Displaying items by tag: Wupatki National Monument
Friday, 18 September 2020 14:59

Archaeologist For a Day

Hi everyone,

I hope everyone has been safe and is doing well. The days have been going by so fast and I can’t believe my internship is almost over. I have been loving working here at Wupatki and getting to see what everyone does. One of the interesting things about working here is understanding how the Flagstaff National Monuments have preserved ruins over time. I had the opportunity to work with the archeological team a couple of times to see the work they do and everything that goes into preservation.

My first day I worked at East Mesa where the preservation worked mainly involved stabilizing the walls and removing invasive plants. The other two days I worked at the Wukoki pueblo, where we focused on stabilizing walls with mortar and monitoring the condition of the pueblo structure.


Fig. 1: A wall of one of the ruins in East Mesa. There is hardly any mortar, but we stabilized it as best as we could.


When I was at Wukoki, I learned more about what goes into the mortar and how preserving the pueblos at Wupatki has changed over the years. The National Park Service initially reinforced the pueblo partially in the 1940s by installing wood braces and wedges. Cement and mud mortar were also used to stabilize the walls. By the mid 1950s, more stabilization was required, so workers used Portland Cement covered with clay mortar was used the stabilize the walls. They also braced the walls internally by reinforcing it with flat steel bars. This definitely worked for a long time. The mortar was very strong and holds up well, but it’s actually TOO strong. Because the mortar is strong, it resists erosion. This can be problematic because air and water will start to erode the sandstone blocks instead of the mortar. This means that over time, the sandstone that is the building itself will start to deteriorate well before than what should be expected.


Fig. 2: A wall in Wukoki that I worked on. In between the sandstone blocks is fresh mortar that I put down to stabilize the walls.


Current preservation involves creating mortar that uses sand, locally sourced red clay, and a gluing agent. This is as close to what mortar the Native Americans used 900 years ago when they were occupying the area. The mortar is more natural now and will be more preferential to eroding than the sandstone. Preservation is always a continuous process. Since Wupatki receives many visitors every day, the archeology team has to put down new mortar about every 4 years. This was a really exciting experience I got to take part in, and I gained a new insight on how much work it takes to preserve the ruins of Wupatki.

Published in EFTA intern blog
Thursday, 03 September 2020 16:00

Lizards of Wupatki

Hi everyone,

I hope everyone is doing well. I’ve been having an amazing time working at Wupatki. One of the things I’ve loved whilst being here, is all the different wildlife. I’ve seen many different types of birds and mammals, but my favorite animals I’ve seen have been the reptiles. About twenty species of lizards and snakes live in Wupatki and Sunset Crater Volcano National Monuments, but I’m only going to show the ones that I have seen the most.  

The most common lizard of the monuments is the Side-blotched Lizard. This small dark green or grayish lizard has dark blue or black spots on each side behind the front legs. The male has a blue speckled band down its back. The Side-blotched Lizard eats Insects, ticks, and scorpions. I’ve mainly seen this lizard in the front of the visitor center of Wupatki and on my walks back to my apartment.

Image of Side-blotched Lizard


My favorite lizard here at the monument is the large bright green lizard often seen around the ruins and on rocks, particularly near Lomaki Pueblo, is the Collared Lizard. The major distinguishing feature is the double black collar around its neck. Sometimes the Collared Lizard can be seen running on its two long hind legs. Medium-sized lizards, snakes, flowers, leaves, and insects are all a part of the Collared Lizard's diet.

Image of Collared Lizard


The last lizard I wanted to share is the Desert Spiny Lizard. This lizard has a stout spiny body with a black wedge on each shoulder. It has a tendency to bob up and down when its territory is disturbed. If you were to pet the lizard going from the tail to the head, it would be super painful.


Image of Desert Spiny Lizard


The last animal I want to talk about is a rattlesnake. I actually came across it when I was going to East Mesa a couple of weeks ago, and it was on the side of the road. Sadly, it was dead because it had gotten hit. This is the only time I’ve seen a snake at Wupatki, but I know there are a couple of different holes where snakes live near the Wupatki pueblo. I was still excited to see it because I’ve never had the opportunity to see a rattlesnake up close.

Image of a rattlesnake


Published in EFTA intern blog
Friday, 28 August 2020 16:09

Pottery Shards Galore

Hi everyone,

It’s been awhile since I’ve put up a blog, but a lot has happened! I wanted to share an exciting experience I had recently. One of the opportunities that Wupatki offers are guided discovery hikes. These are back country hikes that allow for visitors to see archeological sites and petroglyphs that aren’t open to the immediate public. My mentor, Cathy, took me out to East Mesa to do one of the hikes with me, so I can see more of Wupatki.


Image of Cathy leading me during our hike


The hike we went on is East Mesa, and my favorite part of this experience was seeing all the different types of pottery shards. Because Wupatki has many cultural influences, there are many varieties of pottery you can find. There are black-on-white, black-on-red, redwares, greywares, and more. Here is a picture with multiple pottery shards on the ground. Can you find them?




These are the four pottery shards that were in the picture above. Going from left to right, there is a greyware, black-on-white, and two coiled pottery shards.




I think my favorite kind I’ve seen whilst being here are the black-on-whites. I like the stark contrast that the black paint gives on the white pottery and I also like all of the different designs. Seeing the large amount of pottery here shows how vital it was to the ancestral Pueblo life. The pottery itself can share a lot about who used it, where those people got the clay, and how they used it. People used pottery for cooking, eating, storage, ceremonies, and more.


Here are some other pictures I took of different types of pottery shards!


Image of a black-on-white pottery shard



Image of a coiled pottery shard



Image of a black-on-red pottery shard


Although there aren’t any discovery hikes going on right now due to COVID-19, I hope that you all are able to visit in the future and see how amazing it is out here. I have loved working out here and learning about the culture and history that Wupatki has to offer.

Published in EFTA intern blog
Friday, 31 July 2020 17:02

Come Meet Wupatki!

As I’m finishing my third week of my internship, I have learned a lot about Wupatki and everything it has to offer. I’ve spent a lot of time roaming the trails by myself to get acquainted with everything, so that I’ll be ready to answer any visitor’s question at any moment! I thought this would be a great time to summarize the main pueblos I've learned about since I've been here, and hopefully it will convince you to visit if you're ever in Northern Arizona.


Lomaki and Box Canyon 

This pueblo is located by the rim of an earthcrack. This open area is known as the plaza, which was the center for many daily activities such as grinding corn, making pottery, and making food. There are also two limestone dwellings built on the edge of a small canyon as you walk your way towards Lomaki. I really enjoy this area because it’s a popular spot for Eastern-Collared Lizards.



Entrance to the Lomaki Pueblo with the earthcrack in the background.


Limestone cliff dwelling located on the Lomaki Trail.




The Citadel trail takes you to the top of a 50-room pueblo that was built on a cinder hill. I think the Citadel is super beautiful because the red sandstone structure contrasts with the basalt that is at the base of it. At the base of the hill is Nalakihu, which is a smaller sandstone structure. This is probably the steepest hike, but it’s worth it to get to the top to see the view of the San Francisco peaks and the large limestone sink that’s behind the pueblo.


The outside of the Citadel.


The limestone sink behind the Citadel. Overlying basalt fell through the sink. 




Wukoki is my favorite trail because the trail goes around and into a three-story sandstone tower. Wukoki means “Big House” and was once home for two or three Native American families. This pueblo was built on top of a large sandstone outcrop and can be seen from Wupatki if you look for it. When you walk through Wukoki you’re able to walk through three different rooms



The Wukoki ruin on top of a sandstone outcrop.


Inside of one of the rooms at Wukoki. The left door leads to a closed room with high walls, and the right room leads to an open area of Wukoki.




This is the pueblo that the monument is named after, and it isn’t hard to see why. Wupatki was first inhabited around 500 AD. Wupatki, which means "Tall House" in the Hopi language, is a multistory Sinagua pueblo dwelling comprising over 100 rooms and a community room and the northernmost ballcourt ever discovered in North America, creating the largest building site for nearly 50 miles.


This is the oval shaped ball court that's next to the ruin. 


This is the view of Wupatki from the overlook.


If you're ever in the Flagstaff area, I would definitely recommend stopping by to learn more about the area and the rich culture that was built here on these lands. 



Published in EFTA intern blog
Friday, 17 July 2020 12:55

New Beginnings in New Places

Hello everyone,

Let me start by introducing myself. I'm Raeann; I love books, hiking, animals, and all things related to rocks (geologists can't help themselves). As I’m writing this, I have completed my first week at Wupatki National Monument. It was a 16-hour drive that I took over two days. On the way here I was pretty nervous because I was initially supposed to go to Florissant Fossil Beds and then everything changed. I wasn’t sure what was planned for me besides being an outreach assistant, but once I arrived all of my nerves settled!

The past couple of days have been me getting used to Wupatki and the nearby parks, Sunset Crater and Walnut Canyon. Very quickly, I have fell in love with this area and all of the history that it contains. With the climate we are in, I think it’s very important to understand what who was here before us and to respect the communities they built. I’ve loved hiking all of the trails and seeing all of the ancient pueblos and cinder cones in the area, and I can’t wait to bring it to others.



Image 1: Walking into Wukoki (my favorite pueblo in Wupatki

Image 2: An Eastern Collared Lizard (a new found love of mine) 


The most difficult part so far is the lack of cell service and internet. On one hand, there is so much going on in the world that it’s nice to take a break from it all, but on the other it’s been hard communicating with my family and LHIP. This isn’t stopping me though! I've been taking lots of photos of everything I'm seeing and I can't wait to share more in the blogs to come!



Image 3: A good ole' selfie at Wukoki (I really loved this place) please note the one orange cone in the background

Image 4: My being silly at the blow hole (It was the first thing I did when I got to Wupatki and it was very refreshing)


I’m in the beginnings of contacting Latino focused groups, and I’m hopeful that I will be able to help bring more Hispanic audiences to Wupatki. I hope to create new ideas for future events and opportunities that will last even once I’m done here.

I hope you’re all well! 


Published in EFTA intern blog
Friday, 24 April 2020 00:05

RaeAnn Garcia

In May 2020, I will receive my Master’s degree in geoscience from Auburn University. I am currently studying the geochemistry and geochronology of a gold and silver epithermal deposits in Silver City, Idaho. I previously received my B.S. in Geology at the University of Texas at Austin, where I did research on the microstratigraphy of MVT deposits in Tennessee. I am very excited to be a part of this internship program because ever since middle school I have been very passionate about increasing the diversity and inclusivity in STEM and I feel like this opportunity allows me to help with this. I’m also enthusiastic to share my knowledge and love of geology to audiences who may not know anything about the subject. I also am happy to have found an entryway into getting experience with the National Park Services and building my professional network. This internship directly helps with where I want to end up professionally. Ideally, I would like to work in an environment where I am broadening someone’s perspective of the Earth and geoscience however that may be. I also want to be in a position where I am able to lead and create opportunities for underrepresented communities to engage with geosciences. Some jobs that interest me are working for the National Park Service, museums, and/or outreach/STEM coordination jobs.


Published in Intern Bios