When last summer's fires scorched more than 4,700 acres in Colorado's Mesa Verde National Park, one of the park's rare petroglyph panels, Battleship Rock, was damaged beyond repair.
Vegetation surrounding the site burned so hot
that the rock's surface and its 1,000-year-old pecked designs
fractured and flaked off.
But the fire also
revealed sites park archaeologists never knew were there, said
Sarah Craighead, who is managing the rehabilitation of the park's
burned land. While surveying a small area after the fire,
archaeologists discovered 92 "new" sites that were once hidden by
dense shrubs and pines.
The sites range from
simple artifact scatters to the low sandstone ruins of pueblo-like
buildings; they probably belong to the Anasazi culture and are 700
to 1,300 years old.
Unfortunately, the exposed
sites are threatened by damaging erosion, and there's no money for
protection, restoration or even a better look at them, said
Craighead. The park will apply for federal emergency funds to
protect the cliff dwellings, she said, but for now the new sites
are on their own. - Danielle