Thursday, July 23, 2009

Starch Grain Analysis, New Curation Facility at MNA, Casa Grande Expansion

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

- Starch Grain Analysis Offering New Insights on Ancient Agriculture: University of Missouri researchers have studied the residues from gourds and squash artifacts that date back to 2200 B.C. and recovered starch grains from manioc, potato, chili pepper, arrowroot and algarrobo. "Archaeological starch grain research allows us to gain a better understanding of how ancient humans used plants, the types of food they ate, and how that food was prepared,"

- New Curation Facility at the Museum of Northern Arizona Honors the Past: It's rarely news when a museum opens a new collections facility. Who gets excited about a warehouse? But given the opportunity to design and construct a new storage facility for the Museum of Northern Arizona, we saw a way to honor our commitment to our collection, demonstrate the respect we have for the objects and, more importantly, the people who made them; and show our commitment to quality, sustainability and beauty. The result is our $7 million Easton Collection Center, which opened late last month in the heart of the museum's research complex. The 17,283-square-foot facility is across U.S. 180 from our museum, 3 miles north of downtown Flagstaff. - The Arizona Republic

- Federal Appeals Court Approves Oil and Gas Drilling Leases Near Ancient and Historic Utah Sites: A federal appeals board has cleared the way for oil and gas drilling around prehistoric ruins in southern Utah. In the same ruling, the Interior Board of Land Appeals found that federal officials also took appropriate care in deciding to lease another parcel near northern Utah's Golden Spike National Historic Site. The Arlington, Va.-based board rejected an appeal filed by the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance in a 15-page decision dated Wednesday. The wilderness group had challenged 15 of the lease parcels sold at a November 2006 lease auction of public lands in Salt Lake City.

- Interior Secretary Declares 2 Year Moratorium on Uranium Mining on Arizona Strip: After carefully considering the issue of uranium mining near Grand Canyon National Park, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar has decided to segregate nearly 1 million acres of federal lands in the Arizona Strip for two years while the Department evaluates whether to withdraw these lands from new mining claims for an additional 20 years. - Arizona Republic

- Preservation Archaeology at Casa Grande: Andy Laurenzi at the Center for Dessert Archaeology has been working with an incredible prehistoric structure in Arizona. In this week's Blog from the Field learn about Casa Grande Ruins National Monument and how Andy and others are working to preserve this monument and its surrounding landscape.

- Economic Benefits of an Expanded Casa Grande National Monument: The proposed boundary expansion of the Casa Grande Ruins not only protects the larger, regional picture of the Hohokam culture, but also boosts the local economy by attracting additional tourists to the city. It may surprise you, but one of the most promising economic prospects for the city of Coolidge is the Casa Grande Ruins National Monument. Work is currently underway to extend the amount of time tourists spend at the Ruins. - Tri Valley Central

- Utah Tribes Seek to Stop Development of Village Site: Tribes in Utah are speaking out against a proposal to develop a commuter rail stop on what was once an American Indian village. In March, Gov. Jon Huntsman signed a bill paving the way for a possible land swap and the subsequent development of the Utah Transit Authority's FrontRunner stop and a surrounding private development. The five tribes in Utah said Wednesday they plan to deliver resolutions to the governor's office opposing the project in Draper, about 20 miles south of Salt Lake City.

- The Myth of the Disappearing Anasazi: Archaeologists have many theories about what happened to them. Indeed, there is always a new theory concerning the Anasazi. Personally, I do not understand why we need any theory at all. The ruins are all around us. The Indians are all around us. If you ask them where the ancient ones went, they'll say: They went nowhere. They are us. We are their descendants. We honor them and continue their religious practices. There are many changes of course, but clouds also change continuously. - Durango Herald

- Recreational Use of Sacred Sites Versus Traditional Spirituality: Randy Luden scaled a mountain of boulders etched with dozens of petroglyphs that could be thousands of years old, hoping to get as close as possible to the records of a past civilization. Linda Otero, a Fort Mojave council woman, told him he shouldn’t have climbed on top of the glyphs because they were holy.

- "Anasazi Sickness:" Here in Four Corners Indian Country, though, the cultural riches that federal authorities allege 24 traffickers plundered and peddled from public lands are anything but souvenirs. "We aren't supposed to be digging up anything like that," Navajo medicine man David Filfred says. "It's the people who lived before us, and how they lived. They had their traditions, which deserve respect." And disrespect for either human remains or the ancients' belongings brings deadly bad medicine. According to tribal lore, it can lead to bad luck, ill health, even death.

- Hohokam Pit Structures Found Near Interstate 19 Construction: Archeologists have discovered 15 prehistoric Hohokam dwellings in an area that will soon be covered by an extension of the Interstate 19 east frontage road, but the find shouldn’t cause major delays to the much-anticipated construction project. Two sites along I-19 are being evaluated for possible excavation, said Roger Anyon, program manager for the Pima County Cultural Resources and Historic Preservation Office.

A Visit to the Tohono O'odham Cultural Center: Ten miles or so south of Sells is the Himdag Ki: HekÄ­hu, Hemu, Im B I-Ha'ap. This is the Way of Life House: Past, Present, and Into the Future, also known as the Tohono O'odham Nation's Cultural Center and Museum. Opened two years ago, the remote site for the project was determined by a 2003 vote of tribal members. Paid for by the nation through casino proceeds, the $15 million complex was designed by the Durrant Group of Tucson.

- Ancient Maya Practiced Forest Conservation 3,000 Years Ago: As published in the July issue of the Journal of Archaeological Science, paleoethnobotanist David Lentz of the University of Cincinnati has concluded that not only did the Maya people practice forest management, but when they abandoned their forest conservation practices it was to the detriment of the entire Maya culture.

- Lecture Opportunity (Delores Co): Rock art scholar Sally Cole will discuss a new approach to ancient rock art at the Anasazi Heritage Center on Sunday, July 26 at 1:00 PM. Museum admission will be free all day. The Bureau of Land Management Anasazi Heritage Center is three miles west of Dolores on State Highway 184, and is open daily from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM. The normal adult entry fee of $3 will be waived on July 26. For more information, call the Center at (970)882-5600, or visit the web site at

- Lecture Opportunity (Aztec NM): Center for Desert Archaeology Chaco Scholar Paul Reed will present "The Diversity of Chacoan Society" at Aztec Ruins National Monument, 7:00 Pm on July 31.

- Employment Opportunity (Tempe): Starting immediately, ACS is looking to hire Field Archaeologists and Field Technicians for work in the Coolidge area (no per diem or lodging) for up to several months and possibly for a few weeks for the Yuma area (per diem and lodging provided). Those interested in applying should check the Employment section of the ACS website ( for additional information on the positions. Interested parties should send a current resume with a cover letter identifying the level at which they wish to be considered and the names and phone numbers/e-mail addresses of three references who can comment on your experience to: Please include the name of the position you are applying for in the subject line of your e-mail.

Thanks to Carrie Gregory and Adrianne Rankin for contributions to today's newsletter.