Ceramics from Chaco Canyon falling apart

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ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – Pieces of New Mexico’s history are falling apart. The glue used to put hundreds of pots found at Chaco Canyon back together is now giving out.

The collection of more than 350 prehistoric ceramics, recovered at Chaco Culture National Historical Park, is stored at the Hibben Center at the University of New Mexico. The relics date back about 1,000 to 1,200 years.

Museum Curator Wendy Bustard said many of the ceramics were glued back together, but the techniques used then aren’t standing the test of time.

“Some of our pots were collected over 100 years ago,” Bustard said. “What is now a vessel will turn back into shards. If we don’t do anything, they will fall apart.”

Some of the ceramics require only a small amount of effort to be restored; others could take 24 hours of labor. The conservation effort is estimated to cost a quarter million dollars.

“It’s time intensive, it’s labor intensive, and there’s no alternative,” Bustard said.

Bustard said the best chance at funding the conservation effort is through donations and grants. Friends of Chaco and the National Parks Foundation are both raising funds for the project.

Bustard said the goal is to finally bring some of the ceramics home to Chaco Culture National Historical Park for display at the visitors center.

“We want to give the public an idea of the range of materials that were in those sites when people lived there,” Bustard said. “There’s a sentiment amongst all of us that this is where they belong.”

The exhibit with some of the pots should open at the park in January 2017.

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