What Was Left:
In the course of everyday life, people produce a lot of trash. Food remains and objects made of plant fibers, animal skins, and other organic materials usually decay within a few years. Sometimes, though, the desert's dry air preserves them. These very rare objects help tell the fascinating story of how human beings lived here.
Stone tools and the waste chips from making them, stone fire rings full of ash, bone, and charcoal from long dead fires, broken pieces of pottery, and rock art all testify to how this place was used in the past.
What Is Left of What Was Left:
Valley of Fire was a favorite campsite for peoples of the past. They left behind many drawings, camp sites, trails, hunting blinds, and roasting ovens. Perishable items are very rare. The most common objects found are pieces of broken pots, chips of stone, and petroglyphs.
The archeological record is always fragmentary. Organic materials decay quickly; few baskets, fur and skin objects, wood or even bone tools survive. Most important to remember is that the richest area of human activity leave virtually no traces in the ground. Religious beliefs, medical practices, astronomy, poetry, games and music are some of these poorly preserved areas of human life. The figures in the petroglyph panel above seem to be both human and supernatural -- but a faint echo of the rich intellectual world of the people of the past.
Archeologists learn to read the story of the past in the scanty remains left behind by earlier peoples. Items scattered on the surface of a site can tell part of the story, and objects, ashes, and food remains that are buried can tell how old the site is. The relationship of artifacts to fire pits, water holes, or trails helps create a picture of how people lived hundreds or thousands of years ago.
The record is fragile, easily disturbed. To be able to tell the story of the past, the archeologist must find in place whatever peoples of the past left behind. The relationships between objects and their environment in a site are easily destroyed. If artifacts have been removed or holes dug into the site, the story can never be told completely. Only the trained archeologist, who works within strict guidelines and is dedicated to serving the public, should be permitted to excavate.
PLEASE DO NOT DISTURB ANY ARCHEOLOGICAL REMAINS YOU MAY DISCOVER. REPORT YOUR DISCOVERY TO PARK RANGERS. HELP PRESERVE THE CULTURAL TREASURES OF THE VALLEY OF FIRE.