Land that now belongs to the Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona may have been the site of bustling communities around 1,300 years ago.
Archaeologists working in the park have unearthed a second ancient village less than a kilometer away from one that was discovered last summer, The Christian Science Monitor reported. The newfound village, which was discovered in July, may have contained up to 75 individual homes inhabited by ancient Pueblo peoples.
“Finding smaller sites is pretty common but to find these larger sites with 50 to 75 structures is more unique,” park archaeologist Bill Reitze told the Monitor. “That’s what makes it interesting and there are some really interesting things to learn.”
Those housing structures suggest that 100 to 125 people lived in the village at any one time, USA Today reported.
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This small, slab-lined bin was unearthed at the village site. (Notice the scale, with one-centimeter increments). Scientists are not sure what it was used for, but it may have been an agricultural feature.
Researchers also found weathered sandstone artifacts, stone tools, shell ornaments, and ceramics.
"They are primarily stone tools like spear points and scrapers that are made out of the local petrified wood," Reitze told USA Today. "There's also some shell that's used to make ornaments and early pottery."
One of the artifacts found at the sites.
The villages were found on land acquired as part of the park's expansion under the Petrified Forest National Park Expansion Act of 2004, according to ABC News.
"There are not a lot of national parks that have the opportunity to get bigger like this to protect sites and produce future research," Reitze told ABC News. "A lot of archaeology happens in response to development. What makes this unique is new sites are discovered, research [is] being done and all these sites are being protected, all at once."