, she said. " - Hint : "wise use" tends to code for logging, mining, and similar types of land use.

You can read about it in "Public Land, Private Profit : The Corporate Way of Wisdom" ( FreeMarket Press, Denver, 2002 )
posted by troutfishing at 9:23 PM on June 25, 2004

Putting this in perspective: about 1000 years ago, Chaco Canyon, NM, was like Chicago is today, a huge center of trade stretching from New England to South America. Think of it regionally as the hub of a wheel, with a site like this on the NW spoke. South is the Toltec empire, further south, enticing hints of huge populations. East are the Mississippi River kingdoms or groupings, perhaps the giant territories of ethnically Sioux, Cherokee or Iroquoian peoples. Loosely-knit tribes throughout the east coast--seemingly disorganized, but able to muster huge conflicts against each other at times.
And yet, only small fragments remain of this, a little discarded trash that has survived on the periphery of what must have been magnificent.
posted by kablam at 8:14 AM on June 26, 2004

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