Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Long Distance Turquoise Trade, More on Sunflower Domestication

Southwestern Archaeology Making the News - A Service of the Center for Desert Archaeology

- Neutron Activation Reveals Mayan Turquoise Sources in New Mexico: Many visitors to the American South West come back with turquoise jewellery: the Native American people of Arizona and New Mexico exploited local sources, and modern craftsmen have developed a prosperous industry. Thirty years ago the archaeological scientists Garman Harbottle and Edward Sayre used neutron activation analysis to show that turquoise mosaics from Mexico, found as far away as the great Maya city of Chichén Itzá in Yucatan and dating back to around AD900, used raw material originating in the Cerrillos mines between Albuquerque and Santa Fe in New Mexico, an overland distance of some 3,200 km (2,000 miles).

- Correction/Update on May 1 Story about Sunflower Domestication. SAT readers have pointed to a reference that indicates this study may be based upon an incorrect species identification…." I have concluded that my initial verification of a specimen recovered from the San Andrés archaeological site in Mexico as domesticated sunflower was incorrect. The specimen in question is most likely the seed of a bottle gourd. As yet there is no compelling evidence that the sunflower was grown as a food crop in Mexico prior to European contact. In addition, the complete absence of any early historical record for the sunflower in Mexico argues against its presence in pre-Columbian times." Heiser, Charles B. ( 2008), The sunflower (Helianthus annuus) in Mexico: further evidence for a North American domestication. Genet Resour Crop Evol 55:9-13. Springer Science+Business Media B.V.

- Passing of Bruce Andersen: Passing of Bruce Anderson - Bruce A. Anderson, former Southwest Region archaeologist, passed away on April 8, 2008, in Crawford, Colorado. He was 68 years old. Bruce received both B.A. and M.A. degrees in anthropology from the University of Colorado/Boulder. He began doctoral work at Washington State University before accepting a position as archaeologist with the NPS in 1972. Though he worked and resided in Santa Fe during most of his career, Bruce traveled far and wide, working on archaeological projects and detail assignments from Hawaii to Washington, D.C., and from El Salvador to Colorado. His major career accomplishment was a seven-season field survey project at Wupatki NM. In 1991, he transferred to Wupatki NM and spent the remaining four years of his career as the park resources management specialist. Bruce retired in 1995 after 23 years of service. Bruce is survived by his life partner Jan S. Ryan. Bruce met Jan in 1983 at Wupatki NM, where she was a Ranger, and they married in 1985. Their careers took them to separate areas, but when Jan retired in 1999, they moved to Crawford, Colorado. - From Brian Kenny

- The National Park Service (NPS) and affiliated organizations are sponsoring a " Comprehensive Resource Stewardship " conference scheduled for May 20-23, 2008 at the Marriott Starr Pass Resort in Tucson, Arizona. We have identified a need to recruit competent volunteers to attend the conference to provide assistance monitoring rooms and concurrent sessions and to help with minor logistical issues that help make a conference run smoothly. Volunteers who provide support for two concurrent sessions or for a day's service, get to attend the conference for free. Individuals in the southern Arizona area who wish to volunteer to assist at the conference should contact me directly (or leave a message) at 602 794 3819, or via email at brian_kenny@nps.gov.
- Columbia Tree Ring Study Finds Strong Environmental Impacts on Ancient Puebloans: By looking across the region, Ed Cook and colleagues at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in Columbia University have pulled together a huge tree ring dataset. They've been able to use these results to map where and when drought took place. Interestingly, it was drier than today for most of the time the Anasazi flourished. But Cook's team has also shown that for several decades at a time the region became even more arid, experiencing what are sometimes described as mega-droughts, with particularly harsh periods around AD 1150 and 1250. It's clear that the Anasazi were capable of dealing with a certain degree of aridity, but it looks as though they had problems when the conditions went beyond what they were used to.
http://www.cdarc.org/page/46pa - Daily Telegraph

- John Hohstadt Trail Hikes near Bullhead City: On May 7th 14th 21st and 28th the Jedediad Smith Round Table will conducted interpretive hikes on the John Hohstadt Trail on the Bullhead City (AZ) Campus of Mohave Community College. Early area history and desert ecology will be discussed. The public is invited to participate at no charge. The graveled trail is .75 miles long over moderate terrain. Hikers should bring water and sun screen, and meet at the on-campus trail head at 8 AM for the one hour presentation. For additional information contact David McDaniel at (928) 758-7643 or bred@ctaz.com.

- Looter Killed By His Find: Like many boys in the South, Sam White got hooked on the Civil War early, digging up rusting bullets and military buttons in the battle-scarred earth of his hometown. As an adult, he crisscrossed the Virginia countryside in search of wartime relics — weapons, battle flags, even artillery shells buried in the red clay. He sometimes put on diving gear to feel for treasures hidden in the black muck of river bottoms. But in February, White's hobby cost him his life: A cannonball he was restoring exploded, killing him in his driveway.

Thanks TO Brian Kenny, Allen Dart, Dan Austin, David McDaniel for contributions to today's newsletter.