foot trails

Archeologist couple documents human habitations along the U.S.-Mexico border


They did. And, moreover, “What were they doing? What were their food?”

They were hooked, and made an arrangement to do a supported, but unpaid, archeological survey of Cabeza Prieta.

Sandy and Rick, both 75, have documented over 600 features or sites that record human habitation in the area ranging from 10,000-year-old Paleo-Indian, through 16th-century European and 18th-century O’odham farming settlements.

They’ve been particularly interested in how the desert O’odham and their ancestors managed to make treks across the desert on foot, — from the Salt Pilgrimages to the Sea of Cortez; to the Yuma area to farm; and how they managed to conduct trade, as evidenced by seashells used for jewelry and obsidian for arrowheads.

Their survey is complete, but now they’re seeing “connections.”

Naturalist and writer Bill Broyles notes about the Martynecs, “Without their work, much information would already be lost to erosion and vandalism. Because of their work, sites are better protected, and we all — archeologists, site stewards, and public alike — have a better understanding of who, when, and how prehistoric and subsequent people lived there.”

In their 25 years, Broyles said, the Martynecs “by themselves or leading strong volunteer crews of dedicated desert detectives, have studied hundreds of archeological villages, camps and trails in Southwestern Arizona. They have filled in the blanks of major sites such as Las Playas, Charlie Bell Canyon, and Montreal Well.”


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