Most of the sites that we found along this portion of the Virgin River consisted of pit houses with associated storage areas. Dan Larson had previously recorded this section of the river in 1987 and he identified many of the sites as Virgin Anasazi - A.D. 450-850.
Many of the following photos will look like just a pile of rocks and you might be thinking “…and this is a what?” Sometimes a pile of rocks is not just a pile of rocks; sometimes it may be part of a structure like a pit house or pueblo. The next time you are in an area like the Virgin or Muddy Rivers (Nevada) look more carefully and you may start to see patterns in the rocks. Most of the time it will be just a pile of rocks, but every once in a while you may see other telltale clues, such as lithic or pottery sherds, a line of rocks or a pile of rocks in a square or circular pattern. If you get lucky enough to see a habitat or village site, please leave the site as you found it and don’t be tempted to take a few souvenirs.
Information: Pit houses were typically circular, below ground level (hence the name pit), and will not have a ring of rocks around edge of the pit at ground level. Pueblo ruins can be circular, square, or rectangular, and you will normally see rocks outlining what once was the base of the structure similar to the lead photo above. Both of these may or may not show signs of having a pit because of blown-in sediment, or the roofs or the walls of the structures having collapsed in on itself leaving it at ground level or with a depression in the ground.
Extra Information: The paragraph below was plagiarized from somebody’s website, but I can’t remember whose so I can’t give them credit.
Virgin Anasazi/Patayan (ca. 2000-850 B.P.) This period is defined by the appearance of Virgin Anasazi and Patayan (Lower Colorado) populations in Southern Nevada. The Meadow Valley Wash and the Muddy and Virgin River valleys were the focus of Virgin Anasazi occupation. The Virgin Anasazi initially constructed pithouses and practiced limited horticulture along the rivers and streams in the region. They also maintained a hunting and gathering component in their subsistence throughout their existence, although agriculture eventually became the dominant mode of subsistence. This culture flourished in the region from approximately 2000 B.P. to 850-800 B.P. and then withdrew, or vanished, from the area.
To get a better idea of what we were seeing, please visit the Lost City Museum in Overton Nevada. The museum has reconstructed a pueblo and a pit house next to the museum. Also check our Lost City Museum page on this website under “Nevada’s Historic & Miscellaneous Places”