Razz-a-ma-tazz: Mark Varien of Crow Canyon

Razz-a-ma-tazz: Mark Varien of Crow Canyon

by Art Goodtimes

IMG_5178  Archaeologist Dr. Mark Varien spoke recently in Telluride at the Telluride Historical Museum. If you missed it, you missed a wonderful talk. I know that to be true, even if I was out of town and wasn’t able to attend myself.

I’ve heard Mark talk in Cortez and at Grand Junction. His lectures are riveting – not because of any verbal histrionics. He has a quiet voice and demeanor. But because he has a brilliant mind and speaks with authority and knowledge.

As chance would have it, we met before I even moved to San Miguel County, more than 30 years ago. I was hitch-hiking up to Telluride to visit my sem buddy Craig Chapot, and this young archie picked me up on his way up from Dolores, where he was working on the McPhee project – excavating ancestral puebloan ruins that were about to be inundated by the new dam.

We hit it off. We traded addresses, and after I moved out to Telluride that next summer, I went to visit him on the archaeological dig in McPhee Canyon and at the mysterious kiva at House Creek.

He was the one that urged me to read three authors if I was to really know this area – two of whom became personal acquaintances: Ed Abbey and John Nichols. While I never met the third, Wallace Stegner, I became thoroughly acquainted with his work as well.

Mark and I have remained friends ever since.

IMGP0515 And his work at Crow Canyon Archaeological Center outside Cortez, where he serves as Vice-President of Programs (formerly Director of Research), is legendary in the Southwest. He recently was invited to attend a cultural preservation conference in the Sultanate of Oman along with 500 other archaeologists from around the world – a fitting symbol of his international prestige.

If you don’t know about Crow Canyon’s wonderful experiential program, which has won numerous awards, then you are missing out on an incredible scientific resource here in the Four Corners. Check out the website to learn more.

And if you can take a class or workshop with Dr. Mark Varien, seize the opportunity. You’ll be studying with the best.

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