|Subj:||IUFO: ANCIENT CHAMBERS SPAN ACROSS BENEATH NORTHERN ARIZONA|
|Date:||3/21/01 3:32:32 AM Pacific Standard Time|
ANCIENT CHAMBERS SPAN ACROSS BENEATH NORTHERN
ARIZONA DAILY SUN
Saturday, April 27, 1991
New Orleans (AP) -- Three young archaelogists came to Northern Arizona
and crept through sacred rooms, over rocky precipes and by dangerous
rattlesnakes to discover a huge complex of catagombs that could rewrite
theories about the Indians of the southwestern United States.
"It's absolutely mind-numbing. We would have never believed it could have
existed," John W. Hohman, one of the three archaeologists, said Friday
during the meeting of the 2,000 member Society of American Archaeology.
"It will change a lot of what we believed about Indians in the Southwest.
They may have been far more advanced than we believed."
Hohman admitted to feeling a bit like Indiana Jones, the archaeologists-
adventurer from the movies. Armed with a flashlight and a pistol, it was
Hohman who rapelled down the steep fissures, frequently dotted with
rattlesnakes sunning themselves on rocky outcrops, into the catacombs.
The catacombs his expedition found are the first reported in the United
States, officials at the conference said. "It's very exciting to have it
announced at this conference. It's one of the few times we can say this is a
first. Anytime you have a first in our business, it's exciting," said Dr.James
Schoenwetter, professor of anthropology at Arizona State University in
Tempe, Ariz. "The idea of a very elaborate form of ceremonial chamber
being built underground hundreds of years ago is surprising."
Indians of the southwest United States were not believed to have built
underground, Hohman said. For many of the cultures the underground held
special connotations, both good and bad, he said. Burials were also done
much as they are done now, he said, in graves dug into the earth. The
catacombs, which Hohman and colleagues say are about 700 to 800 years
old, were discovered at a known prehistoric Indian settlement about two
miles west of Springerville.
The Mongollon Indians occupied the site sometime between A.D. 1250
and 1400, Hohman said. "There had been some suspicion that there was
something underground there," Adams said, "When we actually entered the
catacombs though, it just blew us away."
Getting there wasn't easy. "Everytime I'd get halfway down one of the others
would find the entry way, Hohman said. The carefully hidden entrances to
the catacombs varied from the size of doorways to small crawl spaces.
Once inside, Hohman and his colleagues found three to four acres of
catacombs, ranging from small chambers to huge rooms 50 feet high and
100 feet long. "It's obvious that they were to protect the cattacombs," said
White. ""The average person living at the site would not have had access to
the area. It was probably entered only by certain people."
Hohman, Diane E. White and Christopher D. Adams were investigating the
area for the town with an eye toward developing it as a recreation area.
Hohman expects the site to produce at least one more major find. "We
think there is something else underground there. We're working in an area
that we think will produce another major surprise," he said.
The area, but not the catacombs, is open to the public, and will be
developed into a recreational area, Hohman said. The park is expected to
be opened within two years, he said. Called Casa Malpais, the site
represents one of the largest and most complex ancient Mongollon
communities in the nation, Hohman said.
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Other features include a low intermittent wall surrounding the site, three ancient stairways, shrines, rock art, solar markers, and of course the caves. Although entrance to the caves is not permitted you may come and explore these other features.