Sunday, December 16, 2007

Not a single beep from the metal detector

We'd been told there might be the remnants of an old ranch and some houses atop a mesa near Livingston, Arizona. Livingston was a small town that existed between 1896 and 1907. We've fully explored the old Livingston site, finding very few remains, so we were interested in finding more information if possible about this now bygone town.
We headed out this morning, armed with the metal detector, digging implements and enthusiasm.
It was a nice hike, the temperature was perfect, staying right around 50ยบ with full sunshine. We headed up a muddy wash to a mesa where we thought might be a promising place to begin our search. As we climbed up out of the wash, we noticed the ground was littered with rocks, of every kind imaginable. Seeing rocks isn't unusual, but something about these just didn't look natural. There were clearings, then piles of rock and then whole areas devoid of any rocks at all. The land was pristine, no signs of modern man anywhere.  We came to an area where the rocks had been laid out in patterns, squares, circles, and rectangles. We thought at first these might be the foundations left from the old home sites we were looking for, so we began metal detecting the area. Usually, as we sweep an area, we'll come across, a nail, a piece of wire, a bottle cap, something left behind, but this time, the detector showed nothing at all, unusual for a site where recent man once occupied the space.  As we continued looking, we noticed a white shape sticking up out of the soil. It turned out to be a piece of Indian pottery, you can still see the design painted on it. We decided to check further and eventually we came across a bronze marker, "Arizona State University, Archaeological, Datum 12, 1990." We'd stumbled upon an archaeological dig. The stones laid out in squares, circles and rectangles were the remains of Ancient Indian dwellings and the site had been examined and recorded by A.S.U in 1990.  We're not sure who the Indians were, probably Salado or Anasazi, farming tribes who inhabited the area 700 to 1000 years ago.
We went further up into the mountains and found several areas where we could make out the remains of an old mule trail, leading to various diggings, probably an old prospector had come along to see if there was any gold in the area. We didn't find the old ranch or houses we were looking for, but it was rewarding to find the Indian ruins. I'm sure we'll head back to the area to search further, there's no end to the discoveries we can make.