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.