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To most people, the obsidian that litters the Valles Caldera National Preserve is merely an interesting geological feature. To Anastasia Steffen, the preserve’s Cultural Resources coordinator, each of these stone artifacts is a portal to the ancient past. With a limited staff and resources, Steffen and her team have slowly been collecting historical data from what she calls one of the most significant archeological locales in the world. An astonishing image is emerging. Modern peoples are only the latest ones to be attracted by the preserve’s bounty. “There are indications of significant human activity for at least 10,000 years,” Steffen said.As these finding are assimilated into a historic vision of the past, the public’s fascination has been piqued. “People want to know what happened in the past, how we got here, who was here before us, and how they lived,” she said. The obsidian on the Valles Caldera can help to answer some of these questions. “There are few other remnants or remains of the very ancient inhabitants of the preserve,” she explained.
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