Archaeologists in Tucson, Ariz., have discovered footprints in the mud that they believe were left by Native American farmers, children and their dog 2,500 years ago, according to the Daily Mail. The footprints were preserved by thick mud blanketed by a flash flood that caused the area to get covered in sediment, subsequently leading to the creation of a hard crust.
The prints, which are located on a site that is now being developed into a new highway, give insights into the daily lives of these ancient natives. For example, the tracks show the adult farmers making their way across the fields while their children ran around them and their dog followed behind them. In another location, the prints point to one of the parents bending over to pick up their child before putting it back down shortly after.
The discovery of the prints, which date to between 500 and 800 B.C., marks the oldest known evidence of people from this time in the American Southwest, especially considering the inhospitable nature of the environment, ABC15 Arizona reported.
"I've been working in archaeology for 30 years, and I have to admit I'm pretty jaded, but this exposure brought me to tears," said Doug Gann, a preservation archaeologist who is currently using advanced 3D scanning to record the prints before they are cleared for the construction of the highway. "I've never seen or experienced a more direct connection to the lives of ancient peoples. What is really important here is that this is not just footprints, it is the totality of the context that the footprints are sunk into."
"Some 400 square meters (4,300 square feet) have been exposed so far, showing the footprints of men, women, children and dogs going about their daily lives," he added.
Although the construction of the bridge will not be halted and the entire area will not be excavated, archaeological, environmental and historical analyses will be conducted, according to KTAR News.