The hiker who found the Pueblo Culture ceramic vessel, Randy Langstraat from the US state of Colorado, first carefully hid the pot, and then contacted the Bureau of Land Management to announce its location. It was subsequently explored by BLM archaeologist Sarah Page.
The pottery vessel has been found to date back to the Ancestral Puebloan people who lived in the region of the Arizona Strip between 1050 and 1250 AD.
The Pueblo Culture pot is now to be exhibited at the BLM’s St. George office, the agency announced Monday.
The pot has an effigy handle that appears to depict an animal, possibly a deer or bighorn sheep. The distinction is hard to make, however, because the ears or horns have broken off.
The piece falls into a category local archaeologists call North Creek Corrugated, which dates to the Late Pueblo II period, according to an analysis conducted by archaeologist David Van Alfen.
Archaeologists praised Langstraat for taking the appropriate steps to protect the pot, which was found in an area frequented by people and at risk of being removed or broken, The Spectrum reports.
It points out that removing a piece of pottery or any cultural resource, be it an arrowhead or a dinosaur fossil, is generally illegal on publicly owned US state and federal lands in Utah.
Scientists recommend that anyone who comes across something of interest let them know so it can be examined.
“While the BLM is tasked to protect these resources, we need everyone’s help to do so," Page, the BLM archaeologist, said in an email.
“Mr. Langstraat did the right thing by reporting the discovery of the pot to the BLM and by leaving it in place. Just like Mr. Langstraat, everyone can help to protect our Nation’s fascinating past. We hope that others will follow his example and respect our past," she is quoted as saying.
About 11,000 cataloged archaeological sites have been recorded along the Arizona Strip, The Spectrum points out.
They include pit houses, stone tools, corn husks, woven baskets, rock art, arrowheads and other artifacts scientists use to learn more about the history of people in the area.
The first recorded instances of people in the area date back 12,000 years, with the Ancestral Puebloans occupying the southern part of the Colorado Plateau from about 600 BC to 1,300 AD, according to the Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah.
They farmed corn, squash and other food along the region’s waterways in a comparatively “rural" development related to the societies that built the iconic settlements at Mesa Verde and Chaco Canyon in the Four Corners area.
The southern Paiute moved in around the year 1200, farming, hunting, gathering and largely thriving until Mormon settlers arrived in the mid-19th century.