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The natural world. Looking pretty for 3.5b years.

Granary's Rainbow

a major archeological discovery was made in Utah's canyon country

Author: Hugh Bollinger/Saturday, July 27, 2013/Categories: natural history, photography, adventure

Up a desolate canyon, by a slow-moving river, far from any roads...sounds like the beginning to a mystery novel. A novel it isn't but a mystery it definitely is.

During a recent expedition by the Colorado Plateau Archeological Alliance in the canyon country of central Utah, an incredibly well preserved pair of ancient granaries and pictographs were discovered high in a red-rock alcove. How they were constructed out of bricks, 80 feet up a vertical sandstone wall, with no access above the river, 1200 years go, is a real mystery.

Alliance director and expedition organizer, Jerry Spangler commented: "they may be the best preserved example of this type of Fremont construction ever discovered."


Freemont Granary and Rainbow Pictographs, Utah  (credit: Steve Lutz)

According to archeological research, the Fremont people inhabited the canyon lands of eastern Utah until the 9th or 10th Century AD and then abandoned their dwellings. The mystery of why is debated but it is likely due to regional climate change and maybe raiding parties of tribes from elsewhere in the Southwest.


The just discovered granaries maintain their intact lids unopened. The ceiling walls behind the structures contain drawings of a complete rainbow accompanied by celestial guardians in perfect condition. The Alliance plans to mount a expedition with technical climbers able to fully investigate the stunning granaries and pictographs for eventual scientific publication.

The Fremont were the ancestors of several Native American tribes that continue living in the West today. The novelist Tony Hillerman has often used their history, legends, and rituals as the basis for his mystery novels. The questions about about these ancient constructions could easily prove the basis for a new Hillerman novel.

Granary's Rainbow might be a fitting title.

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