13 October 2008

Ancient Use of Zuni Cave

Originally Drafted 08 October 2008

Preparing to set traps for invertebrates in Zuni Cave. Credit: Kyle Voyles/ NPS.

Possible Anasazi marker stone. It was located at the second entrance of Zuni Cave. We found one of these at the entrance of Roots Cave last year.

Today, we set traps at Zuni Cave. This cave was most impressive. While the extent of biodiversity within this cave remains to be seen, it determined this cave was used extensively by ancient Americans. This cave contained several dry-laid stone walls near each entrance/ skylight. There was a sandstone marker stone at one of the skylight entrances, and there was significant deposition of pottery, stone material (from tool making), a couple of hammer stones, and a metate. All of this suggests this cave was used extensively.

Kyle using a slave flash technique to illuminate a larger extent of the cave. Credit: Kyle Voyles/NPS.

The hike into this area is most impressive. You traverse vast expanses of lava flow; the basalt is loose, rocky and undulating. It is quite easy to lose your footing on this type of material.

In a packrat midden, we found pottery sherds and a corn cobb.

On our return to the truck, our traverse across the Malpais offers spectacular views of Mount Taylor. This is one of my favorite mountains in the southwest. With the exception of last year, I have competed in the Mount Taylor Quadathlon. Viewing this majestic mountain from a far stirs my desires to tackle the mountain in February. I definitely plan on doing it again!

View of Mount Taylor from trail to Zuni Cave.

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