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On March 1, 2018 The Archaeological Conservancy acquired the Dein Ruin near Aztec, New Mexico. This significant early twelfth-century archaeological site sits on a rocky terrace overlooking Aztec Ruins National Monument. Experts believe that Dein was part of an important ceremonial center in the larger Chaco Canyon system.

Long-time Conservancy members, Charley and Kim Dein, donated the twenty-six-acre site to The Archaeological Conservancy in the Fall of 2017. The couple purchased the land in the Animas Valley in 1978. They were aware the property contained cultural resources because an early U.S. Geological Survey topographical map had a symbol for “ruins” on their land. They retained ownership of the property even after relocating to Houston, including the portion containing the site.

In 1987, the National Park Service sponsored the Aztec Reconnaissance Project, an archaeological survey of the area in the immediate vicinity of Aztec Ruins that included the Dein parcel. The survey indicated the Dein Ruin includes a masonry great house, two great kivas, earthen berms, and several Chaco road segments. A square, block-style, great house contained an estimated thirty to forty rooms and may have stood two-stories high. The site contains some of the deepest, most culturally rich material identified in the survey area. Based on the site’s layout and culturally-modified landscape, its distinctive Chacoan characteristics, and lack of typical domestic trash middens, researchers think that the Dein Ruin served a special function within the Aztec community.

Beautiful Green groundstone lays among the building cobbles on the surface of the Dein Ruin Site.

Beautiful Green groundstone lays among the building cobbles on the surface of the Dein Ruin Site.

Despite past vandalism and more recent disturbance from residential development, the site contains tremendous research potential and significance as a Chacoan outlier. Neighbors will be encouraged to participate in the NM Sitewatch training program to become volunteer site stewards. The site will be available to schools and other interested groups for tours and other educational events, and to native groups for religious and traditional uses. Jim Walker, the Conservancy’s Vice-President and Southwestern Regional Director, stated, “We are very happy that the Dein family decided to permanently protect this important site. Much of the prehistoric Chacoan community outside of the Aztec National Monument boundaries is on private land. Preserving these privately-owned elements of Aztec are vitally important to our ultimate understanding of the culture and how Chacoan communities across the Southwest interacted.”

Preservation of the Dein site will contribute to public knowledge about the site’s significance and the importance of cultural resource preservation. The preserve will be used as open space and protected against any future development, preserving the site for posterity. The Farmington Times reported on this acquisition on March 5, 2018: Chacoan-era ruins site donated to nonprofit.

Jim Walker, Southwest Regional Director, discusses the Dein ruin for a new video.
Jim Walker, Southwest Regional Director, discusses the Dein ruin for a new video featuring the site.
The TAC team prepares for a video featuring the Dein site.
The TAC team prepares for a video featuring the Dein site.
Jim Walker, Southwest Regional Director, stands in what archaeologist suspect is one of two large great kivas on the site.
Jim Walker, Southwest Regional Director, stands in what archaeologist suspect is one of two large great kivas on the site.