NEXT MEETING: Wednesday, July 17, 2024, 6:00PM: members and non-members are welcome to the GCAS monthly meeting at the Roundup Lodge in San Lorenzo (Mimbres Valley). We start at 6PM with a potluck - bring your own plates & utensils, and a dish for yourself or to share with with what we expect to be a larger than usual number of guests, including the starving students of the Preservation Archaeology Museum Curation and Survey Field School. Let's feed these folks well, people! At about 6:30PM we will have a brief business meeting followed immediately by our featured speaker, Archaeology Southwest's Karen Schollmeyer PhD, who will share updates on her and her field school team's work at the WNMU Museum which includes curating the artifacts comprising the NAN Ranch collection. Come meet the next generation of archaeologists and learn about the latest activity at our own WNMU Museum. In order to offer our members a safe and comfortable experience at our in-person meetings the GCAS follows CDC and New Mexico Department of Health guidelines for indoor gatherings including masking, distancing, and vaccinations. We recommend each attendee take the precautions they feel are appropriate for themselves.

NEXT FIELD TRIP: we defer a July field trip due to conflict with the July 4 holiday weekend. Watch this space for our next field trip scheduled for Sunday, August 4, 2024, destination TBA.

Following Dr. Karen Schollmeyer
GCAS Field Trip to Elk Ridge, Part II

GCAS Field Trip to Elk Ridge, Part I

Daniel Perez UNLV  explains the dig - 3The Elk Ridge archaeological site comprises a large Classic Mimbres (1000-1130 CE) pueblo containing more than 200 rooms, making Elk Ridge the most significant site of the upper Mimbres River Valley. Karl Laumbach of the Arizona Archaeological and Historical Society describes that, "Prior to the spring of 1989, no one knew that a large intact Mimbres Pueblo lay buried under alluvium on the West Fork of the Mimbres River. For the 90 days before the law took Elk Ridge midden - Darrell Creel deep in thoughteffect, the landowner used heavy equipment to extract as many pots as possible but the sheer depth of the deposits prevented complete destruction...." Eyewitnesses to the bulldozing reported at the time that each day, buyers from around the world would park their cars along a nearby road and bid on each artifact as it was removed from the ground. (Reports are that the bidders' cars were parked along the same road as you see by the vehicles in the background of that photo up on the right, just a few yards uphill from that test trench and archaeologist Darrell Creel.)

Elk Ridge's ceramics and other antiquities are undoubtedly still scattered in private collections around the world.

Today's antiquities market notwithstanding, times have changed for Elk Ridge. Almost 30 years on, one portion of the site is now managed by the US Forest Service, and a second portion is under the control of a conservancy group. The alluvium of the West Fork of the Mimbres River that Mr. Laumbach mentioned continues to affect the site; in fact, past years' seasonal flash floods in an arroyo have already damaged a series of three pueblo rooms. The risk to other portions of the site increases with each rainy season. Accordingly, in 2015 a three-year preservation-and-salvage archaeological project was begun under the auspices of the University of Nevada at Las Vegas, led by Dr. Barbara Roth. 2018 is the last season of Dr. Roth's excavation, and on June 10, 2018, she and her crew (Field School undergraduate and graduate students plus some plucky volunteers) briefly paused in their work to explain their findings to us in the GCAS.

Daniel Perez UNLV  explains the dig - 2 with Katie BaustianOur guides for the morning, Daniel Perez (UNLV graduate student of anthropology, far right in the photo), and Katie Baustian (assistant professor of anthropology at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, NY, specializing in bioarchaeology and forensic anthropology, center of photo), explained to our group that during the six-week Field School the students and volunteers are performing essential activities including site-mapping, archaeological surveys of the surrounding area, ceramic and lithic analyses, and a lot of heavy, dusty dirt work in daily temperatures reaching the upper 90s. They have stabilized the arroyo's edge with low gabions in the areas of the site that appear most prone to damage and hope to coordinate with the neighboring conservancy group to extend their mitigation efforts further along the arroyo into the conservancy's property.

Next post: some of their findings...

/s/ webmaster

 

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