Tag Archives: Elden pueblo

123rf.com: Kirill Cherezov

NAU archaeologists document historic sites with 3D technology

Imagine being able to look at a historical site from every angle, measure the smallest details on the interior and identify how to preserve it without ever touching it.

Photogrammetry technology combines hundreds of overlapping high resolution images taken with a digital camera mounted on a pole to create a 3D color virtual model of a site. For an archaeologist, this is the future of documentation and a low cost alternative to laser technology such as LiDAR.

“This is a tremendous increase over our previous efficiency in mapping archaeological sites,” said Chris Downum, an NAU professor who began using photogrammetry last year.

“What this technology allows us to do is be better stewards in preserving these places for the future,” Downum said. “We want to document them in as close to their original condition as we can and then use that as a reference point for any further preservation or stabilization.”

Downum and his team of students have been documenting sites all over the northern Arizona region, which he said is one of the densest concentrations of archaeological sites anywhere in the world.

“We’ve been able to help our students prepare for careers in archaeology and get them equipped with the skills and the technological basis that they’re going to need to work in the 21st century,” Downum explained.

Chris Francis, an archaeology master’s student at NAU, spent his summer interning with the Coconino National Forest to create a 3D model of the Community Room at Elden Pueblo, an ancient Sinagua village located in north Flagstaff off of U.S. Highway 89.

“These places have been around for hundreds of years and we want to see them stay around for another hundred years,” Francis said. “This really allows us to go in and make precise measurements without being intrusive.”

Downum explained the importance of these sites to several of the region’s Native American tribes who he works closely with during the stabilization process. He said Elden Pueblo specifically is very important to the Hopi and believed to be part of the footprints of their ancestors.

Downum’s students also are working on a virtual museum with the National Park Service and the Museum of Northern Arizona that houses 3D models of sites and artifacts. He said the students get to work on their technological skills, collaborate with professional photographers and write interpretive materials.

“This gives our students a chance to engage the public in a setting that has a worldwide audience and allows them to interpret archaeology and cultural resources in a real way,” Downum said.

centennial top 10, AZ Big Media

10 Top Discoveries In Arizona

10 Top Discoveries in Arizona

There are many mysteries about Arizona. Before it was officially established as the 48th state in 1912, and far before colonization, there was life here. Archaeologists and investigators have been discovering ancient life and civilizations across the state, telling stories about the land before it became what it is today — as well as helping us learn about our potential future. Here are 10 of the top discoveries made that have changed Arizona as well as the world that we know.


Ruins of 10 Villages Found — 1924

Byron Cummings, a professor of anthropology at University of Arizona, and his students discovered villages over 1,000 years old near Tucson. Read More >>

Hills by squeaks2569


700-Year-Old Relic Found — June 22, 1965

21-year-old Lynda Bird Johnson, President Lyndon Baines Johnson’s daughter, helped uncover remains in eastern Arizona during a two-week vacation study at the University of Arizona archaeological camp on the Fort Apache reservation. Read More >>


20,000-Year-Old Butcher Shop — 1931

The discovery of large elephant-like mammoth bones in Yuma County, hacked with flint knives, indicates that America has been inhabited for at least 20,000 years. Dr. Harold J. Cook of the Cook museum of natural history explains this and the significance to the finding. Read More >>

Columbian Mammoth by edenpictures


Hohokam Village of Pueblo Grande — 1920s

The site which can be viewed by the public at the Pueblo Grand Museum, includes an 800-year-old platform mound — where ancient buildings were constructed — and excavated prehistoric ballcourt. The central part of what is now the museum was first preserved in 1924. Read More >>


Rich Uranium Ore Found — April 7, 1950

Three new high-grade uranium minerals — which were used in building atomic bombs — were reported by the Geological Survey. The minerals were discovered by Dr. Charles A. Anderson in the Hillside Mine in Yavapai County. Read More >>

Uranium by Marcin Wichary


Columbian Mammoth Found — 2005

Now known as Tuskers, the remains of a Columbian Mammoth were discovered in a construction site when one of the workers found the first cervical membrane of the mammoth. The area located in Gilbert is now known as Discovery Park as a result. Read More >>


Dinosaur Tracks Found — 1929

It was reported to be one of the most important discoveries of dinosaur tracks, with a group of 300. They were found near Tuba City and the largest print was found to be nine inches long. Visitors are now invited to walk where these ancient reptiles did. Read More >>

Dinosaur Tracks by Dave Boyer


Winona Meteorite — 1928

This meteorite was found near the ruins of the prehistoric Elden pueblo. It was in a stone cist on the ancient burial ground, suggesting that the people of the area treated it like a living being and buried it after witnessing it fall. Read More >>


Oldest Dinosaur Found — 1985

A 200-pound, plant-eating creature’s remains were discovered in the Petrified Forest by paleontologist Robert Long. The almost-intact skeleton was 225 million years old, four million years older than any previous dinosaur fossil discovered at the time. Read More >>

Dinosaur by Ivan Walsh


Las Capas Canals — 1998-2009

Irrigation canals built as early as 1200 B.C. were discovered in the Tucson area. They are the oldest known canals north of central Mexico. This site has revealed much about ancient irrigation and agriculture. Read More >>