Who We Are

Visiting the Ancients was founded in 2008 and is based in Boulder, CO.

Our managing partner, Shelly Martin, has worked as a CRM Archaeologist, a wildland firefighter with the Forest Service in Oregon and Idaho, a BLM back country ranger in the Grand Gulch Primitive Area of Utah, and has held various positions in the outdoor clothing and gear industry. She has also been privileged to volunteer with environmental and archaeological organizations like the Great Old Broads for Wilderness,Pompeii Food and Drink Project, and ArchaeoSpain. She is an avid rock climber, hiker, backpacker, and world traveler.

Why did we start Visiting the Ancients?

When you visit an archaeological site, whether it is a ruin, a rock art panel, a scatter of stones or pottery fragments, you are stepping into a story. You may be walking into someone’s home, puzzling over images that were made by a real person’s hand, or wondering how the objects you see were used in every day life.

The ancient people that lived here before us didn’t always leave the clues we need to truly understand what we see. The purpose of everyday places and objects – which would have been obvious to the people of the time – can be perplexing and frustrating to us. Many of us aren’t sure if we are looking at the remains of rooms or buildings with clear functions, or just a pile of rocks. Some of us are fortunate enough to have a background in archeology and can see the difference. Others are just lucky enough to travel with an archaeologist who can explain!

At Visiting the Ancients, it is our hope to provide the information that traveling with a personal archaeologist might provide….What is that thing? What did they use it for? Why’d they do it that way? What is that hole for? Is this just a rock or something else?

We understand that the archaeological materials (cultural resources) located on public land are fragile and irreplaceable; a great deal of the damage and deterioration, noted by archaeologists and land managers at archaeological sites, is attributed to visitation. Well intended people – people who would never consider digging, collecting or vandalism – can cause irreversible damage while visiting a site by simply walking around and looking.

In an effort to preserve them, there are sensitive archaeological site locations that public land managers do not publish. While we agree with this approach, it is a reality that these sites will likely be visited. Their locations and access are sometimes easily found on numerous web sitesand online chat sites. Many of these online sources provide detailed instructions on how to get to the archeological sites, while providing little or no information regarding the history of a particular site or, more importantly, how to visit it in a low impact manner.

Visiting the Ancients hopes to provide a better understanding of the archaeological sites you may encounter while exploring the southwest. We hope to convey the rarity and sensitivity of all archaeological sites. We will not publish detailed instructions on how to get to specific sites, unless they have been stabilized and prepared for regular visitation. We will, however, provide information regarding general areas to explore and types of sites you might encounter there, including basic information regarding the cultural history of the ancient peoples of the Four Corners region of the Colorado Plateau.

All photographs by Shelly Martin, unless otherwise noted.

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