Life among the ruins

  • Anasazi Estates Cartoon

    Diane Sylvain
  A subdivision in southwestern Colorado encourages buyers to build homes closely around the ruins of ancient Anasazi dwellings. California developer Archie Hanson bought 1,200 acres of the archaeologically rich land after visiting the area just six miles east of Mesa Verde National Park, near Cortez, Colo. Now he's offering 31 "Indian Camp" lots of about 35 acres each for as much as $200,000, AP reports. "Ultimately, they're trying to do the right thing," says LouAnn Jacobson, director of the Anasazi Heritage Center. Hanson says the covenants he has adopted to protect the abundance of 700-year-old artifacts require archaeologists to survey sites before any building begins, and any artifacts found must not be sold. When a landowner dies, all artifacts revert to a museum planned for the subdivision. Hanson says 210 prehistoric settlements are documented on the property already, and most lots have at least one subterranean, ceremonial kiva. "It's on private land so we have no jurisdiction," says Kathryn Bulinski, a land specialist with the San Juan Bureau of Land Management, "but at least they're conserving and preserving (the ruins) reputably." She says property owners in the area often sell their land to pothunters for inflated prices. The Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, however, has reservations about the subdivision. "If anybody disturbed my bones," says chairperson Judy Knight-Frank, "I'd haunt them."


* Ross Freeman