Sunday, August 29, 2010

Ground Grains - What the Locals Ate 10,000 Years Ago

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

What the Locals Ate 10,000 Years Ago
ScienceDaily (Aug. 23, 2010) — If you had a dinner invitation in Utah's Escalante Valley almost 10,000 years ago, you would have come just in time to try a new menu item: mush cooked from the flour of milled sage brush seeds. five summers of meticulous excavation, Brigham Young University archaeologists are beginning to publish what they've learned from the "North Creek Shelter." It's the oldest known site occupied by humans in the southern half of Utah and one of only three such archaeological sites state-wide that date so far back in time. - Desert News

Cactus Genes Connect Modern Mexico to Its Prehistoric Past
ScienceDaily (Aug. 23, 2010) — In prehistoric times farmers across the world domesticated wild plants to create an agricultural revolution. As a result the ancestral plants have been lost, causing problems for anyone studying the domestication process of modern-day varieties, but that might change. A team led by Fabiola Parra at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM) has managed to trace a domesticated cactus, the Gray Ghost Organ Pipe (Stenocereus pruinosus) to its living ancestor that can still be found in the Tehuacán Valley in Mexico.

New Foundation Practices Preservation in Central Arizona
While some people look at an old building or an abandoned site and see an eyesore, Gem Cox and other members of the Florence Heritage Foundation see an opportunity for history to come alive. “Our mission is to preserve our heritage and historic icons — buildings, sites and history,” said Cox, who serves as the president of the Florence Heritage Foundation, which was formed in 2009 and incorporated this year. Cox said that witnessing the degradation of many historic sites in the area helps to motivate the foundation.

Former Arizona State Parks Archaeologist Marilyn Mlazovsky Passes
Former Cultural Resources Manager for Arizona State Parks, Marilyn Mlazovsky, M.A., passed away on August 15, 2010. Marilyn was an archaeologist and often attended conferences and workshops throughout the state. With over 25 years in the cultural resources arena, she came to Arizona from the US Forest Service in California and Utah where she managed the USFS Heritage and Paleontology programs for a number of Forests. Marilyn also worked with the USFS International Forestry Section on a multi-government, multi-disciplinary team in Micronesia. She was a great fan of the Phoenix Symphony and can be remembered with donations to that organization. - From Ann Howard, AZ State Historic Preservation Office.

Rosetta Stone Releases Navajo Language Tutorial Software
Rosetta Stone, creator of the renowned language learning software, on Tuesday released its Navajo version, the first large-scale language revitalization project for the dialect. Navajo, traditionally an oral language, still is spoken by more than 100,000 people, making it the most common American Indian language north of Mexico. Yet use and fluency among the younger generations is on a decline with about 50 percent of Navajo age 17 and younger unable to speak their native language at all, according to data from the 2000 U.S. Census.

Congratulations to Tucson's Menlo Park Nationhood and Mesa's Fraiser Fields Historic District, Both now listed on National Register of Historic Places.

Video Link about Revitalizing Piman Agriculture (from Tom Wright)
Here's a link to a short video about some traditional Pima agricultural practices as currently being revitalized in the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community: Archaeologists should pay special attention to Jacob Butler's comments about "rock mounds" and "rock spirals" starting at about 2 minutes, 40 seconds into the video. Think about the features he uses in his garden, and then imagine what they would look like after about 1000 years. Anybody who has recorded Hohokam rockpile fields, in the Northern Tucson Basin or elsewhere, will have a pretty good idea of the result. Also watch his use of a digging stick at 4:55, and the "double-dug" garden at 6:30.

Lecture Opportunity (Glendale)
The Agua Fria Chapter of the Arizona Archaeology Society is offering a free lecture on Archaeological Findings During Light Rail Excavations, on Tuesday, September 14, 2010 at 6:00 PM at the Glendale Public Library Auditorium, 5959 West Brown (south of Peoria Ave). Membership is not required. The speaker, Hoski Schaafsma, is a Ph.D. student in Archaeology at Arizona State University. He participated in the Light Rail archaeological excavations near Sky Harbor Airport. His presentation will feature photographs of a major Hohokam field system that was discovered. For more information contact Sandy Haddock, (480) 481-0582,

Arizona Archaeology Expo Scheduled for 2011
Arizona Archaeology and Heritage Awareness Month has been sceduled for march 1 – 31 with the Archaeology Expo Scheduled for March 26th and 27th. The State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) is pleased to announce that the theme for the 2011 celebration of Arizona Archaeology and Heritage Awareness Month (AAHAM) is: “Arizona Through Time: Stories of Stone.” The Expo will be held at the Deer Valley Rock Art Center (DVRAC) (3711 W. Deer Valley Road, Phoenix, 85308. The first Expo Planning Meeting will be held at the DVRAC on October 5, 2010 at 1:00 p.m. More detailed information will follow soon. SHPO will be sending out participation forms in late September for the AAHAM statewide Listing of Events brochure and for the Archaeology Expo.

Can the Wiki System Help to Save Antiquities?
The field of archaeology and the timeworn Middle East would not seem the obvious places to look for a wiki revolution. But next month in Jordan, officials who oversee that country’s vast store of antiquities will begin an experiment aimed at bringing 21st-century tools to the task of protecting ancient sites, which is an especially pressing need in neighboring Iraq, where looting is once again on the rise.

Cambodian Archaeology on the Archaeology Channel
The rich cultural history of Cambodia has generated an impressive archaeological record that until recently received little world attention. Raising awareness of this country’s remarkable legacy and the challenges posed for those exploring it is our motive in selecting Gold Diggers and Temple Rescuers: A Cambodian Expedition to be the latest video feature on our nonprofit streaming-media Web site, The Archaeology Channel.

Training Opportunity (Mt Pleasant, SC)
"Effective Interpretation of Archeological and Cultural Heritage Resources" a 5-day workshop that will enhance interdisciplinary communication skills for using a team
approach to develop and produce effective public interpretation and education programs and products.

Employment Opportunity (Tucson)
Harris Environmental Group, Inc. is seeking an archaeological Project Director to direct compliance projects for federal, state, and commercial clients. Archaeological experience in the Southwestern United States is required. Candidates must meet Secretary of Interior standards, including a graduate degree in archeology, anthropology, or closely related field plus at least one year of full-time professional experience or equivalent specialized training in archeological research, administration or management; at least four months of supervised field and analytic experience in general North American archeology, and demonstrated ability to carry research to completion. Compensation package will be commensurate with experience. For more information on Harris Environmental Group, see To apply, please send resume and letter of interest via email to Lisa Harris, President, at

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