Not-so-bland treasure found in Southern Utah by Weber State students

Local News

Students and staff from Weber State University, Brigham Young University and New Mexico State University excavate an Ancestral Puebloan homestead site during Archeological Field School in Southeastern Utah on July 15, 2021. (WSU)

BLANDING, Utah (ABC4) – A group of Utah students has discovered some treasure at an archaeological site in the southeastern part of the state.

Weber State University says a group of its students is spending part of the summer exploring Coal Bed Village, an ancestral Puebloan habitation center in San Juan County.

As part of WSU’s Study Abroad program, students are being guided through excavation and analysis of the site by instructors.

According to WSU, student groups have been mapping the prehistoric community 10 miles east of Blanding that was occupied about 1,000 years ago. This summer, the group is working to excavate a ceremonial underground room, known as a kiva.

Thousands of artifacts have been recovered from the site, WSU explains, including pot shards, stone tools, and animal bones.

“Southeast Utah is a beautiful location with thousands of years of prehistory,” says David Yoder, WSU anthropology professor, who has excavated more than 40 sites throughout Utah. “The area has a high density of unique and amazing archaeological sites. This trip is a great opportunity to train and educate students in archaeological field techniques while performing excavation and research.”

For the last three years, students have been working to clear this kiva, digging through sand and rock to uncover the room. Everything they find is recorded and measurements are taken.

WSU explains that once students uncover as much as possible and record it, the site will be backfilled to preserve the area.

“So much can be lost in the past, so it’s important to document these places while we still can,” says Shawn McGrath, an anthropology major with an emphasis in archaeology. “Every little bit we discover helps contribute to the bigger story. It pulls everything together and helps us understand what these ancient cultures were like.”

Faculty and students from Brigham Young University and the University of New Mexico have joined the WSU group in the excavation process.

This is the first year the trip is being offered as part of the Study Abroad program, according to WSU.

For more from WSU, visit their website.

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