Monday, December 21, 2009

Las Capas Listed in Archaeology Magazine's Top Ten Discoveries for 2009

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

- Archaeology Magazine Names Excavations at Las Capas to List of Top Ten Discoveries in 2009: For years, archaeologists in the American Southwest have wrestled with a frustrating puzzle: How did ancient farmers grow corn in the cactus-studded Sonoran Desert as early as 2000 B.C.? Some form of irrigation was clearly necessary, but until 2009 no one had ever seen evidence for one of these primeval watering systems. Now at the site of Las Capas outside Tucson, archaeologist James Vint of Desert Archaeology Inc. and his colleagues have excavated an enormous network of canals and fields stretching over as many as 100 acres and dating to 1200 B.C. It is the oldest documented irrigation system in North America.

- Arizona State University's First Native American Archaeologist Honored at Commencement Ceremony: In the United States, most of the archaeology is about Native American cultures. Yet nationwide, there are only about 15 Native American doctorate-level archaeologists involved in the interpretation of their archaeological past. Today, William "Rex" Weeks joins their ranks as the first Native American to receive a doctoral degree with a specialization in archaeology from Arizona State University's highly competitive anthropology program. His inspiring success story was shared during the commencement ceremony.

- Southwest Symposium Seeks Venue for 2012 Conference: Responsibilities include retaining a conference facility and hotel, setting the program theme, identifying major paper and poster sessions and their coordinators, creating a program, and organizing a reception for participants. The conference organizers will also edit the conference proceedings volume. The Southwest Symposium currently has a publication arrangement with the University of Colorado to publish contingent on peer review.

- Coso Petroglyphs are a Little Known Californian Treasure: Everywhere you look, for a mile or so down what is known as Little Petroglyph Canyon, there are images pecked or scratched into the rock faces: stylized human figures in a variety of headgear, stick figures with bows and arrows, dogs or coyotes, bear paws with extra digits, all manner of abstract geometric patterns, zigzags and circles and dots, and hundreds upon hundreds of what looked like bighorn sheep, some small, some larger than life size. - New York Times

- Gila Cliff Dwellings Announce Winter and Holiday Hours: The Cliff Dwellings are open year-round. During the winter, visitors may hike to the dwellings between 9:00 am and 4:00 pm, and while the gate to the dwellings closes at 4:00 pm, visitors have another hour in which to complete their hike. A guided tour of the Cliff Dwellings is offered daily at 12:00 p.m. The Monument is open year-round, including Christmas Eve (December 24), Christmas Day (December 25) and New Years Day (January 1). The Gila Visitor Center, however, will be closing at 12:30 p.m. on December 24th, and will be closed all day on December 25th and January 1st.

- Holiday Hours Announced for Anasazi Heritage Center: The Bureau of Land Management’s Anasazi Heritage Center will be closing at noon on Thursday, Dec. 24 and will remain closed on Christmas Day. The Center will reopen on Dec. 26 from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. The Heritage Center will also be closed Jan. 1, 2010, and resume its seven
day a week 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. schedule through February.

- Ancient Ceramic found in Cave in the Manti-LaSal National Forest: A pot discovered under a rock in one of the canyons in the forest in early December may be between 800-1000 years old. "We will be doing a lot of study on this, but it appears to be Anasazi or Fremont in origin," said Charmaine Thompson, the archaeologist for the Manti-La Sal National Forest.

- UCLA Honored for Research at Historic Cemetery: UCLA's Cotsen Institute of Archaeology and a research associate have won the Governor's Historic Preservation Award for high-tech mapping efforts at the Marquez Family Cemetery in Santa Monica Canyon. - LA Times

- Autry Center Plans to Close Southwest Muesem: Last Saturday, 12/12/2009, the docents had their annual holiday gathering at the museum. John Gray made a surprise appearance, and announced to our group that the Southwest Museum site at Mt. Washington would be closing to the general public. The reason he gave was that they needed space for artifact restoration and conservation. He said that after 12/31/2009, the bookstore area will be closed and used to do work on the bead-work portion of the collection. Any public events now taking place at the museum will cease. - Griffithparkwayist@blogspot.

- US Army Continues to Threaten Sacred Native Site: The Comanche Nation and the U.S. Army have been battling over a proposed training/service center for the Fort Sill complex that was to be built on Medicine Bluff, a sacred site of not just the Comanche, but also the Kiowas, the Wichitas and the Apaches. Last year, the Army changed locations after a federal Judge blocked construction and ruled that all four bluffs had to be visible for the spiritual well-being of the Comanche people. The Army can still appeal the ruling, and the Comanche administration believes they will appeal in an attempt to drag out the litigation until the tribe runs out of money.

- North American Megafauna May Have Survived Longer than Currently Believed: Extinct woolly mammoths and ancient American horses may have been grazing the North American steppe for several thousand years longer than previously thought. After plucking ancient DNA from frozen soil in central Alaska, a team of researchers used cutting-edge techniques to uncover "genetic fossils" of both species locked in permafrost samples dated to between 7,600 and 10,500 calendar years.

- Mayans Working to Save Cultural Heritage Featured on the Archaeology Channel: An association of Tz’utujil Maya people from Santiago Atitl├ín, Guatemala, struggle to establish a cultural center and archaeological site museum at the nearby lakeside site of Chuitinamit, once home to the Pre-Hispanic Maya King Tepepul and now badly looted. Including a tour of the museum, this film documents their accomplishments thus far and current endeavors in the face of artifact looting and natural catastrophe in the form of Hurricane Stan, which struck in 2005.

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