Volunteers throw mud to preserve an ancient artifact at Pueblo Grande Museum Archaeological Park

PHOENIX – Most museums ask guests not to touch the artifacts, but once a month, Pueblo Grande Museum and Archaeological Park encourages visitors to throw mud at a more than 800-year-old structure.

The va'aki, popularly called a platform mound, was built sometime in the Classic Period (1150-1450 C.E.) by the Hohokam, according to city of Phoenix archaeologists.

The mound "is the last visible part of the village of Pueblo Grande that you can still see," said Laurene Montero, Phoenix's city archaeologist. "It was a kind of spiritual place. I guess you could call it public architecture."

When it i...