Friday, December 18, 2009

Discover the ancient puebloans at the Lost City Museum

Long before Howard Hughes and Bugsy Siegel, before sevens were rolled out on felt covered tables, Native Nevadans were casting dice of bones onto the clay floors of village pueblos. We call these prehistoric Nevada residents the Anasazi, or Native Puebloans. From about A.D. 500 they lived along what was then a verdant valley, with flowing rivers, bubbling springs, fertile soil and abundant wildlife. They raised cotton and corn, mined salt and dug for turquoise and were spread out in strings of villages from Warm Springs to the Virgin River.

Decorated pottery and other artifacts found in archaeological digs have shown that they had a developed social, religious, and trade structure. Mysteriously, they disappeared from the area about A.D. 1150.

The Lost City Museum, in Overton about 60 miles northeast of Las Vegas, has several wattle and daub style houses that have been reconstructed on the original pueblo foundations. The museum has one of the most comprehensive collections of the many cultures that lived in the valley starting with the hunters and gatherers of nearly 10,000 years ago. Their lifestyle of hunting mammoths and giant ground sloths was somewhat more adventurous than the Basketmakers that followed and inhabited the area until about A.D. 500 when the Pueblans moved in. The Paiutes, well adapted to the desert climate in their hunter/gatherer culture, followed about A.D. 1000 and still have descendants living in Southern Nevada.

Petroglyphs, carved into the rocks, are scattered all around the Lost City area and many Southern Nevada ruins still lay hidden or un-excavated. The Lost City Museum, located on an actual prehistoric site of Ancestral Puebloan Indians who first populated southern Nevada, is a good place to learn about these early cultures.

From Las Vegas, drive 48 miles northeast on US 15 and turn right (southeast) on state route 169 for twelve miles. The museum is open every day from 8:30 AM until 4:30 PM Thursday thru Sunday and has parking sufficient for large RVs. Camping is available at nearby Valley of Fire State Park, at Overton Beach on Lake Mead, and at private RV parks in Overton.

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