Thursday, October 29, 2009

Theory on Possible Clovis-Era Comet Impact Discounted

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

- Archaeologists Discount Possibility of Clovis-Era Comet Impact: A comet impact didn't set off a 1,300-year cold snap that wiped out most life in North America about 12,900 years ago, scientists say. Though no one disputes the occurrence of the frigid period, known as the Younger Dryas, more and more researchers have been unable to confirm a 2007 finding that says a collision triggered the change. Nicholas Pinter, a geologist at Southern Illinois University, argued that black mats described as charcoal in the 2007 research weren't actually charcoal. Instead they were from ancient, dark soil formed in a long-ago wetland, Pinter said. - National Geographic

- University of Vermont Studies at Fourmile Ruin: If you thought digging in the dirt stopped being a suitable summer activity in sixth grade, think again. For four weeks this July, seven UVM undergrads and two teaching assistants joined Scott Van Keuren, assistant professor of anthropology, on an excavation at Fourmile Ruin, the largest Ancestral Pueblo, or Anasazi village, in Eastern Arizona.

- Arizona Book Sale Offering Some Very Special Items to Benefit the Arizona State Museum Anthropology Library: "You can't read this book without thinking of people" wrote one reviewer of Anna Sherpard's "Ceramics for the Archaeologist." A first edition of that book, once owned by Emil Haury, sold this past weekend at the Arizona Archaeological and Historical Society's used book sale. The sale continues! We have books once owned by Emil Haury and other Southwest legends for sale and silent auction. Here's a small sample: Reeve Ruin, Kiva Murals, Medallion Papers, Old Orabi, Swartz Ruin, Amerind Series, Pendleton Ruin, Excavation of Hawikuh, Red-on-buff Culture of the Gila Basin, Roosevelt:9:6, and many, many more. Missing an issue of Kiva or American Antiquity? We have some. The sale also includes other individually priced items with an emphasis on the archaeology and anthropology of the Southwest, Mexico, and South America. Sale will be held Saturday, Oct 31 at the Arizona State Museum, 9am - 12 pm.

- Anza Days Riders in Nogales Honor Historic Spanish Expedition to Found San Francisco: Horses clopped down Morley Avenue on Saturday, carrying riders dressed to recall the journey of Juan Bautista de Anza and his soldiers and settlers from Sonora to San Francisco in 1775-1776. It was the first Anza Day parade in Nogales and the number of riders fell short of what organizers had anticipated. But they traveled a paved stretch of the national historic trail that was dedicated only a year ago on Oct. 11, 2008. - Nogales International

Monday, October 26, 2009

Hopi Artists Michael Kabotie Passes

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

- Michael Kabotie Passes: A famous northeastern Arizona artist from the Hopi tribe has died in Flagstaff from complications of the H1N1 flu. Michael Kabotie passed away on Friday at the Flagstaff Medical Center. The 67-year-old was a renowned painter silversmith and poet. Among his many artist creations is a a gate that looks like a piece of overlay jewelry at the Heard Museum in Phoenix.

- Historic Ranch in McElmo Canyon Divided, Subdivided, and then Auctioned Away: How did this happen? Seven thousand acres of ground — the desert part replete with pristine Anasazi ruins, the mountain land set deep in the National Forest — on the auction block, in an absolute sale. Twenty-one weathered patches in this quilt begun in the 1880s, one faded piece at a time. Sometimes a brighter patch would replace a worn one, but the quilt was never diminished in either size or quality.

- Tucson Suburb Seeks to Preserve Heritage Sites: Now 35 years old, Oro Valley wants residents to help the town explore its historical roots. The town is in the early phases of doing an inventory of its cultural resources with an eye toward protecting significant landmarks. "There's history that goes back decades and decades and we're just beginning to recognize that," said Paul Popelka, the town's Planning and Zoning acting director.

- Navajo Nation Examines Prospect of Purchasing Snowbowl: The Navajo Nation may try to buy a popular Arizona ski resort to stop snowmaking on one of the tribe’s most sacred mountains, the San Francisco Peaks. The Navajo Nation Council voted Wednesday to consider legislation that would allow the tribe to secure an appraisal and negotiate with the partners who own the Arizona Snowbowl outside Flagstaff. - Durango Herald

- BLM "Walking With Ancestors" Tour Of El Malpais Examines Chacoan Connections: How Chacoan was this valley? Downtown Chaco is today only 90 miles away by car… on a mud-free day. Were Chaco refugees and Mogollon influences closer? Alfred Dittert excavated and believed earlier construction happened during Chaco heydays. Dittert Site tree ring dates cluster from 1221 to 1279 with very few later. Is a great drought like then about to hammer us now? How did the ancients cope? How do we? BLM’s El Malpais National Conservation Area presents part 3 of its Fall 2009 Series, “Walking with the Ancestors”. Walk to the 37 room plus 1 round room, 2 story Dittert Site on Saturday, November 14th, 2009. Search for the elusive great kiva. Meet at the BLM ranger station on State Road 117 at 10:00 AM. Drive 28 miles (4X4 recommended) to the wilderness boundary. Hike 3 miles round trip. Rise 100 feet. See the beauty. Feel the mystery. Enjoy the company. 505.280.2918

- Lecture Opportunity (Blanding): "We Shall Remain - The Utah Voices" Today, the Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah is engaged in the long, slow climb back from near destruction by the invasion of European settlers and Mormon Pioneers. By the early 1900s, their numbers, once in the thousands, dwindled to less than 800. On Thursday evening, October 29th at 6:30 pm, the Edge of the Cedars State Park Museum will present, “The Paiute,” the second part in the “ We Shall Remain: Utah Voices” series. The free program is funded by the Utah Humanities Council. The evening will begin with the viewing of the half-hour long documentary, The Paiute. Following the documentary, Shanan Martineau, who is the Cultural Resource Manager for the Shivwits Paiute Band, will lead the discussion about critical events in Utah Paiute history. The audience is encouraged to participate in the discussion and to ask questions.

- Lecture Opportunity (Albuquerque): Thursday, Nov. 12, 7:00 pm, in room Hibben 105, Eric Blinman will present “Archaeological Myths: New/Old Perspectives on Puebloan Migrations.” Archaeological perspectives on the history of the Northern Southwest have been shaped by two interrelated beliefs that may not be true. The first is the archaeological belief that modern Pueblo peoples, as a whole, are descendant from the ancient population known as the Four Corners Anasazi. The second is the anthropological belief that the variety expressed in modern Pueblo culture (when we bother to think about it) is a consequence of the past 400 years of acculturation piled onto another 400 years of response to the climate crises of the 13th century. These two perspectives have had strong but almost subliminal roles in shaping our reconstructions of Southwestern culture history, and they may have led us astray. The "real" story of Puebloan history may be simpler than we think. Museum stays open until 6:45.

- Lecture Opportunity (Tubac): Specialized Hohokam Villages are Topic of Santa Cruz Valley AAS Program November 12th. Archaeologist Matthew Pailes will give a presentation to the Santa Cruz Valley Chapter of the Arizona Archaeological Society on November 12, 2009, 7 PM, at the North County Facility at 50 Bridge Road in Tubac. His topic will be Cerros de Trincheras (“entrenched mountains”), a specialized type of Hohokam village found in the Santa Cruz river basin starting about 1300 AD. The presentation is free and open to the public.

- Advisory Council on Historic Preservation Publishes 2010 Course Schedule: The only Section 106 course taught by the federal agency responsible for administering the National Historic Preservation Act’s Section 106 review process, this two-day course is designed for those who are new to federal historic preservation compliance or those who want a refresher on the Section 106 regulations and review process.

Thanks to Gerald Kelso and Rebecca Stoneman for contributing to today's newsletter.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Major Clovis Discoveries at El Fin De Mundo, Sonora

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

- Researchers Report on Major Clovis Discovery in Sonora: Scientists have discovered a site containing the most extensive evidence seen so far in Mexico for the Clovis culture. The find extends the range of America's oldest identifiable culture, which roamed North America about 13,000 years ago. The bed of artifacts in the state of Sonora in northwest Mexico also includes the bones of an extinct cousin of the mastodon called a "gomphothere". The beast was probably hunted and killed by the Clovis people, known for their distinctive spear points, who mysteriously disappeared within about 500 years of leaving their first archeological traces.

- The Center for Desert Archaeology Launches New Website: We are pleased to announce that our new website is up and running. Check out, and let us know what you think. We hope that you are as pleased with the updated content and more streamlined organization as we are. And there is so much more to come! Stay tuned as we continue to develop this new digital resource.

- "Irrefutable" Evidence in the Case of Everett Ruess Refuted: A skeleton found in the Utah wilderness last year was not that of Everett Ruess, a legendary wanderer of the 1930s, despite initial forensic tests that seemed to have solved an enduring mystery, his nephew told The Associated Press. "The skeleton is not related to us," Brian Ruess, a 44-year-old software salesman in Portland, Ore., said late Wednesday.

- Friends of Arizona Archives Meeting Planned for Tuesday Oct 27 (Phoenix): Tuesday, October 27, 11:00 am at the Arizona State Library and Archives agency second floor conference room. This is in the 1938 addition to the state capitol on the second floor, 1700 W. Washington in Phoenix. Free parking available at Wesley Bolin Plaza.

- Nature Conservancy Presents the Hohokam of the Hassayampa River (Wickenburg): Find out who lived along the Hassayampa River in ancient times at The Nature Conservancy’s Hassayampa River Preserve 9-11 a.m., Wednesday, Oct. 28. Maricopa County Park archaeologist Shelley Rasmussen will unravel the mysteries of the Hohokam and Yavapai cultures who inhabited the surrounding area. Class includes an introductory slide show and an easy walk around the preserve to explore where and how the Hohokam lived.

- Smoki Festival in Prescott This Saturday: Hopi tribal member and artist Michael Kabotie will give the keynote address at the event, talking about his "Journey of the Human Spirit." He will describe how he bridges the ancient Hopi world with modern American society, Nelson related. Kabotie and his late father Fred have been innovators in the Native American Fine Arts Movement, Nelson explained. Michael paints, creates jewelry and writes poetry.

- Lecture Opportunity (Reno): Dr. Pat Barker presents Prehistoric Sandals of the Great Basin at 7:30 p.m. Thursday as part of the Nevada State Museum's Frances Humphrey lecture series. The museum has some amazing sandals in its collection, including a 10,000-year-old sagebrush sandal currently on display in the Under One Sky exhibit.

- The Mississippian Site of Chucalissa Featured on the Archaeology Channel: Located in Memphis, Tennessee, the Chucalissa prehistoric site represents the widespread Mississippian Culture. Founded initially around A.D. 1000, Chucalissa village reached its peak around 1500 with the construction of large platform mounds around a central plaza. Part of a complex society and supported by farming and natural foods, the Native American people of this site traded throughout much of the Midwest and South. Since its rediscovery in 1940, the site has become an education center for the University of Memphis through the C. H. Nash Museum.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Southwestern Archaeology as Cultural Collaboration

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

- Southwestern Archaeology is Becoming a Tool For Collaboration, Rather than an Irritant for Native American Populations: From a Native perspective, archaeology has often been seen as the central villain in America’s quest to uncover and claim – and sometimes illegally market – the remnants of an ancient past. But if current trends are any indication, archaeology’s rehabilitation may be well underway, as Native scholars and students bring a living past into a vibrant present to offset a history marked by non-Native disrespect for tribal traditions, including those dictating burial practices.

- Charlie Gilbert Passes: Charles Gilbert passed away Saturday, October 10th. Charles initially recovered from surgery in December, but eventually succumbed to complications from pneumonia. Charlie was an active member of the Arizona Archaeology Society and made many personal contributions to southwestern archaeology. Arrangements for services and tributes have been provided by Brian Kenny.

- History of Southwestern Loot and Looting: The “pot-hunting” culture of the Southwest dates back to the 1800s, when a Colorado ranching family began exploring and excavating the ruined cliff dwellings of the Anasazi, an ancient civilization that flourished centuries ago. Richard Wetherill and his brothers discovered entire homes filled with decorated pottery, jewelry, tools, sandals and finely woven baskets dating from about 600 to 1300 A.D. Thousands of grave sites, where the dead were wrapped in blankets and buried with their most valuable possessions, also were discovered. The findings, and the archaeological treasures the Wetherills brought back from their expeditions, drew national and international attention – and launched a lucrative trade in Indian artifact collecting that has persisted, legally and illegally, to this day.

- City of Tucson Seeks Private Funding to Complete Historic Garden Project: The city of Tucson will pass the hat, hoping to rake in as much as $1 million in private donations, to help finish Rio Nuevo's Mission Gardens — the centerpiece of what voters approved 10 years ago. Although the city is eligible for about $600 million in state taxes for Rio Nuevo, most of that has been redirected to a Downtown hotel and arena, prompting the City Council to create a short-term and long-term plan to finish the Mission Gardens project through private donations.

- Taliesin West and Taos Pueblo Listed on World Monuments Fund Register of Threatened World Heritage Sites: From vanishing Kyoto merchant houses to the tourist-inundated ruins of Machu Picchu, heritage sites around the world are under pressure as never before, according to a New York-based preservation group. The World Monuments Fund on Tuesday re leased its biannual watch list of global architectural treasures at risk from urban development, tourism, neglect and bad planning.

- Archaeological Discoveries in Marana First Blamed for Delay in Park Construction, then Recognized as a Cultural Treasure: "The Indian artifacts were a surprise for the park. We knew about them when we were building the roadway, but they were a surprise to the park," Murray said, referring to last year's widening of North Silverbell Road along the west side of the park site. A local archaeology firm excavated and removed the items, he said. "That's really been our largest issue, has been the archaeology," Murray said. But in the end, with the three display sites being included, "our greatest obstacle has turned into one of Marana's finest treasures."

- Hohokam Axe Found at Mesa Community College: Construction workers at Mesa Community College unearthed a prehistoric Hohokam artifact while digging a trench for a main water line at the Southern Avenue and Dobson Road campus. Rick Effland, who has been an anthropology professor at MCC for over 20 years, identified the artifact as a three-quarter groove ax from the Hohokam Tribe that dates to 1100 to 1200 A.D. - Arizona Republic

- Event Planning for the Arizona Archaeology and Heritage Awareness Month Begins: The event planning committee has determined that the 2010 AAHAM theme will be the "Save Our Past: We Need You!". The event listing form is provided at the link below. The completed forms are due on October 29, 2009 so that they may be published in the official event listing.

- Lecture Opportunity (Phoenix): The Deer Valley Rock Art Center, an archaeology museum located in northwest Phoenix, is pleased to invite you to a free lecture Nov. 7 at 1 p.m. at the Deer Valley Rock Art Center. Well-known rock art scholar, Ekkehart Malotki will give a talk entitled “The ‘Deep Structure' of Non-Iconic Rock Art: Human Universals.”

- Lecture Opportunity (Tucson): Tonight, Oct 19th, Hopi elder Eric Polingyouma presents "Hopi Migration History" at the DuVal Auditorium, University Medical Center, 1501 N. Campbell Ave. 7:30-9 p.m.

- (World Archaeology) Roger Atwood Suggests that Iraq Needs a Site Stewards Program: AS United States troops begin withdrawing from Iraq, we should take stock of the staggering damage that Iraq’s ancient archeological sites have suffered from looting over the last few years. After the 2003 invasion, swarms of looters dug huge pits and passages all over southern Iraq in search of cuneiform tablets and cylinder seals. At Isin, where a Sumerian city once stood, I watched men sifting through tons of soil for 4,000-year-old objects to sell to Baghdadi dealers. It was mass pillage.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Devastating Budget Cuts at the Arizona State Museum

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

- Devastating Budget Cuts at the Arizona State Museum: The Arizona State Museum has canceled the annual Southwest Indian Art Fair because of state budget cuts. The museum will look for new funding to save the two-day spring event, where Native American artists sold wares on the museum's lawn at the University of Arizona campus.

- Evidence from the Gault Site Continues to Refine our Understanding of the Clovis and Pre-Clovis Era: In a big white tent pitched near Buttermilk Creek, archaeologists and volunteers are on their knees, scraping away sticky black clay a few tablespoons at a time. They wash the dirt and screen it for stone shards, spear points and flakes from some 13,000 years ago. Little by little, those bits of stone are chipping away at long-held pictures of the earliest Americans, wiping away images that are still depicted in high school textbooks and museum dioramas.
- Sentences in Blanding Looting Case Expected to be Light to Non-Existent: Stepping into the afternoon sun last month, Jeanne Redd and her daughter Jericca walked away from a federal courthouse with probation papers - not prison time - for their role in the theft and illegal trafficking of Indian artifacts. Some, including one of the Salt Lake City's daily newspapers, expressed frustration that the judge didn't come down harder on the duo from southern Utah.

- Arizona Archaeological and Historical Society Sponsors the Julian Hayden Paper Competition: In 1998, the Arizona Archaeological and Historical Society inaugurated the annual Julian D. Hayden Student Paper Competition. Named in honor of long-time AAHS luminary, Julian Dodge Hayden , the winning entry will receive a cash prize of $500 and publication of the paper in Kiva, The Journal of Southwestern Anthropology and History. The competition is open only to bona fide undergraduate and graduate students at any recognized college or university. Coauthored papers will be accepted only if all authors are students. Subject matter may include the anthropology, archaeology, history, linguistics, and ethnology of the American Southwest and northern Mexico, or any other topic appropriate for publication in Kiva.

- Book Sale This Saturday (Tucson): Arizona Archaeological and Historical Society Book Sale will be held in the Arizona State Museum South Building on the University of Arizona campus this Saturday, October 17th., from 9:00 a.m to 4:00 p.m. [AAHS members admitted at 8:00 am]. Includes many hard-to-find anthropological titles at reasonable prices as well as general books starting at $2.00. Proceeds go to support the ASM library.

- Native American Recognition Days to Take Place in Phoenix: Native American Recognition Days are taking place throughout October and November. Many special events are planned in the Phoenix area including pow wows, street fairs, dances, concerts, lectures, book signings, native food preparation, and craft demonstrations. Most events are free, and all are open to the public. A full schedule of events is available at the link below.

- Vermont Governor Seeks to End CRM Practice with a "No New Sites" Policy: Currently the Act 250 process requires, under limited conditions, developers to contract with professional archaeologists in order to make sure unregistered historic and prehistoric sites, such as Native American burial grounds, are not damaged during the construction process without first being excavated and studied. Land forms are required to undergo testing if they meet the criteria of scientifically proven predictive models, such as proximity to water, lack of slope, etc.. Presently less than three percent of Act 250 applications require such testing. When such phase one testing is required, the average cost to individual developers is $5000-10,000. Douglas is seeking to eradicate this process.

Lecture Opportunity (Tucson): Hopi Elder, Eric Polingyouma, will present his research into Hopi Migration history at the monthly Arizona Archaeological and Historical Society meeting, Monday, October 19th at 7:30 p.m. in DuVal Auditorium, UMC, 1501 N. Campbell Ave.

- Note: Contrary to the E-mail chain letter spreading across the Internet, Navajo Nation President Joe Shirley Jr. is not stranded in London and he does not need money to pay travel debts.

Thanks to Terry Colvin and Tom Wright for contributions to today's newsletter.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Archaeology Cafe this Tuesday, A Personal Perspective on Blanding Looting Cases

Southwestern Archaeology Today - A Service of the Center for Desert Archaeology

- Archaeology Cafe to Feature "Deserts, Diets, and Dentition: How the Introduction of Agriculture Affected Ancient Oral Health:" Tuesday, October 6, 2009 at 6:00 pm at Casa Vicente, 375 S. Stone Avenue, Tucson, AZ. Free and open to the community-all are welcome. This month, we will be joined by Dr. James Watson, Assistant Curator of Bioarchaeology at the Arizona State Museum. As a bioarchaeologist, Jim examines health and disease in prehistoric populations through their skeletal remains. His work focuses in understanding prehistoric human adaptations in desert ecosystems and the role that local resources play in the adoption of agriculture--and the impact of these resources on oral health. Jim will discuss his current research projects, which examine oral health among the earliest farmers in the Sonoran Desert, and among incipient agriculturalists in the Atacama Desert along the northern coast of Chile.

- Blanding Archaeologist Winston Hurst Provides a Personal Perspective on Looting Issues: High above the spiky sandstone spine known as Comb Ridge that snakes for 120 miles through the desert, archaeologist Winston Hurst treads carefully through a cave of ruins. The sun blazes down, illuminating the ghostly dwellings carved into the alcoves more than a thousand years ago. To a stranger the pre-Columbian pueblo ruins seem breathtakingly intact -- walls and windows and rooms still standing, storage chambers for corn strewn with thousand-year-old cobs, large stone grinding slabs and brightly colored pottery sherds scattered throughout. The archaeologist sees only destruction.

- Tucson's Marist College May See Rebirth: Marist College dominates West Ochoa Street like a three-story vision of failure: It somehow failed to grasp modernity as 1960s urban renewal gutted surrounding barrios and left the banal Tucson Convention Center as a souvenir. But where man stumbled, nature seems eager to engage: Today, three corners of Marist College bear huge gray tarps, to protect them from further crumbling under furious monsoons. Another corner is bandaged in black plastic strips. On top, what appears to have been a triumphant cross is reduced to a pile of stone.

- NPS Preservation Training and Technology Grant is Funding Database for Research of Fibers -- Ohio State University is looking to provide ethnobotanists, archeologists and analysts with a new way to identify fibers found in prehistoric artifacts. Through a grant from NCPTT, the university is creating a database containing digital images, explanatory text and terminology.

- TUMACACORI, A Desert Treasure: Beauty, as they say, is in the eye of the beholder. And though the crumbling church at Mission San Jose de Tumacacori, 30 miles north of the Mexican border, is well past its glory days, to me this sunbaked structure is nothing short of magnificent.
- Lecture Opportunity (Irvine): Pacific Coast Archaeological Society's October 8th meeting will feature Brett Wilson speaking on "The 'Desert Side' of Serrano Indian History." Meeting information: Thursday, October 8, 2009, 7:30 pm at the Irvine Ranch Water District, 15600 Sand Canyon Ave., Irvine, CA. Meeting is free and open to the public.

- The National Parks May be America's Best Idea, but the Parks face Serious Threats: On the heels of The National Parks: America’s Best Idea, filmmaker Ken Burns’ new six-part love letter, comes National Parks in Peril [PDF], a sobering report released on Thursday by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and the Rocky Mountain Climate Organization (RMCO). The 25 most endangered parks are being threatened by dramatic declines in snow and water, by rising seas, extreme weather, the disappearance of native plants and wildlife, and by the onslaught of nonstop, human-generated pollution. The changes have already begun. - National Parks In Peril (PDF Document)

- Arizona Preservation Conference Scheduled: The 8th Annual Arizona Statewide Historic Preservation Partnership Conference will take place in Flagstaff, May 13-14, 2010 at the du Bois Center on the campus of Northern Arizona University.

Thanks to Carrie Gregory for contributing to today's newsletter.