Simonton Ranch excavation finds featured at VVAC

Courtesy photo<br /><br /><!-- 1upcrlf2 -->When Camp Verde developer Scott Simonton was surveying property at the Simonton Ranch development several years ago he discovered he had a prehistoric pit house village. Items unearthed during the excavation will be on display at Saturday’s opening of the Verde Valley Archeology Center.

Courtesy photo<br /><br /><!-- 1upcrlf2 -->When Camp Verde developer Scott Simonton was surveying property at the Simonton Ranch development several years ago he discovered he had a prehistoric pit house village. Items unearthed during the excavation will be on display at Saturday’s opening of the Verde Valley Archeology Center.

CAMP VERDE - The idea behind the creation of the Verde Valley Archaeology Center was to create a place where prehistoric artifacts uncovered in the Verde Valley could be put on public display.

This Saturday, among the many artifacts out for view will be a collection on loan from Scott Simonton. In 2006, while he was developing the 360-acre Simonton Ranch he became aware of a fair-sized pit house village not far from the Verde River.

Although not required by law to do anything with it, he personally paid to have the site excavated and to preserve the unearthed artifacts.

The excavation determined that the site was primarily inhabited between about AD 950 and AD 1150. But radio carbon dating showed that it was occupied in some way as early as AD 540.

Most of the artifacts went to Sharlot Hall Museum in Prescott to be preserved, because there was no authorized curation facility in the Verde Valley.

But Simonton kept some of the more unique items and some that helped tell the story of the culture that once lived on the property.

His intention was, and still is, to put them on permanent display at the development, once it is built.

But a few months ago, VVAC founder Ken Zoll asked Simonton if he would be willing to loan some of his collection to the center. Simonton agreed.

On Saturday, visitors to the VVAC grand opening of its new facility on Main Street in Camp Verde will get an opportunity to see some of Simonton's collection.

"I find history fascinating and it has been a love of mine. I have had the great fortunate to travel in South America, Central America and Europe to visit ancient sites.

"I have always wondered what made people settle where they settled, what made them leave, how their culture developed and how the environment affected their lives," Simonton said.

The collection includes projectile points that date back to the paleo-Indian culture that roamed the valley 4,000 years ago. It also includes trade items that demonstrate that the culture living in the valley had trade ties that connected them with cultures on the Gila River to the south, White Mountains to the north and even to the Gulf of California.

"I found it interesting that the arrow heads tell a story by themselves of what was going on here. The older ones tend to be the larger ones, indicating that there was more large game available farther back.

"By the time the culture was dying out they were using small arrowheads as they were getting down to shooting rabbits," said Simonton.

Saturday's opening is from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The center is located at 385 S. Main St.

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