Sherds in the dirt discovered at the Coombs Archaeological Site


New clues help to answer an elusive question: Who are the present-day descendants of Coombs village?

Located on the grounds of the Anasazi State Park Museum near Boulder, Utah, the Coombs Archaeological Site is one of the largest Ancestral Puebloan communities north of the Colorado River. As many as 250 people lived in this village, which was occupied from 1160 AD to 1235 AD. During excavations in the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s, archaeologists removed thousands of artifacts. They discovered a community of about 90 rooms divided into two separate one-story building complexes as well as several pit structures. (Most of the village remains unexcavated.) Today, archeologists are using modern technology and techniques to study the artifacts and structures to better understand the lifeways of these ancient peoples. More important, attempts are being made to link these ancestral peoples to their present-day descendants. In fact, one artifact – a broken pot – may provide a tantalizing clue to answer the question: What is the cultural affiliation of this Kayenta Branch of the Ancestral Puebloan peoples in southern Utah?

Don Montoya, MA, RPA is a cultural resources management consultant. He recently retired as a BLM archaeologist at the Moab Field Office in Utah. Previous positions include museum curator and site archaeologist at Anasazi State Park Museum in Boulder, Utah; adjunct instructor at Brigham Young University; archaeology technician for the Uinta National Forest; and research assistant/computer specialist in BYU’s anthropology department and Museum of Peoples and Cultures. Montoya conducts research in the Colorado River canyonland’s geophysical region of the Colorado Plateau. He holds graduate degrees in museum studies and archaeology and an undergraduate degree in electronics technology.