Sunday October 3, 1999

MEXICO A powerful earthquake that struck southern Mexico this week damaged the important pre-Hispanic ruins of Monte Alban, and other archaeological sites in the state of Oaxaca.

CALIFORNIA Cecil B. DeMille, a founding father of motion pictures, once chose this remote, wind-swept site 170 miles north of Los Angeles to erect a replica of ancient Egypt and stage his 1923 silent epic "The Ten Commandments." In an endeavor as sublime as it is ridiculous, what is left of the lost city of DeMille may soon be saved by an archaeological dig like none other.

TEXAS The aim of the Metroplex Archaeology Fair, sponsored by the Tarrant County and Dallas County archaeological societies, was to teach the public the value of preserving archaeological sites and materials. The fair, conducted as part of Texas Archaeology Awareness Month, focused on tools, materials and lifestyles of American Indians who lived in Texas before its colonization. A conference drew about 200 people eager to learn some of the lesser-known history of Dallas. The organization supports a strengthening of the city's historic preservation code now being considered. The current ordinance in Dallas doesn't protect buildings from demolition.

NEW MEXICO On a warm June day 12 years ago, Richard Roybal, edged the bucket of his backhoe for a final pass across a plot of dirt on a bench of land above the trickling Glorieta Creek. "I was telling the guy, 'Just take a few scrapes,'" said Kip Siler, who had taken two weeks' vacation that summer to start building a new home. Roybal was clearing and leveling a 21/2-foot-deep foundation when his bucket went "bump, bump, bump" across a row of skeletons suddenly poking through the dirt. Roybal had inadvertently opened the long-lost resting place of 31 Texans buried the day after the Battle of Glorieta Pass in a shallow grave on Pigeon's Ranch. The mass grave had defied discovery for 125 years. Voters last November passed a $12 million bond for preservation of open spaces and the creation of parks and trails. County and city planners and dozens of residents have identified 18 land parcels with an estimated market value of $23 million that they deemed a priority for protection. But with only $12 million to spend, the challenge is trying to stretch the tax money and decide what to do first.

ARIZONA Arizona Earth Science Week 1999, October 10-16: activities for kids, dinosaurs, fossils, meteorites, minerals, petrified wood, sinkholes, museum tours, riparian and water lectures and geology tours, opn-pit and underground mine tours, field trips, etc. Grasshopper flourished as a home for a succession of Indians beginning about 1300.

CYBERIA Although 20th century people tidy up and put away their belongings, the ancients were more likely to leave things where they fell, including pottery, utensils and even foodstuffs. Those objects would be covered over by each new layer of dirt flooring, to be lost for centuries. It's serendipitous: Cleanliness may be next to godliness, but clutter benefits the historian.,1575,SAV-9910030419,00.html After years of resistance from local authorities, activists two years ago succeeded in obtaining a court order to demolish some 600 illegal buildings inside the Italian archeological park. Between 1898 and the mid-1950s there were approximately 40 major dinosaur collecting expeditions at Dinosaur Park. Finding the missing digs can be like looking for a needle in a haystack, said Tanke, who is searching for old photographs people may have taken at the park between 1913 and 1956. Dive updates will be posted at website for Blackbeard's ship. A site rich in Native American artifacts that experts believe could be 5,000 to 10,000 years old was discovered in April. The site also offers a rare glimpse of life in the early 18th century.