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Anthropology Using Cutting Edge Tech at Montezuma Well

Ryan Sipe and Jared Wood

In late July, MASS graduate student Ryan Sipe and faculty members Jared Wood and Lance Greene traveled to Montezuma Well, a natural and cultural site managed by the National Park Service in central Arizona. This team of three from the Department of Sociology and Anthropology were contracted to document a frontier smokehouse from the late 1800s using terrestrial LiDAR scanning technology. The smokehouse is the earliest remaining structure from the “Back Ranch,” a homestead, farm, and livestock operation established by William B. Back in 1888. The Back family was well known in the area for supplying produce, preserved meat, and livestock to nearby residents and those as far away as Flagstaff, where they made regular trips. The Backs were also entrepreneurs in the early tourist days of the American West, guiding tours of the Well and nearby prehistoric ruins, and creating souvenirs to sell to visitors. The Back Ranch is currently nominated as a Historic District with the National Register of Historic Places, and the smokehouse is regarded by some as the oldest standing log structure in Arizona. Using this advanced laser scanning technology, Sipe, Wood and Greene gathered data in the field and are creating an extremely accurate digital rendering of the smokehouse, which will aid the National Park Service in current monitoring efforts and possible stabilization of this important cultural resource.

Jared Wood with Lidar

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