Almost like Indiana Jones...
The head gear modern archaeologists wear may be different, and much more protective than the fedora that Indiana Jones wore in his movies, but they are after much the same thing: discovering artifacts and antiquities. And those professionals that work in eastern Utah often had to wear that gear to get to where they want to go.
Range Creek has been a fascinating place every since it came into the public eye a few years ago. Protected from the outside world for over 50 years by rancher Waldo Wilcox, the international media descended upon it when it was announced that literally thousands of archaeological sites were present in the canyon, most of them undisturbed by humans since they were laid down by those that built them.
Before and since that publicity, archaeologists from a number of places have found themselves examining and exploring the canyon, looking for sites and possible finds that could tell the story of the ancient inhabitants.
In 2006 the discovery of a flute of undetermined age by Division of Wildlife Officer Alan Green set off even more activity in the area. In fact in the rock face just a little way away from the flute another significant find was discovered. "I walked along the edge of the cliff and found this granary," said Mark Connolly, another DWR officer. "I thought Alan had ventured over there, but he hadn't. It was so steep, tricky and narrow that I wouldn't have gone there without equipment if I had known he hadn't been there."
But this wasn't just any granary; it produced some finds that were not as significant as the flute, but still valuable.
"We found a number of items in the granary when we explored it," said Renee Barlow, the archaeologist at the College of Eastern Utah Prehistoric Museum. "The granary still was together with about 10 timbers measuring 4-6 inches each. Inside we found a hand carved wooden shovel and a digging stick. We also found some maize cobbs as well."
Barlow pointed out that the digging stick could have been a handle to a tool, but that nothing has been established for sure.
"We may never know exactly what it was," she noted.
The trip to recover the items was a careful one walking along a steep cliff edge, and angling up uneven rock to the granary.
But for Barlow and her colleagues, it was just in a days work.
"I have done this and some roping into granaries, but I take it very, very slow," stated Barlow.
That artifacts that were found are now in the college collection and are being preserved and protected.