Support Research DONATE to the AAHS Research and Travel Grant Fund

Loading Events
  • This event has passed.

Maxwell Forton – High Places in the Painted Desert: Exploring Salient Spaces at Petrified Forest National Park

December 19, 2022 @ 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm MST

This lecture is free and open to the public but you must pre-register at:

Petrified Forest National Park, located a few hours east of Flagstaff, is world renowned for its deposits of Triassic-era petrified wood. This landscape also contains a rich cultural history, with over 10,000 years of human habitation and use preserved in over 1,200 documented archaeological sites. The majority of these sites are attributed to Ancestral Pueblo communities who dwelt in the Petrified Forest region for centuries, farming the landscape and creating one of the highest concentrations of petroglyphs found in the American Southwest. My research examines two sites which suggest differing forms of social power performed in the Petrified Forest landscape. The Mac Stod site is a small great house, possibly representing a far flung node of Chacoan ideology. Conversely, the Lacey Point site is a suspected shrine site centered in more local ideologies, which exhibits a surprisingly large and diverse artifact assemblage. Through an examination of petroglyphs, ceramics, and landscape I assess how Mac Stod and Lacey Point embody different forms of salient space in the Petrified Forest. 

Short bio:

Maxwell Forton is PhD candidate at Binghamton University, studying the relationship between landscapes and rock imagery in the Chaco World. Max is originally from rural Michigan, where he earned his B.A. in Anthropology from Michigan State University in 2014. He currently lives in Tucson working at Coronado National Forest. Max has worked as a professional archaeologist at Petrified Forest National Park, Navajo National Monument, multiple CRM firms, and as the Survey Director for Archaeology Southwests Upper Gila Preservation Archaeology Field School. At the 2018 Pecos Conference he won the Cordell Prize for his research into shield depictions at Pueblo III cliff dwellings in Tsegi Canyon. 

Suggested Readings

1998) Hays-Gilpin, Kelley and Eric Van Hartesveldt- Prehistoric Ceramics of the Puerco Valley: The 1995 Chambers-Sanders Trust Lands Ceramic Conference.

(1993) Burton, Jeffery F.-When is a Great Kiva? Excavations at McCreery Pueblo, Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona 

(2016) Van Dyke, Ruth M., R. Kyle Bocinsky, Thomas C. Windes, and Tucker J. Robinson-Great Houses, Shrines, and High Places: Intervisibility in the Chacoan World.

(1994) McCreery, Patricia and Ekkerhart Malotki-Tapamveni: The Rock Art Galleries of Petrified Forest and Beyond. (2004) Potter, James-The Creation of Person, the Creation of Place: Hunting Landscapes in The American Southwest 


December 19, 2022
7:00 pm - 8:30 pm MST
Event Category:


Fran Maiuri