Monday, July 28, 2008

Chaco Road Studies and Resources Posted On Line, Ghost Towns

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

- Chaco Road Controversy, Needs Analysis Documents form San Juan County: CR7950 accommodates relatively few vehicle trips on a daily basis, the roadway is important to San Juan County for a number of reasons. The roadway serves as the primary access route to and from Chaco Culture National Historical Park, a functional role in the local roadway network created through a 1996 study and improvement project conducted cooperatively among the National Park Service, San Juan County, and the New Mexico Department of Transportation. San Juan County recognizes the park’s status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and considers the park to be a valuable cultural and economic resource. Since becoming the park’s designated primary access route, CR7950 has been the focus of an increasing number of requests for maintenance from park employees, area residents, and park visitors. In response to a growing number of requests from the public, the roadway requires an increasing amount of maintenance by County crews.

At the request of NMAC Members, documents relating to the needs analysis study are posted here. All files are in PDF format:

San Juan County Acceptance Letter -
Needs Assessment - Analysis of Changes in Road Use -
Entire Needs Analysis Study -

- Exploring the "Ghost Towns" of the Southwest: A ghost town is a place that is a shadow of its past glory. This can include everything from accessible historical towns — like Jerome, Ariz., or Calico, Calif. — to the ruins of forgotten mining towns, abandoned farm settlements or railroad stops that disappeared when the trains stopped coming. Towns that are remote, hard to gain access to and have very little remaining are known as "true ghosts," Underwood said. Todd Underwood of Prescott, Ariz., who hosts a Web site for ghost towners,, said he began ghost towning in 1976 with his father. "We were really fascinated as to how and why people would just up and leave towns. We were steeped in the mystery.

- Reminder, there is still time to Register for the Pecos Conference (August 7-10, Flagstaff Az).

Friday, July 25, 2008

Genetic Evidence on the Peopling of the Americas, Bill Before Congress would Support the NPS, and a Review of Thomas Sheridan's "Landscapes of Fraud."

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

- DNA points to Pre-Clovis Migrations into North and South America: After years of spirited debate over how and when people first reached the Americas, scientists finally seem poised to reach agreement. The emerging consensus: In contrast to what was long held as conventional wisdom, it now seems likely that the first Americans did not wait for ice sheets covering Canada to melt some 13,000 years ago, which would have allowed them to traipse south over solid ground. Instead, early nomads might well have traveled by boat or at least along the coast from Siberia to North America, perhaps navigating arctic waters near today's Bering Strait. The telltale evidence: ancient DNA from those early people that's been coaxed, by powerful analytical technology, into revealing its secret. - US News and World Report

- Mountain Bikers Ask You to Contact Your Representatives to Support our National Parks: The House of Representatives is preparing to vote on this bill and your voice is needed to make sure H.R. 3094 passes. At stake is a much-needed financial infusion in the National Park Service (NPS) that will enhance some of America's most treasured landscapes in time for the agency's 100th anniversary in 2016. H.R. 3094 is strongly supported by IMBA and a coalition of other conservation and recreation organizations.
Take Action! Time is running out. Ask your U.S. Representative to support H.R. 3094, the National Park Centennial Fund Act.

- Reception for National Trust for Historic Preservation Representatives in Phoenix: On July 29, come meet Kathy Adams and Lori Feinman of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at the historic Ellis-Shackelford House, 1242 N. Central Ave., Phoenix. Kathy and Lori will be in town on July 28-29 to tour convention facilities and representative historic sites and neighborhoods in the Valley. Phoenix is one of the two finalists to host the 2012 National Preservation Conference. Please RSVP to Jim McPherson:

- First Lady Announces New Preserve America Program: At the Preserve America Presidential Awards ceremony today, Mrs. Laura Bush, First Lady and Honorary Chair of Preserve America, announced the initiation of a new program: Preserve America Stewards, which will honor exemplary volunteer efforts at historic resources around the country. In Mrs. Bush’s announcement, she noted the program will recognize programs at the state, tribal, local, or regional level that have demonstrated a successful use of volunteer time and commitment in order to help care for our cultural heritage. Potential Preserve America Stewards programs apply to be recognized at the national level using an application form and guidance materials made available through the Preserve America Web site (

- Book Review: Thomas Sheridan's "Landscapes of Fraud: Mission Tumacácori, the Baca Float, and the Betrayal of the O'odham:" Government and banks have long colluded in wreaking havoc in the financial and real-estate markets--and among native peoples. And never has that collusion been so perfectly and depressingly detailed as in Thomas Sheridan's fascinating Landscapes of Fraud: Mission Tumacácori, the Baca Float, and the Betrayal of the O'odham. Not quite a historical page-turner à la Nicholson Baker's recent Human Smoke (a revisionist take on World War II as a senseless conflict), Sheridan's history is still pretty darn readable.

- Underwater Archaeological Studies of a Confederate Gunboat is the Latest Topic for the Archaeology Channel: On June 3, 1864, a boat force of the Confederate Navy during a daring raid captured the side-wheel steamer USS Water Witch and its crew of 65. The Confederate Navy later that year scuttled the ship in Georgia’s Vernon River to prevent its recapture. This video documents the ship’s rediscovery by remote sensing during an archaeological survey by the Georgia Department of Transportation preparatory to bridge construction. Significant underwater discoveries excite everyone, including both the professionals and the public. Water Witch: Traversing the Seas of History, the latest video feature on our nonprofit streaming-media Web site, The Archaeology Channel.

- Underwater Expedition to Study Submerged Potential Clovis Sites: C. Andrew Hemmings, research associate of the Texas Archaeological Research Laboratory (TARL) at The University of Texas at Austin, will lead an underwater archaeological expedition in the Gulf of Mexico to search for submerged evidence of the first Americans. Hemmings and James Adovasio, director of the Mercyhurst College Archaeological Institute in Erie, Pa., who serves as co-principal investigator of the project, will study ancient submerged coastlines in the northeastern Gulf to determine where early Americans, known as the Clovis culture, might have lived more than 12,000 years ago when the underwater terrain was dry land.

Thanks to Cherie Freeman, Melinda St Claire, and Terry Colvin for contributions to today's newsletter.

Monday, July 21, 2008

2008 Pecos Conference Going Web 2.0, ARCA Conference

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

- 2008 Pecos Conference Embraces Web 2.0 Technology (!) We are ready to go August 7-10, 2008. We have scheduled: campground facilities; an opening reception, advanced seminars, four plenary sessions (Cooperation & Collaboration, Databases, Early Farming, End of Clovis Meteorites & Megafauna Extinction); six workshops; eight site tours; a film festival; a Saturday night dinner; a beer bash and evening musical entertainment & dancing; a conference business meeting; and well-over sixty presentations from around the "greater southwest" (field reports; posters; speaker's corner). Introducing Digital Methods -- Customize & Enhance The Authentic Pecos Conference This is a direct appeal and an invitation -- Please come blog & film the 2008 Pecos Conference -- Bring your laptop. Bring your cellphone txt messaging. Bring your cellphone camera. Bring your video camera. Bring your digital camera. Take photos. Text message & blog to your friends, colleagues & students about the presentations. The annual and ever-changing content of the Pecos Conference has always faded away much too quickly, but with digital methods, your research content and opinions can be more widely shared and appreciated.

- - Conference Announcement, American Cultural Resource Association: The American Cultural Resource Assocation (ACRA) is holding its annual conference at the University Marriott in Tucson, September 25 to 28. ACRA is a trade association representing CRM companies across the country, including archaeologists, architects who work with historic buildings, landscape architects, geomorphologists, and all those affiliated with the industry. Organizational goals are to promote good business practices that benefit archaeology and the client, influence state and federal preservation policy, and provide professional training and education for members. Individuals from member and non-member companies are invited to register and attend the conference.

- University of Nevada Students Excavating in Historic Virginia City: For the next few weeks, 10 college students will be digging for answers in Virginia City. The University of Nevada's Anthropology Department is hoping students can unearth historical secrets from the time when Mark Twain called the Comstock home. Thursday was the second day of digging for the group and they're excited at what they're uncovering.

- Current Issue of Scientific American Focuses upon Prehistoric Migrations: Gary Stix discusses his July Scientific American cover article on DNA evidence for the history of human migration. - Scientific American Podcast

- Lecture Opportunity (Tucson) : AAHS Lecture, tonight, Monday, July 21, 7:30 PM DuVal Auditorium, University Medical Center 1501 N Campbell. Jesse Ballenger, Ph.D Candidate, University of Arizona will present " Naco, Arizona: Renewed Paleontological and Archaeological Prospecting on the U.S.-Mexico Border," at the monthly meeting of the Arizona Archaeological and Historical Society.

- Support Kiva, the Journal of Record for Southwestern Archaeology: While the deadline for the new Volume Year has passed, there is still time to join the Arizona Archaeological and Historical Society and receive the first issue of Volume year 74 on schedule for publication in the fall of 2008. AAHS members, if you've not renewed your membership, please send in your renewals soon so you don’t miss the upcoming new volume year.

Thanks to Bruce Wahle and Brian Kenny for contributions to Today's newsletter.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Athapaskan Migrations Traced with DNA Evidence, O'Odham Objections to Border Wall

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

- Genetic Analysis Traces Athapaskan Migrations: A large-scale genetic study of native North Americans offers new insights into the migration of a small group of Athapaskan natives from their subarctic home in northwest North America to the southwestern United States. The migration, which left no known archaeological trace, is believed to have occurred about 500 years ago. The study, led by researchers at the University of Illinois, is detailed this month in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology. It relied on a genetic analysis of the Y chromosome and so offers a window on the unique ancestral history of the male Athapaskan migrants. Previous genetic studies of this group focused on mitochondrial DNA, which is passed down exclusively from mothers to their offspring.

- Tohono O'odham Confront Federal Government over Border Fence: Calling it an affront to religious freedom, representatives of an Arizona Indian tribe have asked the federal government to halt construction of a border fence across the tribe's Arizona reservation. Leaders of the Tohono O'odham nation say the fence, currently being built along the U.S.-Mexican border by the Department of Homeland Security, will prevent members of their nation from crossing into Mexico for traditional religious ceremonies.

- Professor Larry J Zimmerman Honored for Being Years Ahead of NAGPRA: An Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) professor’s early career decision to rebury Native American human remains – an act then considered academic suicide – recently earned the professor international recognition for significant contributions to world archaeology. The World Archaeological Congress awarded its inaugural Peter J. Ucko Memorial Award to Larry J. Zimmerman, anthropology and museum studies professor in the School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI. Zimmerman is also jointly appointed with the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art as the Public Scholar of Native American Representation. Four Native American archaeologists nominated Zimmerman in recognition of his role in indigenous archaeology and for “paving the way for a generation of Native Americans to believe we could join this profession without having to sacrifice our deeply help moral beliefs about our rights and responsibilities as Indigenous people,” says Smithsonian Institution Repatriation Officer Dr. Dorothy Lippert, one of the nominating group.

- Conference Announcement: 15TH Biennial Mogollon Archaeology Conference, October 2 Through October 4, 2008. Western New Mexico University Museum will host the 14th Mogollon Archaeology Conference October, 2 through October 4 in Silver City, New Mexico on the campus of Western New Mexico University.

- Vandals Ruin Ancient Places: Thousands of Nevada's most historic sites are under attack. They have been around for hundreds of years, but one day of off-roading or partying can turn our history into dust -- everything from ancient petroglyphs on rock walls to the smallest pot shards carried hundreds of miles from the Grand Canyon. The people who deface the ancient art and the ones driving over burial sites try to make a sport of their reckless pastime. But even if you don't know what you're destroying, you could be one of history's vandals.

- Hopi Chairman Speaks on the Importance of Mt. Taylor: Hopi Tribal Chairman Benajmin H. Nuvamsa, of the Hopi Bear Clan, said it was his responsibility to speak for the tribal government and the Hopi’sinmuy, or Hopi people, in expressing appreciation to the committee. He added that the Hopi Tribe has long recommended that Mount Taylor, or Tsiiplya, be considered important as a natural and cultural part of the human environment.

- Archaeologists in Mexico Locate American Soldier's Remains: Skeletal remains of four soldiers who are believed to have perished at the Battle of Monterey were found within a mass grave. DNA testing and repatriation are planned for the near future. - Associated Press via Earthlink

- Archaeology Fair to be Held August 16th in Showlow: On Saturday August 16th a unique event will be coming to the White Mountains: the first Northeastern Arizona Archaeology Fair. Patterned after the popular Arizona Archaeology Expo, held each March during Archaeology and Heritage Awareness Month, the fair will offer many educational attractions for archaeology and history buffs as well as hands-on educational activities for kids. This event is FREE and open to the public. It will be held in the park at Torreon Centre (behind the Coffee Connection) in Show Low from 10:00 am – 4:00 pm. The Fair will feature professional archaeologist who will give talks, have exhibits on recent research, present demonstrations on early Native American life ways, explain archaeological methods and theory, and provide hands-on educational activities for children. Agencies represented are the United States Forest Service, National Park Service, Arizona State Historic Preservation Office, Arizona State Parks, Arizona Site Stewards and private consulting firms. The Fair will give visitors new insights into Arizona’s many prehistoric, historic and contemporary cultures and will help instill a sense of stewardship for our state’s nonrenewable heritage resources. We are still looking for folks who would like to be presenters, exhibitors and volunteers. If you have the day free and want to be part of this exciting event please contact Cheryl Ford, Program Coordinator at 928-205-3188. This event is being supported by AZ SHPO

- Expansion of Visitor's Center at Little Bighorn Delayed: In an effort to provide an all-weather setting for ranger talks and access for disabled visitors who want to view the battlefield's introductory film, the Park Service had proposed to expand the current visitor center at the foot of Last Stand Hill. Although no drawings of the proposed expansion were available, Park Service officials said it would enclose an outdoor patio and extend the north wall to the sidewalk, all on the footprint of the existing center. But opponents, including some of the premier historians of the American West and many former Park Service officials, argued that expanding the visitor center is contrary to a long-established management plan that calls for removal of the current visitor center from the heart of the battleground.

- San Pedro River Hike will Explore Boston Mill Ruin: Join Friends of the San Pedro River for a hike in the Boquillas section of the San Pedro National Conservation Area July 19. This hike begins at the historic Boquillas Ranch and heads south to the ruins of Boston Mill. Explore the stonework foundation of this 19th century ore-processing mill. The return hike will be along the river with plenty of opportunities for viewing wildlife. This hike is 8 miles long and is rated moderately difficult. It will depart from the Fairbank parking lot, junction State Route 82 and the San Pedro River, at 7:00am. Bring drinking water, snacks and sun protection. The fee is $5 per person and all funds go to support educational programs of the Friends. For more information, call 520.459.2555. - The Douglas Dispatch.

Thanks to Adrianne Rankin and Cherie Freeman for contributing to today's newsletter.

Monday, July 14, 2008

More on Possible Clovis Era Comet Impact, Revisions to ARPA May Increase Jail Time for Archaeological Crime.

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

- New Findings Support Clovis-Era Comet Catastrophe: Was the course of life on the planet altered 12,900 years ago by a giant comet exploding over Canada? New evidence found by University of Cincinnati Assistant Professor of Anthropology Ken Tankersley and colleagues suggests the answer is affirmative. Geological evidence found in Ohio and Indiana in recent weeks is strengthening the case to attribute what happened 12,900 years ago in North America - when the end of the last Ice Age unexpectedly turned into a phase of extinction for animals and humans - to a cataclysmic comet or asteroid explosion over top of Canada.

- Revisions to the Archaeological Resources Protection Act now Before Congress: Resolution S. 1860- Violent Crime Control Act, Sponsored by Sen. Cornyn (R-TX), is now pending before Senate Judiciary Committee. The legislation contains a provision to move the Archaeological Resources Protection Act (ARPA) to Title 18 of the United States Code. This makes forfeiture and restitution easier. The bill also increases the penalties to ten years for a first offense and 20 years for a second offense and appears to lengthen the statute of limitations to 20 years. Similar legislation was introduced in previous Congresses. The companion measure, H.R. 3156, is identical and is pending before the House Financial Services Committee.

- Tainted Soil and Witchcraft Accusations Delay Construction of Navajo Casino: Soil from an archaeological site within Churchrock Chapter has inadvertently been used for fill at the site for the Navajo Nation's first casino, and the Resources Committee says proper clearances were not obtained. "My understanding is that the casino is going to come to a halt probably this week as far as the activities over there," Resources Chairman George Arthur told the committee Thursday. "They don't have a clearance — they have nothing that Resources Committee approved. I guess what they are going by is what Churchrock Chapter approved." However, one chapter official says the delay might be because of witchcraft.

- Waco City Council Appears Ready to Properly Fund Archaeological Mitigation for Texas Ranger Museum: The city of Waco is poised to give an Austin firm $433,000 more to study and clear gravesites around the new Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum office annex, pushing the project’s archaeology cost up to nearly $1.2 million. The Waco City Council on Tuesday will consider the contract amendment for PBS&J, which has been excavating and analyzing bones found in the path of utility lines the city is trying to run to the new buildings. - Waco Tribune Herald

- Arizona SHPO Creates New Guide to Tribal Consultation: The Arizona State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) is pleased to announce a new guide to tribal consultation under the National Historic Preservation Act. This document may also be downloaded at the at the link provided below. f you have any questions about this document, please feel free to contact Ann Howard, at the Arizona SHPO office. Ann Valdo Howard, Public Archaeology Programs Manager and Archaeological Compliance Specialist, State Historic Preservation Office, Arizona State Parks, 1300 W. Washington, Phoenix, AZ 85007. (602) 542-7138 (work), (602) 542-4180 (fax)

- Obituary for Hartman Lomawaima Published in Tucson Citizen: "Hartman was one of the few people who knew how to work on something tirelessly for 30 years, ensuring that museums were places where Native American voices were heard and respected," said Nancy Parezo, a UA professor of American Indian Studies and longtime colleague of Lomawaima's.

- Editor's Note, on Hartman's Passing: Many people have written Southwestern Archaeology Today asking where cards or other notes of sympathy may be sent. If you would like to send such a message to the Arizona State Museum, or Hartman's wife Tsianina, the appropriate address is Arizona State Museum, attn: Tsianian Hartman (or) ASM Staff, PO Box 210026, Tucson AZ 85721-0026.

- Artifacts Encountered During Park Construction in Marana, Az: Preliminary work on a new 58-acre park along the Santa Cruz River in southern Marana has been halted after the discovery of prehistoric artifacts. Town officials say that the work stoppage is only temporary, and that it will not affect the planned summer 2009 opening of Silverbell-Cortaro District Park, which will be on the east side of North Silverbell Road between North Cortaro and West Ina roads.

- Travelogue: Hassle-Free Heritage Tourism at Canyon de Chelly: Strange formations dot Canyon de Chelly, along with petroglyph carvings and pictograph drawings created by ancient races. While the major national parks draw millions of visitors each year, Canyon de Chelly draws only about 825,000 visitors annually. And while temperatures throughout the Southwest often soar during August and September, the temperature in Canyon de Chelly is generally moderate. It should be - the floor of the canyon is more than a mile above sea level and humidity levels are typically in single digits.

- Internship Opportunity: Fall 2008 Collections Management Intern, Anasazi State Park Museum, Boulder, Utah. The Intern will assist the museum curator with various projects related to cataloging new acquisitions, completion of condition reports and measurements, physical application of numbers onto the objects, photographing objects, housing of material, and entry into the collection database. The internship will also familiarize the intern with projects and duties in all areas of a state park museum. The intern will spend a certain amount of time in other areas of the museum including visitor services: Provide visitors with area information, fee and gift shop sales collection. However, the focus of the internship will be a specific project in collections management. The project involves cataloging a new accession of prehistoric projectile points. The collection of objects is cataloged in the Re:discovery collections management software system. Qualifications: Must have completed at least one year of graduate college coursework in museum studies, anthropology, or archaeology. A background in Southwest or Great Basin archaeology is preferred with experience in lithic analysis. Computer literacy: Microsoft Office, Adobe Products, Re:discovery Basic photography skills, including use of a digital camera. Employment Period: 10 weeks @ 40 hours per week, August through October. Salary: $75 a week with housing provided. How to apply: Please fax, email or mail your resume with three professional references to the address listed below by August 2, 2008. If you have additional questions please contact:
Don Montoya, Museum Curator, Anasazi State Park Museum. PO Box 1429, Boulder, UT 84716, Phone: (435) 335-7308 Fax:, (435) 335-7352.

Thanks to Gerry Cantley and Brian Kenny for contributions to today's newsletter.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Arizona State Museum Director Hartman Lomawaima Passes, The Gault Site

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

- Arizona State Museum Director Hartman Lomawaima Passes: Hartman H. Lomawaima, director of the Arizona State Museum, died Tuesday in Tucson after an 11-month battle with colon cancer, which he fought with great determination. He was 58. Mr. Lomawaima was the 115-year-old museum's sixth director and the first Native American in that post. He became associate director in 1984, stepped up to interim director in 2002 and in 2004 was named director of the museum at the west edge of the University of Arizona campus.

- Newspaper lists Phoenix Locations to Explore Arts of the Ancient World: Native American artifacts are all around us. Here are some places in the Valley to admire and ponder the work and dwellings of the native people. South Mounatin petroglyphs, Hohokam Indians who inhabited the Salt River Valley over a thousand years ago created an al fresco art gallery for us in what is now the South Mountain Preserve. The hundreds of petroglyphs that cover the rock faces in the canyons are visible to visitors even away from the hiking trails. - Arizona Republic

- Excavations at the Gault Site Refine our Views of the First Americans: Peck, sorting soil that had been disturbed by a recent thunderstorm, is a volunteer looking for artifacts in the Gault Valley in central Texas, some 40 miles (65 kilometers) north of Austin. The valley hasn't changed much over the last several thousand years: A spring-fed creek still runs among live oaks and pecan trees, jackrabbits and deer still live on the nearby uplands, and cobbles of chert, ideal for making stone tools, still bulge from the valley's limestone walls. Today, however, instead of working hides and shaping stones as they did 13,000 years ago, humans painstakingly sift the soil in search of ancient artifacts that will overturn long-held assumptions about the earliest Americans.

- Lecture Canceled at Anasazi Heritage Center: Dr. Tessie Naranjo's program "Protecting and Preserving Pueblo Culture" scheduled for Sunday, July 13 at the Anasazi Heritage Center has been canceled. The AHC apologizes for any inconvenience this may cause and hope that they might be able to reschedule at another date.

- "The Shovel Bum" Back on the Archaeology Channel " The life of an itinerant archaeological field technician alternates memorable thrills with spells of boredom, proud accomplishment with tedious frustration, and takes lots of just plain work. See more about how this plays out as the T-Bone saga of fieldwork life continues in Shovel Bum in Alaska, the latest video feature on our nonprofit streaming-media Web site, The Archaeology Channel

Thanks to Melinda St. Clair for Contributing to Today's Newsletter

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Excavation Blogs, New Early Dates for Maize in Mexico, Post Fieldwork Catch-Up

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

- University of Michigan Undergraduate Research Opportunities at Homol'ovi Creating a Live Journal Blog: The Homol’ovi Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program or HUROP is an archaeological research project at the Homol’ovi Ruins State Park in northeastern Arizona. College students from all over the country participate in excavations at an archaeological site and then share what they are learning with the public. This blog is an example of this process.

- UCLA Presents Excavation Blogs from Fourteen Field Research Programs: UCLA’s archaeology institute and its study abroad office have teamed up to send students to field digs around the world. They’ll excavate mummies in Chile’s Atacama Desert, comb the jungle near the remains of an Indian village in Panama, and map ancient graves in Albania. Best of all, these intrepid Bruins, some of their field advisers and students joining the digs from other colleges will send back dispatches about their adventures throughout the month of July. The Summer Digs blog will feature their travel notes here, thanks to the collaboration among the Cotsen Institute of Archaeology, UCLA’s International Education Office, UCLA Magazine and UCLA Today.

- Recent Findings On the Domestication of Maize may Push Domestication back to 8000 BCE: The ancestors of maize originally grew wild in Mexico and were radically different from the plant that is now one of the most important crops in the world. While the evidence is clear that maize was first domesticated in Mexico, the time and location of the earliest domestication and dispersal events are still in dispute. Now, in addition to more traditional macrobotanical and archeological remains, scientists are using new genetic and microbotanical techniques to distinguish domesticated maize from its wild relatives as well as to identify ancient sites of maize agriculture. These new analyses suggest that maize may have been domesticated in Mexico as early as 10,000 years ago.

- Utah State University Plans to Open Cultural Resource Management Firm and Offer Masters Program in Archaeology and CRM: Utah State University is taking steps to launch a master’s degree concentration in archeology and cultural resource management — a growing field, particularly in Utah. On Friday, the USU Board of Trustees unanimously supported the program, which would be housed in the Department of Sociology, Social Work & Anthropology. The State Board of Regents must still vote on the degree.,5143,700239539,00.html

- Unearthing an Ancient City: The white-colored outlines of rectangular shapes could very well be the markings of a construction site, albeit one that was undertaken more than 700 years ago. “You see the artifacts on the surface, that lets us know we have a site,” said Debbie Swartz, an archaeologist with Desert Archaeology. Those outlines mark the walls of a Hohokam pit house, part of an ancient city that was uncovered by archaeologists in mid-April at the site of a major road and park project in Marana. - Northwest Explorer

- Utah Reexamines Cultural Heritage Tourism: Cultural heritage tourism has become one of the fastest growing segments of the tourism market. More and more tourists are seeking out places where history, local culture and home-grown flavor come together to make them unique. "Studies by the Travel Industry of America show that it is the No. 1 reason people travel — especially people in the 35-54 age group," says Wilson Martin, Utah State historic preservation officer and a member of the state's Cultural Heritage Council.,5143,700239687,00.html

- New Issue of Crow Canyon E-Newsletter: This e-mail is to inform you that the Crow Canyon Archaeological Center’s e-Newsletter is out. Our feature story, “Investigation of Belt-Loop Road Begins,” explains that Crow Canyon researchers will be investigating an ancient road—part of the largest known road network in southwestern Colorado—as part of Phase II of the six-year Goodman Point Archaeological Project. Also in this issue: The “Pueblo Farming Project Update” detailing the planting of four gardens as part of our Pueblo Farming Project, a collaborative project designed to help Crow Canyon researchers understand ancestral Pueblo Indian agricultural practices.

- Grant Opportunity in Historic Preservation: The James Marston Fitch Charitable Foundation will award a research grant up to $25,000 to midcareer professionals who have an advanced or professional degree and at least 10 years experience in historic preservation or related fields, including architecture, landscape architecture, architectural conservation, urban design, environmental planning, archaeology, architectural history, and the decorative arts. Additional smaller grants, up to $10,000, are made at the discretion of the Trustees. The grants are intended to support projects of innovative original research or creative design that advance the practice of historic preservation in the U.S. The application deadline is September 19, 2008. Contact: Erin Tobin, Executive Director, at

- California Series in Public Anthropology Offers Contest Funding Publication for two Books: The University of California Press, in association with the Center for a Public Anthropology, is sponsoring two international competitions focused on encouraging anthropologically inclined authors to address major public problems and broad audiences. Both competitions will award book contracts at early stages in the research/writing process. The hope is that anauthor, knowing that he or she has a book contract in hand prior to conducting research or writing a manuscript, will move beyond academic styles and write about a major public concern in a manner that non-academics find valuable.

- Clarification of the Law and Archaeological Impacts of Collecting Projectile Points: Arecent reader submission to The Spectrum's editorial department raised several questions regarding the legality and practice of the collection of prehistoric artifacts - specifically, gathering arrowheads from the ground surface. We hope to offer readers some clarity regarding this issue. Federal law prohibits removing arrowheads or any other cultural resources from public land under penalty of law for theft. Even though the 1979 Archaeological Resources Protection Act (ARPA) exempted arrowheads from the penalties section, there are many other laws that prohibit collection of any cultural artifacts. - The Spectrum

- Reminder: There is still time to register for the Pecos Conference.

- Travelogue, Leaving Sedona for Authentic Ancient Places: It seemed that Sedona, Ariz., had received too much advance publicity when we visited earlier this year. The hype - "a mesmerizing experience," "breathtaking monoliths," "spectacular scenery," "the most beautiful setting in America," "a once in a lifetime experience" - made it sound like an instant Venture Bound story, but it was hard to get a handle on what to say about it. We found our story south of Sedona at Montezuma Well and Montezuma Castle. Leaving Interstate 17, we followed another car five miles over a winding dusty road, always managing to stay far enough behind so we could see the road, but not far enough to keep our rental car from becoming coated with a thick layer of dust.

- (Mesoamerica) Mayan Settlement in Puuc Region may be Much Older than Previously Believed: he classic Maya were part of a Central American civilization best known for stepped pyramids, beautiful carvings and murals and the widespread abandonment of cities around 900 A.D. in southern Mexico, Guatemala, Belize and El Salvador, leaving the Maya only the northern lowlands of the Yucatan peninsula. The conventional wisdom of this upheaval is that many Maya moved north at the time of this collapse, also colonizing the hilly "Puuc" region of the Yucatan for a short while, until those new cities collapsed as well. But that story of the Maya is wrong, suggests archaeologist George Bey of Millsaps College in Jackson, Miss., who is co-leading an investigation of the abandoned city of Kiuic with Mexican archaeologist Tomas Gallareta of Mexico's National Institute of Archaeology and History. "Our work indicates that instead the Puuc region was occupied for almost 2,000 years before the collapse in the south," says Bey, by e-mail. - USA Today

- (Mesoamerica) Engineer Examines Ancient Musical Instruments: Scientists were fascinated by the ghostly find: a human skeleton buried in an Aztec temple with a clay, skull-shaped whistle in each bony hand. But no one blew into the noisemakers for nearly 15 years. When someone finally did, the shrill, windy screech made the spine tingle. If death had a sound, this was it. Roberto Velazquez believes the Aztecs played this mournful wail from the so-called Whistles of Death before they were sacrificed to the gods. - AP, via Wired

- Employment Opportunity (Tucson): The Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research ( ) at The University of Arizona, Tucson, seeks applicants for a Curator of Collections. Possible areas of specialization include dendrochronology, anthropology, archaeology, museum studies, natural science curation, or related fields. We seek a scholar with a strong record of research or creative scholarship and experience in scientific collections management. Applicant review begins 01 August 2008, for an expected start date of 01 January 2009, and continues until position is filled. Candidates will need to fill an on-line application, attach a letter of interest, curriculum vitae, publication(s), and names and contact information for three referees at For further information, please contact Dr. Jeffrey Dean at jdean|@| The University of Arizona is an EEO/AA - M/W/V/D.

- Employment Opportunity (Washington DC Metro Area): The Advisory Council on Historic Preservation Seeks an Archaeologist or Historic Preservation Specialist. This position serves as a Liaison to the Army from the ACHP. The United States Department of the Army (Army) carries out a wide array of land management activities that affect historic properties in a wide variety of ways. The Army Liaison serves on the ACHP staff as a point of contact for handling program review activities under the Army Program Manager.

Thanks to Brian Kenny and Gerald Kelso for Contributions to Today's Newsletter