An old pot is creating some new excitement in Emery County. On Dec. 18, several archeologists, geologists, and paleontologists, many from the College of Eastern Utah Museum, or from the US Forest Service, volunteers from the Castle Valley Archeology Society and others gathered at the Ferron Manti-LaSal National Forest Service Building prior to setting out to recover a piece of Indian pottery in the mountains of the Manti-LaSal Forest.
The Division of Natural Resources sent two law enforcement officers to accompany the expedition. These officers led the way through the snow and brush to the cave high up on a rocky hillside.
The cave and the pottery were found by Casey Mickelsen of Ferron while hunting in the Manti-LaSal National Forest. Mickelsen reported he was looking through binoculars at a hill across a narrow valley when he saw a small cave on the hill side and in the cave was something round. He investigated and discovered that the object was a round, gray open top pot filled with dirt and sheltered by the cave. Mickelsen used stones to seal up the entrance to the cave. This made it less visible and protected the object in the cave. After doing this he reported the find to the US Forest Service.
Charmaine Thompson US Forest Service Archeologist wants everyone to know that Mickleson did everything correctly by protecting the pottery and reporting the find. Thompson said there are more than 5,000 archeological sites in the Manti-LaSal Forest where artifacts had been found. This location or site was GPS recorded and assigned a number by Dr. Renee Barlow.
Dr. Barlow, archaeologist from the Prehistoric Museum in Price was thrilled and excited because she was going to have the opportunity to excavate a possibly unbroken piece of Indian pottery and not just shards of broken pottery. She hoped that it would not be cracked or broken in any way.
Dr. Barlow explained as they were removing the rocks in front of the cave that this pot would first be put in a display case at the CEU Prehistoric Museum in Price so they could tell the story behind the pot. Then this display will at some future date be moved to the San Rafael Museum in Castle Dale.
Several photographs were taken of the entrance to the small cave and the pot in the cave before it was removed. A copy of a palenotology measurement scale was also photographed beside the pot prior to taking the pot from where it stood.
Thompson and Marvin Evans assisted Dr. Barlow to gently remove the pot from the cave. Thompson said the pot being round made it better for heating the contents in a fire and for circulating the contents in the pot. But this type of pot is useless for sitting on flat surfaces.
Usually the pot is rested on some kind of padding.
Dr. Barlow was quite excited, because there did not appear to be any cracks in the pot. The top edge of the pot was slightly eroded she reported. Dr. Barlow expects to test the clay of the pot to determine authenticity and which culture made the pot, possibly Fremont or Anasazi Indians. If she finds salt in the clay, this pot could have been made locally.
Dr. Barlow commented that the pot appeared to be resting on a mat and would attempt to recover that later. As she was moving the pot from the cave into the light she excitedly exclaimed, "Oh my gosh look at that design, it is beautiful and perfect, look at those markings.
"The design might be Fremont as they sometimes copied Anasazi designs. It looks Anasazi in the design, you can see the tight little scrolls typical of the Anasazi," Dr. Barlow commented.
Dr Barlow said they would keep the contents of the pot in the pot for later examination. After the pot was removed from the cave, Dr. Barlow gently held the gray and black pot up so all could see it. She rotated the little six-eight inch diameter gray and black pot so that it could be seen from all sides. The pot handle had some straight markings. The bottom of the pot appeared to be fire blackened.
To preserve the pottery and the contents for safe transport, the pot was put into a plastic bag and then surrounded by foam rubber and installed in a card board box. The box was then sealed up with tape.
Tom Lloyd the District Geologist in Ferron/Price US Forest Ranger District and Dale Harber the US Forest Service Geologist carried the box containing the pot down the mountainside to the waiting van, and was soon on its way to the CEU Prehistoric Museum in Price.
Rosann Fillmore US Forest Service Public Affairs Officer said a press release would be issued after the object was taken to the CEU Prehistoric Museum for further examination.