WUPATKI NATIONAL MONUMENT, showing Wupatki Pueblo, one of its several large and spectacular dwellings, is a Sinagua site with a museum within its Visitor Center; displayed are a considerable number of artifacts, including a fair amount of jewelry, like the turquoise overlay mosaic (approximately 4 centimeters square) insert on the upper right. The lower left insert is a fine example of a Sinagua shell pendant of a stylized deer with inlaid turquoise bead simulating the eye, about 1.5 centimeters diameter (NA1785.T.23); it is from Ridge Ruins and on display at the Museum of Northern Arizona (MNA), Flagstaff. This image is courtesy of The Museum of Northern Arizona. Inset photographs by Robert K. Liu/Ornament.

Prehistoric Southwest
Jewelry and their sites


The prehistoric American Southwest contains the largest amount of archaeological ruins in North America, situated in some of the most beautiful landscape offered by our country.


The prehistoric American Southwest consists mainly of the present states abutting the Four Corners area (Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah, although southern Nevada and northwestern Mexico are also considered part of this cultural region). Situated in some of the most beautiful landscape offered by our country, this area contains the largest amount of archaeological ruins in North America. Ranking among the biggest attractions for domestic and foreign tourists, many of these sites are easily visible and accessible, whether federal national monuments or parks or run by state agencies. As the summer tourist season nears, the map on the facing page shows the sites visited and discussed in this article, and will be useful to visitors wanting to explore these places. Often the visitor centers or onsite buildings have displays of artifacts excavated from their respective ruins, including jewelry, while the larger parks have full-fledged museums. For the perceptive, seeing an artifact in its milieu can sometimes greatly enhance understanding of its role in that culture, as well as daily life, usually demanding in such arid environments. In the larger or culturally important cities of the Southwest, like Tucson, Phoenix, Flagstaff, Albuquerque, Santa Fe, and Denver, their museums often showcase the prehistoric Southwest. Their normally dry conditions, aided by the protective properties of being buried in ruins, have often contributed to the good state of preservation of much of the excavated prehistoric personal adornment, resulting in some remarkable intact necklaces or delicate work like overlay mosaic pendants, comparable to preserved jewelry in the similar climate of Peru or the Middle East. The Chapin Mesa Archeological Museum at Mesa Verde National Park displays at least two intact necklaces, shown on page 66 and in Liu (1990). Drawings of many additional intact neckwear or their fragments are in Jernigan (1978: 128, 130 - 131, Figs. 56 - 58; 180-183, Figs. 83 - 86). Today’s necklace designers would note much similarity to their own work.




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