One thing that makes the Coso archeological complex special is that it is exceptionally well-preserved. This is partly due to the remoteness of the place and the dry, stable climate, but it is also the result of the U.S. Navy's efforts to meet its obligations as a federal land management agency.
All federal land-holding agencies are charged with protecting the cultural resources under their care. As the protector of a National Historic Landmark, the Navy faces the additional requirement that they not allow their normal functions to affect the Coso petroglyphs in an adverse way. Archeological discovery and analysis allows the Navy to know just where the petroglyphs are and, consequently, how to plan their exercises around them.
Since the early 1960s, archeologists have studied Coso with the aim of determining the District's borders. One three-season survey in the late 1960s was thorough enough to identify the essential range of petroglyph concentrations, resulting in preliminary borders for the District.
Archeologists walked along the bases of the volcanic terraces or down through the canyons, locating and recording rock art. They also found numerous intact village, camp, and work sites, each containing important information about the lives and beliefs of the ancient Numic people.
Further surveys fleshed out the variety of petroglyph types, styles, and locations. Likewise, newly-discovered work and occupation sites provided fresh insights into how Coso culture changed—and remained stable—over time. more >>