|28 August 2013
Prehistoric meteorite 'shrines' in Arizona may be linked
Two 12th-century CE settlements a hundred kilometres apart in Arizona (USA) have at least one trait in common: a hidden, hollow compartment that once held fragments of a 50,000-year-old meteorite.
"The sites themselves are not necessarily linked, but the practice is linked," says Ken Zoll, a researcher in archaeo-astronomy and executive director of the Verde Valley Archaeological Center in Camp Verde, Arizona.
Unlike the older pit-houses and small masonry structures found elsewhere, the first of the two sites was an arrangement of pueblo-style rooms that formed a near-perfect square, about 61 meters on each side. Inside its eastern wall was a stone-lined cist, that held a bundle wrapped in an ornate blanket made of turkey feathers. Inside was a 61-kilogram meteorite. "The fact that it was wrapped in a feathered turkey blanket adds to the significance," observed Zoll. "It takes over a year to make."
While most residences were built in phases as communities grew, the public square seemed to have been built all at once, suggesting that it was made for a singular function.
At the second site, some 115 kilometres to the north, a square stone cist was found just below the surface. Under the lid was 24 kilos of iron meteorite - the largest single specimen of rocky-metallic, partially melted meteorites. Analyses of both meteorites performed decades later found them to be identical.
Much of northern Arizona is "strewn with all kinds of different sizes and shapes of meteorites," Zoll added - detritus from the giant meteorite strike that formed Meteor Crater some 50,000 years ago. Zoll discusses the two sites in a book to be published this fall, "Ancient Astronomy of Central Arizona". His aim is to "for other archaeo-astronomers to look for these things. There could be a lot more that we just don't know about."
Edited from Western Digs (August 2013)
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