Site said to contain 'deep, culturally rich material'


FARMINGTON — A national organization that works to preserve archaeological sites has acquired a Chacoan-era site located about a mile from Aztec Ruins National Monument.

The site, located on a rocky terrace above Aztec Ruins National Monument, was donated to the Archeological Conservancy by Charley and Kim Dein and has been named the Dein Ruin. The property transfer was completed Tuesday.

The Archaeological Conservancy is a nonprofit organization that focuses on building a national system of archaeological preserves to protect cultural resources, like ancestral Puebloan sites.

A 1980s survey as part of the Aztec Reconnaissance Project sponsored by the National Park Service indicated that the Dein Ruin includes a masonry great house, two great kivas, earthen berms and Chacoan road segments.

The square, block-style great house contained 30 to 40 rooms and may have been two stories high. Walker said Chacoan elite likely lived inside the great house.

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A press release from the Archaeological Conservancy states that the Dein Ruin contains some of the “deepest, most culturally rich material” identified by the Aztec Reconnaissance Project survey.

Jim Walker, the southwest regional director for Archaeological Conservancy, said school groups and other interested people wishing to view the site can contact the offices in Albuquerque at 505-266-1540 to arrange to meet with site stewards to tour the area.

“There was a large population of Chacoan people that lived in the Animas Valley around what was connected to the park,” Walker said.

While the great house and kivas have been identified, Walker said there could also be other structures and features that have not yet been documented. However, the Archaeological Conservancy will not excavate or look for additional features.

Walker said the site will be preserved, but researchers can work with the conservancy to research the site.

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In the press release, the conservancy states that the Dein Ruin contains “tremendous research potential and significance as a Chacoan outlier.”

The release states that it has had some vandalism and disturbance from residential development.

The Archaeological Conservancy is looking for site stewards to help protect and preserve the Dein Ruin. People can apply at the New Mexico Historic Preservation Division SiteWatch training program.

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The Archaeological Conservancy has more than 500 preserves in 43 states throughout the United States, including 40 in New Mexico. Among those sites is the Holmes Group, located on a terrace above the La Plata River in San Juan County. The Holmes Group once had two great houses, two great kivas and two cobble masonry structures.

The conservancy also owns two other sites in the county — one near Flora Vista and the other north of Chaco Culture National Historical Park.

In the past, the Archaeological Conservancy has donated preserves to be incorporated into National Park Service properties, including into Chaco Culture National Historical Park.

Walker said there are no plans to donate the Dein Ruin to Aztec Ruins National Monument.

Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 or via email at


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