NEXT MEETING: Wednesday, April 19, 2023: the GCAS meets at 2045 Memory Lane in Silver City, New Mexico. Light refreshments provided; OK to bring your own light snacks or handy meal (burrito, etc.) & beverage if desired. Doors open at 5 PM for socializing. Meeting starts at 5:30 PM sharp with a short business meeting followed at 5:45 PM by featured speaker and GCAS member Carolyn O’Bagy Davis, who will discuss Bert and Hattie Cosgrove, avocational archaeologists who were instrumental in documenting and preserving a number of local sites including Arenas Valley's Treasure Hill. Meeting to adjourn about 7:00 PM. In order to offer our members a safe and comfortable experience the GCAS follows CDC and New Mexico Department of Health guidelines for indoor gatherings including masking, distancing, and vaccinations. We recommend all attendees follow the same.

NEXT FIELD TRIP: Sunday, April 2, 2023, beginning 9:00 AM: Regular GCAS field trip to City of Rocks State Park - view remnants of Apache shelters along the Cienega Trail, plus features in other easy-access locations like a rock shelter, Apache petroglyph, kiva, and multiple mortar holes. City of Rocks is about a 1-hour drive one-way from Silver City. At 9:00 AM meet at the Cienega Trail trailhead parking (a few hundred yards from the Highway 61 turnoff to the City of Rocks - look on the left side of the road for a parking area with a Port-o-Let). Walk the 1-mile easy Cienega Trail loop to inspect some off-trail features. About 11:00 AM, non-hikers can join the rest of the group to learn about the kiva site a few yards from the Visitor Center. About 11:15 AM, drive round the park’s perimeter road to the north side to view the rock shelter, Apache petroglyph, and mortar holes (short but moderately steep walk uphill from area near campsite #35). Picnic lunch follows at any convenient unoccupied campsite.

Happy Birthday To Us!
12,000-Year-Old Paleoindian Footprints in New Mexico

Please Leave Potsherds Where You Find Them

Humans, like crows, are acquisitive by nature. We are attracted to pretty things and are Observe the classic GCAS Stoop while  examining potsherdsespecially intrigued when it's clear to us that other, ancient humans made the pretty things we find -- like the fascinating forms, lines, colors, and textures of potsherds.

Sherd grouping  as foundIn past decades, collecting potsherds - and even far more substantial artifacts - was considered a harmless pastime perhaps similar to collecting postage stamps. Archaeologists have spent more than a century analyzing hundreds of ceramic styles in the US Southwest and the locations where they have been found; so it would be easy to assume that a few potsherds more or less would make little scientific difference. 


From an archeological or historical perspective, every potsherd conveys a lot of information about One of many spirals on site its location - but only if it remains in that location and maintains its relationship not just to the site but to all the other potsherds, artifacts, and structures found there. Archaeologists have developed a system in which researchers can look at a sherd or vessel, recognize its pottery type, know where and when it was made; and from that information determine when people lived at the site, who they may have traded with, or where they may have migrated from. Thus, the more potsherds and other artifacts that remain in place at a given site, the more complete information they will yield and the more accurate will be the archaeologists' scientific assessments of Puebloan culture and our country's heritage.

MS found a spindle-whorlIn contrast, when a casual visitor removes potsherds from their original location, they lose almost all their value as information. They are useless to archaeologists because they have lost all context. They are useless to most persons collecting them except as a temporary amusement. Depending upon where the casual visitor has picked them up, the collection of potsherds may be an act of disrespect to important Puebloan family heritage and ceremonial practices; and may even be illegal. Ultimately, when the casual collector's curiosity fades the potsherds are likely to just be thrown away.

A final argument: Too much has been taken already. Almost all the Mimbres archaeological sites Greg and 2 of 9 have endured many decades of major looting. None of us need any more artifacts - even the potsherd fragments that looters have left behind. The sheer volume of potsherds and other artifacts already sitting in dark storage in the bowels of museums, let alone in private collections, never to be seen by the public or researched by scholars, is overwhelming.

Joan's coatimundi and coati-sherd SketchingThe GCAS would gently suggest that you follow our group's practice: Find a sherd? (1) Pick it up or (2) leave it in place and (3) photograph it and/or (4) make a sketch of it and when and precisely where you found it. Finally, (5) put it back and (6) walk away, satisfied!

/s/ webmaster


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)