parametrix inspired people blog

Camping in Navajo Country: Parametrix Archaeologists Search for Prehistoric Sites

Ethan Kalosky | 6-15-2018

Co-authored by Greg Mastropietro, Archaeologist 

In early May 2018, Parametrix undertook a cultural resources survey along Bread Springs Road in western New Mexico, approximately 7 miles south of Gallup, NM. Bread Springs Road services a rural Navajo community of about 2,000 people. Parametrix was contracted by DePauli Engineering to provide cultural resources clearance in advance of a 5.5-mile roadway improvement project. Currently, the road is narrow and unstriped, has deteriorated asphalt, substandard vertical and horizontal curves, and experiences a relatively high traffic volume that travels at a high speed. The roadway will be reconstructed to improve safety for its many rural users.

The project is situated between the Four Corners region and Chaco Canyon. Both of these areas witnessed significant prehistoric cultural developments on a scale virtually unparalleled elsewhere in the United States. We therefore expected to encounter an abundance of prehistoric archaeological sites. Additionally, since the project is in Navajo country, we expected to encounter Navajo cultural resources, such as petroglyphs, sheep corrals, hogans, and home sites.

The roadway extends through the Bread Springs Wash valley, which is a northwest-trending drainage marked by a wide, meandering, 50-foot-deep wash. The terrain was rugged and required us to scale landforms hundreds of feet in elevation, as well as flat canyon bottoms dissected by erosional washes 20 to 30 feet in depth.