University of Northern Colorado professors Robert Brunswig and David Diggs are collaborating on a project at Rocky Mountain National Park using predictive modeling technology to identify above-ground sacred sites once used by Native Americans.
They will lead a survey team that includes current and former students Aug. 9-13 in a remote part of the Never Summer Range at altitudes of more than 12,000 feet. The professors selected the area of the park using Geographic Information Systems software that predicted potential locations of such sites based on shared characteristics, such as common visual landmarks, of existing sites that have been discovered.
Since 1998, Brunswig has identified 1,100 sacred and cultural sites — more than 500 of them prehistoric — across some 38,000 acres in Rocky Mountain National Park.
Among his projects, Brunswig has also led excavations of a prehistoric Ute site, the oldest of its kind in Colorado, in North Park near Walden and a survey of a Paleoindian site near Craig. He's also collaborating with a multi-disciplinary research program in its early stages that involves Tatra National Park in Poland and Slovakia.
Diggs has presented the modeling technique that he and Brunswig use in Rocky Mountain National Park at international geography conferences.