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Turquoise and Ants

Ants and Turquoise?  I just read the most interesting article in The Allure of Turquoise which was published by New Mexico Magazine.  It seems that harvester ants are attracted to Turquoise. They will dig it out and carry it back to their nests!  In fact, at Chaco Canyon archeologists started mapping the ant nests at one ruin site in 1976. The two species of harvester ants in New Mexico are avid gatherers of blue and green gem quality natural Turquoise.   They don’t seem to care about beads or shells of other colors.  The outside of the ant nest and dome is coated with Turquoise fragments like veneer.    It’s a problem and an interesting dilemma for archeologists.  On the one hand, the ants are carrying away evidence of what went on at a specific Chaco site.  On the other, by studying the location of the nests and distances from Chaco’s ruins, archeologists have gained a tremendous amount of information about what happened at Chaco and when.  It has enabled researchers to determine where jewelry manufacturing took place in specific ruins.  The large volume of Turquoise at the nests has also enabled them to more precisely date when the production took place.  I have always been fascinated by Chaco Canyon and its ancient ruins.  It’s a hard place to get to but worth the trip.  Next time I go I will definitely be looking for those ant hills!

Leap of Faith
The Lincoln Canes