[Tagging] tagging historic ruins

Tod Fitch tod at fitchfamily.org
Sun Jan 5 18:55:04 UTC 2020

The name value almost certainly should not be “Indian Ruin”. If “Indian Ruin” is used for a value at all it should be in the description tag. Probably the more politically correct nowadays might be “Native American ruins”.

Most of the larger sites have official names. “Montezuma Castle National Monument”, “Casa Grande Ruins National Monument”, “Tuzigoot National Monument”, “Tonto National Monument”, “Walnut Canyon National Monument”, “Palatki Heritage Site” and “Canyon de Chelly National Monument” in Arizona spring to mind. Within those sites the there may be individual buildings/groups of buildings that have names as well but those often seem to be descriptive (“Big House” or “South Buildings”).

I am not as familiar with sites outside of Arizona but suspect the same is true of those in New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, etc.

One trouble with names it that the people who lived in those areas moved out long before the advent of written documentation so we don’t know what they called the places. All the names are from later peoples (different native American tribes moving in, Spanish or Anglo). So I think the official names, probably found in the GNIS database is the best you are going to do.

Regarding historic:civilization tag using “Ancestral Pueblo people” vs “Anazazi”, I think I’d go with “Ancestral Pueblo” as I think that is, from current thinking, historically accurate. I believe that “Anazazi” is Navajo for something like “ancient enemy” but could be wrong on that. I guess I should have kept up contact with the fellow from the Hopi reservation that I went to high school with to be a bit more familiar with this history/background. :)

Regarding mapping of the individual buildings, my single feeble attempt at one site was foiled by the fact that it was, as is typical, in an overhang under a cliff with limited access. So my GPS had very inaccurate data and the site is not visible on aerial imagery. Best of luck in your mapping.


> On Jan 5, 2020, at 10:17 AM, Rob Savoye <rob at senecass.com> wrote:
> On 1/5/20 10:56 AM, Martin Koppenhoefer wrote:
>> from my point of view, yes, it is usually preferable to tag ruins with
>> historic=archaeological_site (unless they are modern/recent). I’ve
>> myself used historic=ruins a lot many years ago and have since changed
>> most of them to archaeological site.
>> I also suggest to add historic:civilization to give more
>> context: https://taginfo.openstreetmap.org/keys/historic:civilization#values
>  historic:civilization='Ancestral Pueblo people' or 'Anasazi' ? Yeah,
> last known inhabitants was 1300AD.
>> And site_type of course: https://taginfo.openstreetmap.org/keys/site_type
>  I think archeologists still are arguing over the site type. :-) Nobody
> really knows whether they were forts, food, storage, lodging, or all of
> the above.
> (https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/riddles-of-the-anasazi-85274508/)
>> I’d see historic=ruins as a very generic fallback when you have no clue
>> what you are looking at, but which should ideally be retagged if you do
>> have an idea what it is.
>  I'll fix the tag. When I get down that way, I plan to collect more
> information from the locals. Most of it is reservation land and poorly
> mapped. It's about a remote a place you can get to in the continental US.
>  Oh, most of these have 'name="Indian Ruin", not sure if that's
> necessary as it's redundant.
> 	- rob -
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