KANAB Surveyors clearing the way for a highway project came across an unexpected find: an ancient home site nearly 1,200 years old.
Pit houses aren't uncommon in Utah but archaeologists noted the one found just north of Kanab because it was so well preserved.
The home was found amid red sandy soil just east of U.S. 89 in 2006. Crews digging through the site finished their work last week.
The house measured about 13 feet across and included a hearth, storage containers and several broken pots.
The single-family home probably belonged to members of the Virgin Anasazi, a prehistoric culture that once lived along the Virgin River, according to Kevin Kitchen, a Utah Department of Transportation spokesman.
State officials said the site sat undisturbed just below the surface for centuries, extending several feet beneath the ground.
"What is so amazing about the site is the pristine condition it is in," said UDOT archaeologist Pam Higgins. "My adrenaline was through the roof."
Jody Patterson, a vice president for Moab-based Montgomery Archaeology, said a similar site was excavated a few years ago during a pipeline operation.
"The (new site) was extensive, but not unexpected," she said.
Archaeologists at the site along U.S. 89 also found rabbit and deer bones and stone drill bits probably used for making jewelry.
"What was interesting was finding shells and what appears to be turquoise," Patterson said.
The items could provide clues about trading patterns among ancient people that once roamed the region.
State archaeologist Kevin Jones said the find is a reminder of how popular the area was for early inhabitants.
"There were probably more people living in the area at one time than now," he said.
Archaeologists took about a month to inventory the site. It was reburied last week.
A full report on the discovery could take about two years.