In 2015, the Town of Springerville obtained a National Park Service Grant to perform architectural stabilization at the ancient village of Casa Malpais National Historic Landmark. Archaeology Southwest and the Zuni Ancestral Lands Corps partnered with local volunteers, including Round Valley Boy Scout troop 642 to document and stabilize threatened architecture at this Ancestral Puebloan village.
Stabilization efforts resulted in 460 linear feet of masonry walls successfully repointed. In addition, we conducted two other efforts. Drone-based digital mapping recorded the position of all known walls at Casa Malpais, and a safety hazard was corrected by removing a large stone from the visitors’ trail that could cause people to trip—not good, next to a 30-foot cliff face.
The site was mapped and modeled using a UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle, commonly known as a drone) and photogrammetric modeling software. By collecting 700 aerial images, the software is able to create meticulous three-dimensional models of everything visible upon the site. The models are incredibly detailed and will serve as an archive of the state of the site in 2017.
To correct for the trip hazard, we first had to evaluate just what the large stone was doing in its current location. Was the stone in situ (in other words, had the stone been placed there by the ancients)? Was it the top stone on a buried wall? In either of those cases, we would not be able to move the stone, as that would have damaged the archaeological record. Fortunately, a pull-tab wedged in the dirt beneath this stone indicated that the rock had been dislodged by modern processes. The stone and loose fill beneath was removed, revealing in situ wall stones in a stable, buried configuration. The trail was repaired and visitors to the site may now safely tread over this previously tricky spot on the path.
The project wrapped up in June 2017, and the ancient village of Casa Malpais was stabilized and ready for sharing this place of the past with summer and autumn visitors seeking respite from the heat in the mountain air.