Monday, March 30, 2009

New Early Dates for Maize Domestication, Correction on Border Fence Article

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

- New Dates for Maize Domestication in the New World: Among the hundreds of plants that have been domesticated in the New World, none has received as much attention or been subject to as much debate as corn, or maize (Zea mays L.), arguably the most important crop of the Americas. Controversies have existed for years over what the wild ancestor of maize is and where and when it was domesticated. An international team of scientists led by Dolores Piperno, archaeobotanist at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History, and Anthony Ranere, professor of anthropology at Temple University in Philadelphia, have discovered the first direct evidence that indicates maize was domesticated by 8,700 years ago, the earliest date recorded for the crop. The research findings will be published March 23 in the journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

- Research Suggests that the Adoption of Agriculture can be Found in Domestic Faunal Remains: Unraveling the origins of agriculture in different regions around the globe has been a challenge for archeologists. Now researchers writing in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences report finding evidence of early human experiments with grain cultivation in East Asia. They gathered this information from an unlikely source―dog and pig bones.

- Correction and Update to Last Week's Story on Border Fence Excavation, by Jackson Underwood: The article in SW Archaeology Today about the Border Barrier Archaeological Project originally appeared in City Beat, a weekly San Diego Newspaper. The undercover reporter did a good job covering this large, low profile excavation. The most glaring inaccuracy is the cited budget, $3 million is a bit over $2 million too generous. Of course, we could use the extra money. Nancy Parish, ACOE Archaeologist at Ft. Worth and other ACOE folks have been very understanding and helpful throughout the process. One of the main challenges to the excavation, was that the fence itself was a design-build contract. That is, the construction plan, project footprint, schedule, etc., were subject to change as the project went forward. We had to be pretty flexible and nimble to stay on that wave. Also, the main players and roles were not made clear in the article. Dr. Claude Warren is my co-Principal Investigator; Mark Peterson is our stats and systems guru, Richard Shultz is our Field Director and Lab Director, and Sandy Scheneeberger is Project Manager. The prime contractor is Sandy's company, Golden State Environmental of Whittier, California. RECON is a sub to her.
Cheers, Dr. Jackson Underwood, R.P.A.

- Development and CRM Practice Collide at Historic Cemeteries: Construction crews expanding the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum here were surprised when, while burrowing utility lines, they dug up a human bone. Then another. Then a coffin. Then an entire field of human remains. The crews had stumbled onto an unmarked cemetery, with some coffins dating back to the mid-1800s. The $2 million project is currently stalled, awaiting approval from federal historical regulators.

- Virtual Pueblos and Traditional Maize Agriculture at Crow Canyon: Ancestors of the Mesa Verde region's Puebloan people are helping researchers gain insight into the area's sustainable farming practices. Two Hopi farmers with the Hopi Cultural Preservation Office, Donald Dawahongnewa and Marvin Lalo, shared their experiences with a standing-room-only crowd at the Crow Canyon Archeological Center near Cortez this month as part of the Pueblo Farming Project. As a descendant of Ancestral Puebloans, Dawahongnewa said growing corn is a strong tradition that was handed down to him through the ages. - Cortez Journal

- Tularosa Basin Conference Scheduled for May 8-10: A number of local historical societies and archaeologists are organizing a first-ever major conference to bring the wealth of scientific findings in archaeology and anthropology in the Tularosa Basin to the public. The group already has a Web site, an opening evening chuck wagon dinner and keynote speaker, the Tularosa Community Center for a full day of professional presentations, and tours of local sites lined up for the weekend planned for early May.

- Archeaoastronomy Conference Agenda Set: To mark the International Year of Astronomy 2009, and to provide a forum to promote research and a better understanding of the cultural significance of astronomical knowledge among American Southwest cultures, we are inaugurating a biennial Conference on Archaeoastronomy of the American Southwest. June 11-13, 2009, will mark the first conference with the theme "Creating Sustainability in American Southwest Archaeoastronomy Research." This conference will be held in Camp Verde, Arizona.

- Learning About the Contact Period from the Teeth of Columbus Crew Members: The adage that dead men tell no tales has long been disproved by archaeology. Now, however, science is taking interrogation of the dead to new heights. In a study that promises fresh and perhaps personal insight into some of the earliest European visitors to the New World, a team or researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison is extracting the chemical details of life history from the teeth of crew members Christopher Columbus left on the island of Hispaniola after his second voyage to America in 1493-94.

- Interesting Lecture Series at Prescott's Sharlot Hall Musuem: The museum’s Humanities Lecture Series delves into two intriguing and engaging topics in its upcoming lectures on Sunday, April 5th and Sunday, May 3rd 2009. On Sunday, April 5th at 1:00 p.m Christy Hastings discusses the medical resources that were available to the early settlers of Prescott in a lecture titled “Every Man His Own Physician: Frontier Medicine or What to Do Before You Called the Doctor.” Hastings will recount the story of Celia Sanders and how she treated her son’s gunshot wound on the trail in 1864 en route to Prescott. Her lecture will also explain various medical practices of the time and the contents of a generic “medicine box.” - Read It News

- Utah Pottery Project Displays Findings in Cedar City: Utah's pioneer past will be on display this spring at the Mission State Park Museum in Cedar City, courtesy of a Michigan Technological University archaeologist who is unearthing 19th century pottery in the area. Potters helped build a society in a desert, Tim Scarlett said in announcing the team's research under way at 45 sites in 26 Utah towns from Logan to St. George and from Panguitch to Vernal.,5143,705293520,00.html

- Lawmakers Need Education in Native American History: lack of knowledge about American Indian history hinders politicians as they deal with issues important to Arizona's tribes, a Navajo lawmaker said Wednesday. "We need to educate them on the foundations of native governments," Sen. Albert Hale, D-Window Rock, said as the Legislature's Native American Caucus held its first meeting. "We can step forward and be an example of how we can deal with these issues in Arizona."

- Archaeological Petrography Field School Opportunity: This field school is designed to familiarize students with an archaeological view of quarry (stone procurement) sites and stone tool technology in the North American Southwest, by a field examination of obsidian, chert, and other volcanic sources used for the last 13,000 years. Through in-the-field classroom and field sessions, students will learn field collection strategies, sampling, mapping the secondary distribution of sources, geological and topographical map reading, field portable XRF, and an introduction to the identification of rocks in the field. The course will involve a week or more camping in the Jemez Mountains, northern New Mexico, and Mule Creek in western New Mexico, and other trips from the base in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Thanks to Adriaane Rankin for contributions to today's newsletter.