NEXT MEETING: Wednesday, December 15, 2021, online via Zoom, it's the GCAS special holiday meeting starting at the very special time of 6:00 PM. It may not be a “party” in our group's traditional sense, but we anticipate having a slideshow of archaeological images of solstice markers, followed by a slideshow of the AMAZING progress on our new Library and Workspace/Lab in the Wood House at the Mimbres Culture Heritage Site, and a reading of Marilyn Markel's annual poem wrapping up the year behind us. If any member has anything they wish to contribute to the fun, be it slideshows, games, announcements, or any etc., please contact Kyle ASAP at . The more the merrier!

NEXT FIELD TRIP = TBA - watch this space for details as they develop.

Teeth Wear
GCAS Field Trip to Paquimé, Part I

Prehispanic Burial Practices

This link goes to an article that's from January 2017, but I stumbled across it in preparing for next week's GCAS field trip to the Paquimé/Casas Grandes area of Chihuahua, Mexico.

Archaeologists have known that burial practices in Paquimé (an important agricultural and trading center by about 1100 CE), sometimes included reburials of partial human remains with ceramics and other grave goods. Archaeologists determined that Paquimé was a trading hub by some of the artifacts they had excavated there - item such as seashells and the remains of macaws, which clearly had to have been transported hundreds of miles to Paquimé from Mexico's seacoast and Mesoamerica's tropical jungles. However, evidence has recently emerged that trade between the inland high desert communities and those of the tropical lowlands may have begun centuries earlier.

In late 2015/early 2016, a landowner in San Francisco de Borja, Chihuahua, Mexico, decided to use a bulldozer to level the surface floor of a cave on his property called Cueva de Avendaños, apparently unaware of the archaeological site just below the surface. He destroyed the burials of at least three mummified individuals accompanied by textiles, basketry, string, leather, shell and a mummified military macaw. One of the burials was the lower half of an adult whose bones were bound by cord. Unfortunately, only the head of the macaw remained intact after the bulldozing. A complaint about the destruction was made to Mexican officials and soon an archaeological team performed a salvage operation in the cave.

image from upload.wikimedia.orgI could find no information on whether archaeologists have yet been able to establish a date for the site; however, as the article in the link indicates, archaeologists believe Cueva de Avendaños may be a much earlier site than Paquimé; perhaps Late Archaic, due to the absence of any ceramics associated with the burials. More importantly, the military macaw's remains indicate that some degree of trade was present at the time the cave was in use as a burial site; and it is the first evidence of this parrot species outside the site of Paquimé, about 217 miles to the north of Cueva de Avendaños. (Pic above = what a military macaw looks like when it is not mummified.)

It appears that the discoveries in Cueva de Avendaños may add to other recent archaeological data obtained from sites in the US Southwest and Mexico Northwest regions, to change previous assumptions about the size of prehispanic and archaic populations, and the dates when mechanisms of trade and communication with one another had been established.

Science is so cool.

/s/ webmaster


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