The variety and quantity of small artifacts found on private land near Emma makes the parcel worth preserving, argued archaeologist Melissa Elkins to Pitkin County commissioners during a site visit Thursday.
Dozens of artifacts cover the parcel in what archaeologists refer to as “lithic scatter,” which means items of interest are concentrated in the area.
The spot is located on Bear Ridge Road and was the subject of a report done in December and released last month by Elkins, of Eagle-based Metcalf Archaeological Consultants, Inc. The report notes that 27 intact prehistoric tools and arrowheads were found on the site dating from roughly from 2,000 years ago.
Archaeologists who surveyed the site recommended it as eligible for the National Register of Historic Places.
Property owners David Brown and Jody Anthes asked the local government last month to place the parcel on the county’s historic register and grant them two transferable development rights, which can be sold to developers to get size and massing bonuses.
County commissioners and staff from the Aspen Historical Society visited the site Thursday to get a better idea of whether or not the land is worth preserving.
Lisa Hancock, vice president and curator of collections at the Aspen Historical Society, said that if the county decided to preserve the land the historical society could potentially display the artifacts to the public.
“My agenda, if it’s decided to preserve [the land], is I would like the historical society to be the repository for the artifacts,” Hancock said.
The organization currently displays Native American artifacts from nearby cities like Craig due to a lack of available artifacts found locally, Hancock said.
Commissioners questioned Elkins on the location of the artifacts and whether researchers at state universities or the Denver Museum of Nature & Science would want to excavate the site.
It’s a difficult prediction to make, because research is often driven by personal interest, Elkins said.
“From a preservation stand point, the best thing to do is leave it alone,” she added.
After the discussion, site-visit attendees wandered around the parcel picking up the small artifacts for closer inspection.
“I’m going to go home and do my homework,” said Commissioner Jack Hatfield as he looked over the land. “There are any number of ways these could have gotten here over the ages.”