Ancient Rimrock Rockshelter Collection Comes To Life Again
At The Verde Valley Archaeological Center

March 18, 2016

Paul Cooley
By Paul Cooley

On the evening of March 3rd, Ken Zoll, Executive Director of the Verde Valley Archaeological Center, presented to the Sedona Westerners a talk on the Paul Dyck Rockshelter Collection being curated at the Verde Valley Archaeological Center in Camp Verde.

Zoll is one busy person, giving lectures on subjects such as the Dyck collection as well as lectures on his self proclaimed main interests of: archeoastronomy, planning an archaeological museum and meeting center on 15 acres of land donated to the Center, launching a public phase of a Capital Campaign to raise money to achieve the objectives of the museum and meeting center, and starting a Site Watch Program in support of the Arizona Site Steward Volunteer Program of Arizona State Parks. This program will in part train new site stewards to monitor sensitive archaeological sites in the Verde Valley, among other activities.

Ken Zoll outside of a Cliff dwelling.

Zoll told the audience some history relating to Paul Dyck, who was born in Chicago, had a life long interest in the Plains Indians Culture and who came to the Verde Valley in the late 1930's and purchased a 312 acre ranch in Rimrock. After service in the US military during World War II, Dyck spent the rest of his life working the ranch, raising horses and planting crops, as well as painting in his studio on the ranch. Zoll stated that Dyck became well-known as a painter and ultimately had 65 one-man exhibitions all over the country, including New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Tucson, his paintings are included in the collection of the Phoenix Art Museum, the Museum of Northern Arizona, and the Tucson Museum of Art.

Zoll stated that sometime in the late 1950s, Paul Dyck became concerned that the rockshelter on his property would be pot hunted due to development in the Rimrock area. Dyck, he said, contacted Dr. Charles Rozaire, a professional archaeologist, and asked if he would be interested in conducting a professional excavation of the rockshelter. The Dyck rockshelter excavations proved to be so interesting and the deposits so extensive that Dr. Rozaire conducted excavations over the course of seven seasons of investigations in 1962, 1968 (two seasons), 1969, 1970, 1971, and 1972.

Paul Dyck passed away in 2006 at the age of 88 and in 2014 Paul Dyck's son contacted the Verde Valley Archaeological Center and wanted to know if they would be interested in the excavated materials which had been kept in a wooden building at the ranch. The Center, which had recently gone through an accreditation process to become a curator of artifacts, did not hesitate to accept the collection and a dedicated group of volunteers have been working on the collection since that time preserving, cataloging and preparing portions of it for display at the museum.

Zoll stated that The Dyck Rockshelter appears to be a cliff dwelling that dates from approximately AD 1100 to 1300 and is associated with the Sinagua people that occupied the Verde Valley during that time period. What is fascinating about the collection is the fact that many of the items where grouped together and stored by the ancient Indians in cysts or holes in the floor of the rock shelter protecting them from the elements and maintaining a constant environmental condition that acted to preserve them. It is speculated by Zoll that the items were actually stored at this location while the ancient Indians migrated to a different area to begin a new phase of their lives. The collection, of over eleven thousand artifacts, consists of textiles, ancient plant life (among them over 500 corn cobs of corn of various sizes and colors), weaving tools, ancient weapons and the only known collection of ancient gaming pieces.

The Center is located at 385 S. Main Street, Camp Verde, AZ. Admission is free and they are open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on all days, except they are closed on Tuesdays, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve and Day, New Year's Eve and Day and open from noon to 4 p.m. on Sundays.

If you are interested in joining the club, visit the Sedona Westerners website or just come to one of our monthly meetings. The next one will be on Thursday, April 14, 2016 at 7 pm at Saint John Vianney Parish 180 St. John Vianney Lane in Sedona.


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