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Border Patrol

Agents discover archaeological artifacts west of Tucson

Tucson Sector Border Patrol agents have discovered two sets of archaeological artifacts in the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument since February, U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced Tuesday.

In late February, Ajo Station agents patrolling on foot came across what they believed to be an ancient bowl hidden in a shady outcropping of rock, the Border Patrol said.

Officials from the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument were notified and identified the clay vessel as an olla, an ancient pot that was used to hold water and was stored in shade to keep the water cool, the Border Patrol said.

Agents patrolling in the same mountains in March discovered a second site with similar artifacts that were hidden in the entrance of a cave. The agents photographed the objects and passed the photos along to Organ Pipe officials for removal and preservation, the Border Patrol said.

Some of the artifacts were removed by Border Patrol agents via helicopter to protect them from damage that could have been caused by carrying them out of the rough terrain, said Organ Pipe Superintendent Lee Baiza.

"We appreciate the Border Patrol's efforts," he said.

Baiza said Wednesday that the pots were prehistoric and ancestral to the Tohono O'odham, but have yet to be dated. The artifacts are now with the Western Archaeological and Conservation Center in Tucson where a ceramics curator will evaluate and catalog them. They will be stored at WACC for preservation, Baiza said.

“The foresight of these agents to not disturb either of these archeological sites, but rather document the locations and notify the proper authorities, demonstrates a fine balance between conducting law enforcement activities and preserving our nation’s historical and natural resources,” said Ajo Station Agent in Charge Jack Jeffreys.

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Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument

Several ancient bowls were discovered beneath a rock ledge by Border Patrol agents in Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument.