Skip to main content

SOUTHWEST—Last year a crew from the nonprofit archaeological research and survey company Sacred Sites Research, Inc. conducted an archaeological survey of four tracts within the Sunset Ranch subdivision that the Conservancy had recently acquired in west Texas.

The crew examined over 307 acres to learn what kinds of archaeological resources in addition to known rock art sites exist in each tract. No previous cultural resource survey had been conducted of these areas, which are located within the larger Jornada Mogollon cultural region. The survey documented twenty-six archaeological sites, two of which had been previously recorded. Twenty-three of the sites are recommended for inclusion as Texas State Archaeological Landmarks and for the National Register of Historic Placesbased on their potential to contribute important information about the region’s history.

Colorful pictographs and impressive petroglyphs had been reported in well-preserved rockshelter settings and on sandstone boulders across the area for nearly a century. The sites recorded during the survey included residential rockshelter sites, multi-colored pictographs, prehistoric camps, and prehistoric and historic aboriginal lithic artifact quarry and processing sites. One of the rock shelters contained Guadalupe Linear Style paintings rendered in black pigment. If the pigment was made from charcoal, it’s possible that it could be radiocarbon dated.

The Conservancy is using the survey results to apply to the Texas Historical Commission for State Antiquities Land-mark status for the four parcels. “We are very grateful for the significant contributions of time and talent made by Sacred Sites Research, Inc. to document the significance of this irreplaceable archaeological landscape,” said Jim Walker, the Conservancy’s Southwest Regional Director.