Message #422: From: AzTeC SW Archaeology SIG To: "'Matthias Giessler'" Subject: Hohokam Observatory Date: Tue, 24 Dec 96 09:29:00 MST Encoding: 45 TEXT Ruins need to be protected from vandals, group says By Mike Padgett, Staff Writer, Page B1, Arizona Republic, Monday December 23, 1996 Six days a week, Tom Mildebrandt hikes past an ancient Hohokam observatory hidden in the North Mountain Preserve. "A lot of people walk by it every day and don't even know it's there, " he said. That's good, Mildebrandt says, becauseit means the centuries-old ruin will remain unchanged. However, leaving the ruin unprotected exposes it to vandalism, which, he says, already has begun. That's why Mildebrandt, Phoenix archaeologist todd Bostwick and others are asking the city to protect the site by posting signs around it that explain its importance. Mildebrandt , a retired Department of Public Safety officer, found out about the circular ruin in June. On one of his hikes, he went to investigate a car parked partway up the hillside. There he met Bostwick, learned the history of the 70-foot diameter ruin and volunteered to help protect it. The ruin dates to the 1100s or 1200s A.D. and has been known to non-Indians since the late 1800s. But only recently did a three-year study reveal that sunlight patterns during summer and winter solstices hit specific petroglyphs on central stones. The Study was completed by Bostwick and Stan Plim, a US West technician-turning-archaeologist. Plum said there are similar rock rings in northern and southern Arizona, but this is the first of its kind found in metropolitan Phoenix. "That's the good, the bad and the ugly of it," Plum said. "There's already been some vandalism." He and Mildebrandt declined to give its exact location in the preserve, which is near Seventh Street and Thunderbird Road. Bostwick is out of the country and could not be reached for comment. In a paper they wrote this year, Bostwick and Plum said they have determined "that this site was a prehistoric solar observatory." Mildebrandt said in a few months he's known about the ruins, he's noticed the disappearance of a few rocks etched with petroglyphs. Because it's impractical to fence off the ruins and post a guard, the City could add signs and recruit volunteers to watch for vandalism, said Roger Lidman, director of Pueblo Grande Museum and Cultural Park, 4619 E. Washington St. Lidman said the ruins could be monitored by volunteers in a program run by the State Historic Preservation Office. Ann Howard, Public-archaeology programs manager for the office, said there are about 400 volunteers, called site stewards, across the state. The stewards regularly check on more than 100 archaeological sites that aren't fenced or guarded. If vandals are seen, police are called. Howard prefers to have the ruins open to the public, but protected. "There needs to be some information available to these folks, either through signage or visitor logs present at the site where they can pick up information," she said.