The site, along with nearly 10 other ruins of various dates and sizes, was found on a 26,000-acre parcel of land that the park acquired just last year.
In a release issued last week, park officials described the find as a “multi-room pueblo that is the same age and similar construction type as the famous Pueblo Bonito at Chaco Canyon,” but no pictures, dimensions, or other data were available.
Pueblo Bonito was built between 850 and 1150 A.D., with hundreds of rooms configured in a D-shaped formation.
The statement adds that Petrified Forest is thought to mark the approximate southwestern edge of the Chacoans’ sphere of influence, noting that another outlier site is known to exist on land just next to the park’s new holdings.
Petrified Forest NP acquired the land, previously known at the Hatch Ranch, in September 2011, in large part because its features were expected to yield sites of great archaeological value.
Its plains flanking the Rio Puerco were likely used by Ancestral Puebloans for agriculture, and its nearby mesas resemble those where habitation sites are often found.
|Basketmaker-period pithouse site discovered at Petrified Forest National Park (NPS)|
In addition to the newfound would-be great house, archaeologists discovered at least four smaller multi-room pueblos, three older pithouses dating back to the late Basketmaker period, and the ruins of small field houses used for crop tending.
“Every time I went out there I found another multi-room pueblo site,” said park archaeologist Bill Reitze in the statement.
“It was incredibly rich in archeology.”