Searching for the secrets to Navajos smoke signals

Published on May 16th, 2009 | by Admin


Archaeologists and volunteers are fanning out over part of New Mexico to study how early Navajos may have used smoke signals to warn against invaders.

The sites in the area where New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado and Utah meet feature the remains of what were once formidable structures made of stacked sandstone. The theory is that Navajos bunkered down inside the pueblitos and possibly used smoke to send warnings across long distances, said Jim Copeland, an archaeologist with the Bureau of Land Management in Farmington.

Copeland said experiments in the early 1990s showed the method of warning could work in general, but scores of new sites have been identified since then and scientists want to know more about how the signals could have been relayed. Improved computer modeling and analysis has refined the idea of an “early warning system.”

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