Monday, November 30, 2009

Ancient Agricultural Impacts and Climatic Change Studied at ASU

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

- ASU Archaeologist Michael C Barton Presents Research on the Climatic Impacts of Agricultural Practice: Arizona State University archaeologist C. Michael Barton has gained a reputation for learning about human-environment interaction by applying a long-term perspective, as well as the latest technology, to his research. His Mediterranean Landscape Dynamics project is creating multidimensional computer models of landscape change and agricultural land use practices for a 6,000-year period from the beginning of farming to the rise of urban civilization.

- Northern Arizona and Most of the Southwest in Drought: Rancher Duane Coleman manages a large ranch on land partly owned by the Hopi Tribe southeast of Flagstaff, near Twin Arrows. Of 75 tanks to water cattle on the ranch, all but two are dry, and the ranch received only 2.5 inches of monsoon rain this year, Coleman said. Coleman, vice president of the local Natural Resources Conservation District, is hauling 11,000 gallons of water a day to supply his livestock, he said, and has had to cut the number of cattle on the land by about a third. Normally he only has to haul water in the summer sometimes.

- Hopi Tribe to Open Hotel and Visitor's Center in Moenkopi: Tourists traveling the vast expanse of tribal lands in northern Arizona soon will have a venue to learn about the culture of one of the oldest indigenous tribes in America. A $13 million hotel and conference center billed as the western gateway to the Hopi reservation is set to open late this year, where entertainment, lectures and demonstrations will provide non-Hopis with an insight into the tribe's culture and traditions.

- Reminder - Archaeology Cafe This Tuesday in Tucson: The next Archaeology Café will convene on Tuesday, December 1, 2009, 6:00 pm, at Casa Vicente, 375 S. Stone Avenue, Tucson, AZ. This month, we will be joined by Don Burgess, former General Manager of KUAT TV. Thirty-one Latin-inscribed lead crosses and a caliche plaque collectively known as the Silverbell Artifacts confounded scholars at the time of their appearance over the years between 1924 and 1930. The items appeared to attest to Roman presence in southern Arizona between A.D. 775 and 940. Don will tell the story behind the story, and dispel the myths surrounding this deliberate hoax. The legacy of this incident continues to this day, as Arizona State Museum and Arizona History Museum curators can attest from the yearly inquiries they receive. The Café Program is Free and open to the community—all are welcome.

- Debate on North American Megafauna Extinctions Continue, but Timing of Event is Becoming Better Defined: ears of scientific debate over the extinction of ancient species in North America have yielded many theories. However, new findings from J. Tyler Faith, GW Ph.D. candidate in the hominid paleobiology doctoral program, and Todd Surovell, associate professor of anthropology at the University of Wyoming, reveal that a mass extinction occurred in a geological instant.

Travelogue - Southwestern Education Vacation: The American Southwest bursts with potential for exploration, and offers opportunities to learn about Native American groups, particularly the Hopi and Anasazi. Discover what it’s like to drive the Trail of the Ancients scenic byway, plan a day trip to New Mexico’s Chaco Culture National Historical Park or create an itinerary for the Four Corners, a hotbed of Native American history and culture. - Finding Dulcina

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Archaeology on a Bombing Range

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

- Archaeology on the Goldwater Bombing Range: There are places here where the desert floor is so speckled with artifacts, it is difficult to find a step that will not fracture history. In a place called Lago Seco, pieces of pottery, many more than 800 years old, glisten in the morning sun. Stone tools and arrowheads are covered with only a thin layer of sand. The quiet envelops visitors with its completeness. Then in the howling silence, a massive cloud of dirt and sand rises from the ground. Moments later, a concussive blast rolls out of Manned Range 4. - Arizona Republic

Lake Mead Petroglyph Mapping: The National Park Service, in conjunction with the Nevada Rock Art Foundation out of Reno, Nev., has undertaken a mapping of the petroglyphs at the mouth of Grapevine Canyon in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area north of Laughlin along Christmas Tree Pass. According to Archeological Technologist Erin Eichenberg, the drawings that cover many rock surfaces in the canyon have never been properly surveyed. Volunteers from the NRAF are sketching, mapping locations of petroglyphs using GPS devices and documenting art work found on around 250 different panels containing drawings. Additionally, the volunteers are assisting park personnel with filling out the paperwork necessary to properly document the site.

- Lecture Opportunity (Tucson): Southwestern Author Craig Childs to Speak on Water: The behavior of water — in all its flowing, flooding, frozen forms — fascinates author Craig Childs. He has observed the precious, powerful resource in locales from the deserts of Arizona to the highlands of Tibet — and he will discuss some of his fluid findings in a free Dec. 10 lecture at Pima Community College. Childs will deliver the Lawrence Clark Powell Memorial Lecture. It's part of the Southwest Literature Project sponsored by the Pima County Public Library. 7 p.m. Dec. 10 at the Proscenium Theatre on the West Campus of Pima Community College, 2202 W. Anklam Road.

- Exhibit Opening (Tucson): The Arizona State Museum presents opening celebrations for "Mexico, the Revolution and Beyond: the Casasola Archives, 1900-1940" on Thurs, Dec 3, 2009, 6:30-9:00 p.m. Enjoy a panel discussion (at CESL auditorium) followed by an exhibit viewing, a book signing and a reception (at ASM). Enjoy delicious food from El Charro Café and sweet treats from Le Cave's Bakery. Kindly RSVP to Darlene Lizarraga (520) 626-8381 or This exhibition is organized by the Fototeca Nacional of the Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia (Mexico) and is presented in collaboration with the Consulate of Mexico in Tucson.

- Travelouge - Montezuma's Castle: Our state is blessed with real connections to ancient cultures that offer clues to our past — and a celebration of the enormous accomplishments of these indigenous peoples. An increased understanding of the gifts of these cultures to our contemporary society will result in a greater appreciation for Arizona’s diverse cultural groups, and for the land that served as their homes. Conservation of the fragile environment of our state, along with preservation of its natural beauty, has brought us Montezuma’s Castle.

Thanks to Brian Kenny for contributing to today's newsletter.

Friday, November 20, 2009

The "Mystery" of the Tucson Artifacts

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

- The "Mystery" of the Tucson Artifacts: Jones is the museum collections manager at the Arizona Historical Society. We are on the second floor of the building in a room with no pomp or circumstance, unlike other archive rooms on the same floor containing rows and rows of valuable remnants of history that are painstakingly organized and proudly displayed. Jones had laughed a bit when I asked her over the phone to see the artifacts. For years, there was heated debate between the finders of the lead pieces and experts in the archeology field. "What was their origin?" they asked. The theories ranged from claims that they were evidence of the Lost Tribe of Israel's presence in Tucson or that they were the creation of a young Mexican boy to claims even that they must have been planted in the ground by their discoverers.

- Join the Center For Desert Archaeology and Local Scholar Don Burgess for a Livley Discussion of the Tucson Artifacts at the Next Archaeology Cafe (Tucson): The next Archaeology Café will convene on Tuesday, December 1, 2009, 6:00 pm, at Casa Vicente, 375 S. Stone Avenue, Tucson, AZ. This month, we will be joined by Don Burgess, former General Manager of KUAT TV. Thirty-one Latin-inscribed lead crosses and a caliche plaque collectively known as the Silverbell Artifacts confounded scholars at the time of their appearance over the years between 1924 and 1930. The items appeared to attest to Roman presence in southern Arizona between A.D. 775 and 940. Don will tell the story behind the story, and dispel the myths surrounding this deliberate hoax. The legacy of this incident continues to this day, as Arizona State Museum and Arizona History Museum curators can attest from the yearly inquiries they receive. The Café Program is Free and open to the community—all are welcome.

- Congratulations to Archaeologist James Heidke: The membership of the Arizona Archaeological Council selected James Heidke as the 2009 recipient of the Contributions to Arizona Archaeology Award. Jim was nominated for his achievements in ceramic petrography. He has helped to develop methods of ceramic sourcing that have enriched our understanding of prehistoric ceramic production, distribution, and specialization. Jim’s diligent research efforts have contributed to our knowledge of the past as our profession continues to grow and evolve. The Arizona Archaeological Council is pleased to recognize these important contributions to Arizona archaeology.

- A Different Sort of Archaeological Dating at BYU Museum: Most people think of musty corners and old relics when they think of museums, but with an upcoming activity, one BYU museum will be a hot spot of romantic activity. This Friday, the Museum of Peoples and Cultures is hosting a date night in conjunction with International Education Week to liven up the atmosphere. The date night will be full of activities such as viewing Anasazi pottery from Fourmile Ruin in the “New Lives” exhibition, “Cultural Trivia” scavenger hunts and pottery making with prizes.

- After Mastodons and Mammoths, a Transformed Landscape:
When the population of mastodons, mammoth, camel, horse, ground sloths, and giant beavers crashed, emptying a land whose diversity of large animals equaled or surpassed Africa's wildlife-rich Serengeti plains then or now, an entirely novel ecosystem emerged as broadleaved trees once kept in check by huge numbers of big herbivores claimed the landscape. Soon after, the accumulation of woody debris sparked a dramatic increase in the prevalence of wildfire, another key shaper of landscapes. This new picture of the ecological upheaval of the North American landscape just after the retreat of the ice sheets is detailed in a study published November 19 in the journal Science.

- Slide Show of Threatened Places of the Americas: In an effort to preserve cultural sites around the world, the World Monuments Fund releases a list of endangered sites every two years. This year's list includes 93 sites drawn from 47 countries, from well-known attractions to obscure ruins. Here are the spots from the list that sparked our interest, including some that you may want to visit.,0,4072902.photogallery

- New York Times Science Editorial Argues In Favor of "Partage:" Zahi Hawass regards the Rosetta Stone, like so much else, as stolen property languishing in exile. “We own that stone,” he told Al Jazeera, speaking as the secretary general of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities. The British Museum does not agree — at least not yet. But never underestimate Dr. Hawass when it comes to this sort of custody dispute. He has prevailed so often in getting pieces returned to what he calls their “motherland” that museum curators are scrambling to appease him.

- O'odham Basketry: Native Americans in the United States have been weaving baskets for centuries. Archeologists have discovered baskets that are thousands of years old. They were used to hold food and other supplies, and for sacred rituals. But many baskets made today are for decoration. The Tohono O'odham in (the southwest state of) Arizona live on the second largest reservation in the U.S. Rose Martin has inherited a family tradition. "My mother's the one who taught me how to do basketry when I was about 10 years old and gave me that gift to weave," she said.

- Cultural Resources Diversity Internship Program Seeks Internship Program Proposals for the Summer of 2010: The CRDIP provides career exploration opportunities to undergraduate and graduate students from diverse communities in historic preservation and cultural resources management. The cost is shared on a 50/50 basis between the CRDIP and the intern sponsor. Please submit intern project proposals on the linked form below by November 30, 2009 to Turkiya Lowe at; - Application Form, MS Word Document. - Program Description

- Lecture Opportunity (Tubac): Marana dig reveals pre-Hohokam agricultural settlement. Archaeologist James Vint will present the findings from the just-completed excavation of one of the earliest irrigation-based villages in the American Southwest yet documented. The Santa Cruz Valley Chapter of the Arizona Archaeological Society will host his talk on December 10, 2009, 7 PM, at the North County Facility at 50 Bridge Road in Tubac. The presentation is free and open to the public.

- The October/November 2009 Alliance of National Heritage Areas Alliance
Update Newsletter:

Thanks to Gerald Kelso and Adrianne Rankin for contributions to today's newsletter.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Gomphothere Remains Found at Northern Mexican Clovis Site

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

- Ancient Gomphotheres Remains Found With Clovis Tools in Northern Mexico: Scientists have found evidence that cavemen (sic) near the U.S.-Mexican border were butchering gomphotheres, elephant-like beasts from the Ice Age that had been believed to be nearly extinct in North America by the time humans appeared there. Researchers from the University of Arizona and Mexico's anthropology institute say they found the bones of two young gomphotheres — along with blades, a scraping tool and stone chips from making spear tips — at an 11,000-year-old site in Mexico's Sonora state.

- Satellite Imagery Used to Document Hohokam Canals in Phoenix Basin: Anthropologists, with the assistance of satellite imagery, have discovered the remains of a series of ancient canals, located just south of the Salt River, near the very heart of downtown Mesa, Arizona. The existence of the canal system, built in the Salt River valley centuries ago by the Hohokam, has long been known, but the extent of this most recent discovery has caught some experts by surprise. -

- Mesa Grande Tours will Begin Soon: ...Decades of groundwork are paying off as the city is rushing to lay a path through the ruins in the final weeks of this year. Some time next year, Mesa Grande will be ready for the first regular tours to the site pioneers discovered in the 1800s.

- Etymology of "Arizona:" The most logical and accurate interpretation traces the name to about 1734-1736 in a community some 50 miles southwest of Nogales on today's Arizona/Mexico border. According to historian Jay Wagoner, a Yaqui Indian named Antonio Siraumea, in October of 1736, discovered chunks of silver (planchas de plata) lying on the ground in a canyon located near the rancheria of "Arissona," a visita of the nearby mission.

- Lecture Opportunity & Book signing (Albuquerque): Stephen Lekson presents "A History of the Ancient Southwest" at Page One Bookstore (SW corner of Montgomery and Juan Tabo), Friday, November 20 at 7 PM. According to Dr. Lekson, much of what we think we know about the Southwest has been compressed into conventions and classifications and orthodoxies. A History of the Ancient Southwest challenges and reconfigures these accepted notions by telling two parallel stories, one about the development, personalities, and institutions of Southwestern archaeology and the other about interpretations of what actually happened in the ancient past.

- Kiva Mural and Ancient Pigment Expert Paul T. Kay Passes: Paul Tarsus Kay, 70, passed peacefully following a lengthy illness while at Denver Health, Oct. 29, 2009. He was a self-made Anthropologist, Scientist, Researcher, Philosopher, Producer/ Promoter, Advocate of the Fine Arts, House Painter extraordinaire, Good Samaritan and Avid conversationalist. - Denver Post

- Lecture Opportunity (Tucson) Randy McGuire will present " Cerros de Trinceras & Warfare in Sonora, Mexico" as part of the monthly meeting of the Arizona Archaeological and Historical Society. Tonight, 7:30 PM at the Duval Auditorium, University Medical Center.

- Travelogue - Mesa Verde: The ancient tribes who wandered into southwestern Colorado more than a thousand years ago were no dummies. They looked at the area's big, rugged mesas and decided to live inside them. They built south-facing homes, shielded from the winter's north wind. In the summer, the flat cliff overhangs kept them cool. - The Statesman

- Travelouge - Walnut Canyon National Moument: A strong wind blows out of Walnut Canyon, but the day is warm, the clouds are scattered and sunlight burns the mesa tops. A group of students has just crowded into the visitor center and makes its way out the back door and down a trail that leads past an ancient Sinagua Indian village, the main feature of the park. - Arizona Republic

- Incan Pottery Replication at Stanford: The Spanish invaders told the Inca that the diseases were payback for idolatry. But the Incan priests of the Taki Unquy opposition had their own take: Their people had taken European names, clothes and religion; they had abandoned the native languages for Spanish. The Inca hadn't kept to the old ways – and the ancestors were displeased. So, to propitiate them, indigenous potters began to make small vessels again, just like their ancestors had 40 years earlier, before the 1530s conquest. Half a millennium later and thousands of miles away, Incan vessels were pulled from an alpaca-dung open-air kiln at Stanford this month – as close to the "real thing" as one could reasonably expect to get.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Former Museum Director Wants New Laws To Stop Pothunting

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

- Former Museum Director Calls for New Laws to Thwart Southwestern Looting: Across the Southwest, the illegal excavation of artifacts on public and tribal lands has been hobby, occupation, guilty pleasure and even family tradition. At the turn of the 20th century, metropolitan museums around the world competed to establish collections. Some museums paid locals to dig pots, primarily from ancient Indian burials. Southwest Colorado, southeast Utah and New Mexico — home to the Ancestral Puebloan and Mogollon/Mimbres cultures — are epicenters for pothunting in the Southwest. - Grand Junction Sentinel

- New Fee Structure from the Laboratory of Tree Ring Research: On November 1, 2004, the Dendroarchaeology section of the Laboratory of Tree-ring Research implemented its first rate change in more than a decade. This structure allowed principal investigators and project directors to more precisely plan for the costs of dendrochronological analysis. Unfortunately, due to severe university budget cuts and substantially increased health care and university administrative costs, we now find it necessary to revise our rate structure again five years later. We do not take this step lightly, but must increase our rates if we are to survive and remain the only source of archaeological tree-ring dates in the Southwest. - MS Word Document.

- Casa Grande National Monument Boundary Expansion Unanimously Supported by Coolidge City Council: After much waiting and anticipation, the Casa Grande Ruins National Monument has seen a step in the right direction concerning a boundary expansion project to further protect the ancient site in its entirety. The Ruins staff and other archaeological site preservationists have been involved in discussions for several years, but have just acquired one imperative step in the right direction — the support of both local councils. - Coolidge Examiner

- New Blog at the Center for Desert Archaeology - Rural Heritage Preservation: The rural West is changing. Urban sprawl, recreational development, and economic changes are all contributing to the loss of our rural cultural heritage. This blog is dedicated to increasing awareness of the rural historic heritage of Arizona and New Mexico, and to promoting preservation action that can save these special places of our shared past.

- Navajo Archaeologist Makes Case for Ancestral Connections to the Ancient Southwest: If Hollywood ever makes a movie about an odd pair of archaeologists investigating the ruins that haunt the Four Corners area of the Southwest, Taft Blackhorse and John Stein could be the real life inspiration. Imagine Blues Brothers crossed with The X-Files. I spent a whirlwind three days with the two Navajo Nation archaeologists in early August, touring Chaco Canyon and other famous archaeological sites in the Four Corners, such as New Mexico's Salmon Ruins and Aztec. Virtually alone among their peers, Blackhorse and Stein argue that the Navajo are connected to these famous sites, and have a deep history in the Four Corners region that stretches back thousands of years.

- Pecos National Historic Park Renovating Historic Trading Post: Brown and crew will restore the multi-room adobe and pine building to its look from the 1940s and ’50s, when E.E. “Buddy” Fogelson and his actress wife, Greer Garson, used the trading post as headquarters for their Forked Lightning Ranch. The historic character of the building and any usable original materials will be preserved, but it will be upgraded to house administrative offices and a place to greet visitors. “A lot of people see the trading post first, before the visitors center,” said Christine Beekman, chief of interpretation at the park. - Santa Fe New Mexican

- Zuni Anthropology Student Using 3D Modeling Technologies in Researching the Ancient Southwest: Daniel Pedro knew when he was a sophomore at Santa Fe Indian School that he wanted to be an anthropologist. He also knew that as a Zuni, he would not be able to touch human remains – a common task for physical anthropologists. “It was kind of a barrier,” said Pedro, a 20-year-old freshman at the University of New Mexico-Gallup. “I had to find a way to work around it.”

- Travelogue - Wupatki National Monument: In the long run maybe it’s good fortune that the Wupatki National Monument northeast of Flagstaff, Arizona resides in relative obscurity, never given a second thought by the millions who race north on 89 to crowd shoulder-to-shoulder and stare into the Grand Canyon. Their loss is our gain because infrequent visitors means peace and quiet out on the wide open desert expanses and allows you to stroll unhurried through the splendidly preserved 800 year-old ruins that once marked a cultural hub, a melting pot of ancient Sinagua and Kayenta Anasazi, and to a lesser extent Cohonina and Hohokam peoples.

- Nominations Open for "America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places: America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places has identified more than 200 threatened one-of-a-kind historic treasures since 1988. Whether these sites are urban districts or rural landscapes, Native American landmarks or 20th-century sports arenas, entire communities or single buildings, the list spotlights historic places across America that are threatened by neglect, insufficient funds, inappropriate development or insensitive public policy. The designation has been a powerful tool for raising awareness and rallying resources to save endangered sites from every region of the country. At times, that attention has garnered public support to quickly rescue a treasured landmark; while in other instances, it has been the impetus of a long battle to save an important piece of our history.

- Economic Downturn & Border Conflicts Causing Severe Hardships in Mata Ortiz: (From an SAT subscriber who wishes to stay anonymous) Mata Ortiz is going through some tough times. A family member of Juan Quezada's was murdered recently. People have been abducted. It's terrible. Of course, people are staying away from there in droves, so the artists are not selling much in the village. Ana asked if she could come up here and sell and I'm trying to help her. On Nov 21st from 10:30 AM to 1:30 PM there will be a demonstration and sale in Tucson at Details, Art and Design Gallery at 3001 E. Skyline Drive. Funds from this event will directly benefit the potters of Mata Ortiz.

Thanks to Adrianne Rankin for contributing to today's newsletter.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Archaeoastronomy and Kivas

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

- Ohio Art Professor Studies Achaeoastronomy Links to Ancient Kivas in Southeastern Utah: Jim Krehbiel was up past midnight making a piece of art by layering maps and field notes onto photos he had taken of an ancient ritual site high on a cliff ledge in the desert Southwest. He looked at the image of the kiva and remembered how the ruins were nearly inaccessible. Krehbiel had to lower himself on a rope to reach them. Why, he wondered that night in the fall of 2007, would anyone build something so important in such a remote spot among the canyons and mesas? - Ohio Dispatch

- Retiring Mesa Verde Superintendent Highlights the Past and Future of the National Park: The local impacts of the new Mesa Verde visitors center topped the Mesa Verde National Park superintendent's final speech. The retiring Larry Wiese told the Cortez Chamber of Commerce he had come full circle since he delivered his first presentation as Mesa Verde's superintendent 16 years ago. "It really does feel right to come full circle. The timing is right to hand things off," he said, adding the visitor center is a go as soon as the president signs this year's national budget bill. Wiese said besides housing 3 million objects that have not had room to be displayed, the center will provide information designed to point tourists to Cortez, Dolores, Mancos and Montezuma County archeological attractions. - Durango Herald

- Apache Nations Requests Review of National Park Service Practice in Regards to NAGPRA: A group of Apache historic preservation officers is alleging that the National Park Service is improperly implementing the Native American Graves and Repatriation Act. In a letter sent to Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar in September, the Western NAGPRA working group said the NPS is allowing improper cataloguing of sacred and holy tribal items. The working group is composed of NAGPRA representatives from the San Carlos Apache Tribe, the White Mountain Apache Tribe, the Tonto Apache Tribe, and the Yavapai-Apache Nation.

- Social Inequality Found to Have Ancient Origins: he so-called “silver spoon” effect -- in which wealth is passed down from one generation to another -- is well established in some of the world’s most ancient economies, according to an international study coordinated by a UC Davis anthropologist. The study, to be reported in the Oct. 30 issue of Science, expands economists’ conventional focus on material riches, and looks at various kinds of wealth, such as hunting success, food-sharing partners and kinship networks. The team found that some kinds of wealth, like material possessions, are much more easily passed on than social networks or foraging abilities. Societies where material wealth is most valued are therefore the most unequal, said Monique Borgerhoff Mulder, the UC Davis anthropology professor who coordinated the study with economist Samuel Bowles of the Santa Fe Institute.

Thanks to Terry Colvin and Adrianne Rankin for contributing to today's newsletter.