Monday, March 2, 2009

Desert Destination: Baker Archeological Site

Every Monday we visit a desert destination.
Not far from Great Basin National Park is the Baker Archeological Site. Located on the valley floor, it's accessible year round. The site is a Fremont culture village, occupied from approximately 1220 to 1295 AD. Brigham Young University's Office of Public Archeology, along with the BLM, excavated the site from 1991-1994.

Those visiting have a nice area for picnicking, along with barbeques, a pit toilet, and a trail to the site. The Baker Archeological Site is located along the cut-off road between the town of Baker, Nevada and Highway 50 and is marked with signs.

A short trail with markers along the way leads from the picnic and parking area to the village site.

The hike is even suitable for those with short legs.

BYU's excavation revealed a small village, with pit houses, ramadas, and adobe structures. They found evidence that the Fremonts were using the nearby land for agriculture, particularly corn, beans, and squash. Based on seeds and other evidence found in the excavation, it is thought that when the Fremont lived there,  the desert landscape probably was wetter, with wetlands nearby.

Here is an artist's interpretation of what the village looked like. It is thought that the buildings were constructed to orient with different positions of the sun to help indicate planting and harvesting times, along with other important dates.

The BYU excavation was backfilled, but in 2002 berms were built around the outlines of the buildings to help stabilize them and help visitors better visualize the site.

In the foreground is the big house, with smaller houses in the background.

The light early in the morning or late in the day make the Baker Archeological Site especially dramatic to visit. Somehow those shadows make it come more alive and easier to imagine what it was like centuries ago.

The trail markers are found in the shape of owls, due to a beautiful slate figurine found on the site in the shape of an owl. If you look in the background, you can see the outline of an owl (or bat) with two pointy ears and rounded wings on either side.

Here's a closer view of the "owl" in the mountain.

It doesn't take long to visit the Baker Archeological Site, but it's a fun stop to imagine what life was like so long ago. As it is today in the desert, water was a limiting factor. The Fremont village at this site was small, most likely due to the scarce resources available. For more information, visit the Great Basin Heritage Area website.


I Am Woody said...

What a beautiful place!!

Anonymous said...

From that picture of one lone truck in the background, and one lone boy in the foreground, I see you can really have the place to yourself!

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