CAMP VERDE - The Verde Valley Archaeology Center has announced that the Cottonwood Meteorite will be added to the forthcoming exhibit on the return of the Camp Verde Meteorite.
The loan of these meteorites from the Arizona State University Center for Meteorite Studies was arranged with the cooperation of Dr. Lawrence Garvie, Research Professor at the ASU School of Earth & Space Exploration.
The Center will be hosting Dr. Garvie for a free talk on meteorites at 7 p.m. March 3 in the Phillip England Center for the Performing Arts, located at 210 Camp Lincoln Road in Camp Verde.
VVAC will also give monthly talks on the importance and uses of meteorites among ancient Native American cultures during the span of the exhibit.
The exhibit will open on March 1 and will run through Aug. 31. Because of the association of the Cottonwood Meteorite with possible ancient Native American practices, VVAC researched its background to establish whether this was true.
"It was a little disappointing to find that this meteorite was not a part of an ancient site, but it is good to clear up this misunderstanding" said VVAC Executive Director Ken Zoll. "Nonetheless, we are very pleased to add this specimen to the exhibit."
The Cottonwood Meteorite is an ordinary chondrite meteorite and weighed 1.8 pounds when inventoried by Arizona State University in 1970. Since that time, five thin sections totaling 0.3 pounds have been removed and given to other institutions such as the Chicago Field Museum.
Dr. Harvey H. Nininger, founder of the Sedona Meteorite Museum, explored various areas of the Verde Valley in search of meteorites. In his typed notes, he describes how he was driving on a road to Cottonwood in 1954 when he noticed "a pile of blue-grey lava boulders and they definitely did not belong where I saw them ... at least a mile away was the nearest source for such boulders. Knowing that the aborigines sometimes covered meteorites with boulders naturally, the thought flashed through my mind that perhaps this pile concealed something of interest."
This reference to aborigines remained in the folklore of this discovery, but VVAC found that his notes clearly state that "I happened to glance down and at my very feet lay a small stony meteorite, the size of a large potato." This meteorite fell in the Cottonwood area and has no association with Native American sites.
Dr. Nininger's fascination with meteorites began in 1923 when he saw a fireball in the sky. Eventually, he quit his job as a teacher to focus on hunting meteorites.
In 1946, he founded the American Meteorite Museum near Winslow. By this time, he had assembled an enormous collection of material. The museum moved to Sedona after Highway 89A was built. When business began to fall away, he was forced to close the museum and sell his collection.
VVAC is located at 385 S. Main St. in Camp Verde. The exhibit can be visited during regular business hours.
For more information, visit the VVAC website at www.verdevalleyarchaeology.org or by calling (928) 567-0066.