ST. GEORGE — While hiking on the Arizona Strip in January, Colorado resident Randy Langstraat discovered a prehistoric artifact in a popular recreation area.
Concerned that the small, intact pot was within casual view in a frequently visited area, Langstraat carefully concealed the pot in place and contacted Bureau of Land Management archaeologist Sarah Page, who is based in the BLM’s Arizona Strip district.
Langstraat provided Page with a detailed description of the location of the pot, and in February, Page visited the reported site along with another BLM Arizona Strip archaeologist and law enforcement officers. The group found that the pot had not been disturbed and was in near-perfect condition.
After locating the intact pot, Page began a full documentation process of the site, and along with another agency archaeologist, conducted an intensive archaeological survey to determine if additional artifacts were present. No other artifacts were found in the area.
The archaeologists believe the pot was left in the location by the pot’s creator with the intent to collect it later but never recovered it.
A detailed analysis was conducted by archaeologist David Van Alfen, who determined the pot to be North Creek Corrugated, which dates to the Late Pueblo II period (A.D. 1050-1250) of the Virgin Branch of the Ancestral Puebloan culture. The effigy handle appears to be that of an animal, possibly a deer or bighorn sheep, though the ears or horns have been broken off, making it difficult to determine precisely.
According to a BLM news release about the find, precious resources like the prehistoric North Creek Corrugated pot aid scientists in their study of earlier occupants. In addition, losses of these resources deny present and future generations the ability to enjoy the privilege of learning from and observing the site in its original state.
BLM Arizona manages some of the most significant and best-preserved prehistoric and historic archaeological sites in the American Southwest, sites that are important to understanding both recorded history and prehistory.
On the Arizona Strip, the diverse human stories etched on the landscapes include everything from Little Black Mountain and Nampaweap Petroglyphs, to historic sites such as the Mt. Trumbull Schoolhouse, Grand Gulch Mine and Dominguez-Escalante Trail. More than 750,000 acres of Arizona public lands have been inventoried for cultural resources and nearly 11,000 sites have been recorded.
BLM law enforcement rangers, special agents and archaeologists work closely together to monitor and protect more than 150,000 prehistoric and historic sites on public lands across the country. These resources represent a priceless heritage in need of preservation for the enjoyment of present and future generations.
In 1976, through the enactment of the Federal Land Policy and Management Act, Congress recognized the need for BLM law enforcement officers to provide for public safety and to help protect the nation’s public land resources. The BLM’s law enforcement program is responsible for protecting resources across the nation’s 245 million acres of BLM-managed public land, which it does in partnership with state and local law enforcement agencies.
“While the BLM is tasked to protect these resources, we need everyone’s help to do so,” Page said. “Mr. Langstraat did the right thing by reporting the discovery of the pot to the BLM and by leaving it in place. Just like Mr. Langstraat, everyone can help to protect our nation’s fascinating past. We hope that others will follow his example and respect our past.”
To help protect public lands and natural resources, crimes like vandalism, dumping and other suspicious activities may be reported by calling the toll-free tip line 1-800-637-9152 anytime. Visit the Tread Lightly website to learn more about how to respect and protect the nation’s priceless natural resources.
BLM officials said they plan to place the pot discovered by Langstraat in the display cases in the BLM visitor center located at 345 East Riverside Drive, St George. By preserving and displaying this pot in a public setting, everyone can share in the history of the Arizona Strip.
The visitor center display cases also currently have additional artifacts discovered on the Arizona Strip and immediate areas that have been recovered during professional archaeological excavations and surveys. Others were confiscated from individuals who illegally took these artifacts, or donated to the BLM from individuals who had these artifacts in a personal collection, sometimes handed down from their parents or grandparents.
The displays provide the public with amazing artifacts to look at, and provide present and future generations with a better understanding of the vast and diverse history of public lands.