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Paul Dyck Rockshelter Collection Exhibit 

In the late 1950s, Paul Dyck became concerned that the rockshelter on his property would be pot hunted due to development in the Rimrock area. During an exhibit of his life-size paintings of Plains Indian Chiefs at the Southwest Museum in Los Angeles, Paul met Dr. Charles Rozaire, who was working at the museum at that time. Paul asked Dr. Rozaire if he would be interested in conducting a professional excavation of the rockshelter. A letter written by Dr. Rozaire to Paul Dyck in 1961, thanked Paul for showing him the rockshelter and tentatively set a date in early April of the next year to undertake excavations. The Dyck rockshelter excavations proved to be so interesting and the deposits so extensive that Dr. Rozaire conducted excavations over the course of seven seasons of investigations in 1962, 1968 (two seasons), 1969, 1970, 1971, and 1972. These excavations recovered thousands of artifacts, including a large collection of perishable materials preserved in the dry midden deposits inside the rockshelter.

The Dyck Rockshelter excavations of 1962 to 1972 are one of the most important investigations ever undertaken at an archaeological site in the Verde Valley because of the abundance of well-preserved perishable materials recovered through systematic excavations by professional archaeologists. The textiles and wooden artifacts that were collected rival and in many cases exceed those found in only a few other sites in the region.

Paul Dyck was born in Chicago in August 1917. His family was originally from Europe but lived in Alberta, Canada; Chicago, Illinois; and St. Paul, Minnesota. While in southern Alberta, the family lived with the Blackfoot Tribe and Paul’s father collected Plains Indian crafts, which began Paul’s life-long interest in the Plains Indian culture. Paul’s family returned to Europe in 1921, and it was decided that Paul was to train to be an artist. He was sent at age 12 to apprentice with his Uncle Johann van Skramlick, a well-known European portrait painter. At 15 he trained at the Munich Academy. Paul returned to New York in 1934 where he stayed for about three weeks, but then went to South Dakota to see his friend, One Elk, a Lakota Sioux holy man. Paul married One Elk’s daughter, Fawn, but she died in childbirth soon after the marriage.

In 1935, Paul traveled by motorcycle throughout the west for the next several years, returning to the East in winter to do freelance illustration work. While he was travelling he would make Indian sketches and sell them for 50 cents or trade them for meals and other necessities. Paul settled in Rimrock in the Verde Valley in 1938. Using money he earned from advertising illustration work, he purchased a 312-acre ranch that had fallen into disrepair. He worked on the ranch until 1942, when he went into the Navy, returning to his ranch after World War II. He spent the rest of his life working the ranch, raising horses and planting crops, as well as painting in his studio on the ranch. In 1953, he took up painting as a full-time career. He largely painted on board in the Old Master tradition or utilized the Japanese Sumi-e ink techniques, but he also worked with acrylics. Paul became well-known as a painter and ultimately had 65 one-man exhibitions all over the country, including New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Tucson. His paintings are included in the collection of the Phoenix Art Museum, the Museum of Northern Arizona, and the Tucson Museum of Art.

Paul Dyck passed away in 2006 at age of 88. In 2014, John Dyck, son of Paul Dyck and President of the Dyck Foundation, contacted the Verde Valley Archaeology Center to inquire if they would be interested in having the Dyck Rockshelter artifact collection and site records donated to it. The Center quickly accepted the collection. This exhibit displays only a tiny fraction of the items in the collection. There is a display of Farming and Gathering, Hunting, and Weaving.  It is our intention to rotate the items periodically over the next several years. You can download the free exhibit guide (495 KB PDF). 

Temporary Exhibits

Prehistoric Life in Camp Verde is based on excavations conducted recently within the town limits prior to development.  In 2006 EnviroSystems Management, Inc. conducted burial investigations and limited archaeological data recovery excavations at sites in the Finnie Flats area of Camp Verde at the request of Scott Simonton of Verde River Properties, LLC.  The study was conducted after consultation with, and  the concurrence of, four Native American tribes claiming cultural affinity to the area: Yavapai-Apache Nation, Yavapai-Prescott Indian Tribe, Hualapai, and Hopi Tribe.  Mr. Simonton has graciously loaned us his collection of artifacts from the excavation.

The Honanki Collection is on loan from the U.S. Forest Service of items from the Honanki Heritage Site, one of the few prehistoric sites in the National Register of Historic Places. One of the reasons Honanki is so significant to the Verde Valley was the discovery of a large number of perishable artifacts. The preservation of perishable artifacts, as seen in this exhibit, is outstanding. More examples of prehistoric cordage, basketry and weaving textiles have been recovered from Honanki than from any other site in the Verde Valley. Since all of such objects are composed entirely of perishable plant and animal materials, few textile and basketry materials have survived. At Honanki, for example, only about 120 textile fragments were recovered. Consequently, relatively little is known about the development and changes in perishable technologies through time. Our understanding of prehistoric Pueblo textiles and basketry is almost entirely based on materials found in dry caves, only a few of which have ever been scientifically excavated.