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Worker helping widen highway in northwestern New Mexico finds pottery artifacts

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BLOOMFIELD, N.M. - Workers widening a northwestern New Mexico highway bordering an archaeological site found artifacts that officials said might be from the ancient Puebloan culture.

The pottery pieces and fragments of charcoal, burned corn fibers and other material were found last week when a labourer noticed something red and black glinting in the sun, the Daily Times (http://bit.ly/1ziWSRj) reported Sunday.

The Mountain States Constructors Inc. crew was widening U.S. Highway 64 along the Salmon Ruins in Bloomfield when workers made the find.

Hector Beyale reported the discovery to a supervisor who alerted Salmon Ruins Executive Director Larry Baker.

"I could see the reddish colour with hand-painted black lines and knew this was something," Beyale said. "It was a nice piece with a pretty good size to it."

Beyale, 32, said he's been to Mesa Verde National Park and Chaco Canyon National Historic Park and recognized the pottery's painted black lines.

Baker said he thought it might be Pueblo III-era — between 1100 and 1300 A.D. — pottery based on the design on the shards.

"I'm speculating, but I believe it's midden, a trash deposit, based on the diversity of shards," Baker said. "This is great. We're in the process of recording the discovery, which we will keep it as part of our artifact collection."

Fragments of a mano — a grinding stone — were among the items discovered, Baker said.

Tori Myers, a ceramic specialist at the ruins, inventoried the find.

"I'll be cleaning them up a bit and identifying the origins of the pottery fragments, if we can, to see whether they come from nearby or far away," Myers said.

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