NEXT MEETING: Wednesday, May 15, 2024, 6:00 PM: our monthly meeting shifts to the Roundup Lodge in San Lorenzo (Mimbres Valley) for the summer months. Doors open at 6PM for a potluck dinner so bring your own plates, utensils, and a dish for yourself or to share with the group. Brief GCAS business meeting begins at 6:30 PM followed immediately by our evening's Featured Speaker, Preservation Anthropologist Aaron Wright PhD, who will present Indigenous Rock Imagery of the Sonoran Desert. Members and non-members alike are welcome to join us for an evening of good food and an engaging discussion. In order to offer our members a safe and comfortable experience at our in-person meetings the GCAS recommends each attendee take the masking, distancing, and vaccination precautions they feel are appropriate for themselves in group gatherings.

NEXT FIELD TRIP: Sunday, May 5, 2024: we aim for an unnamed Mimbres site on Fort Bayard/USFS land. Meet our trip leader, the GCAS's own Torie Grass, at the Big Tree parking lot (USFS directions are here), about a half hour's drive from Silver City. The group will start from the trailhead at 10AM sharp for a hike of about a mile one-way, north past the USFS Hot Shot buildings. The trail is mostly flat, with an incline up to a ridge at the end to reach the site. Torie advises to bring water and a lunch if desired, and to dress with appropriate pants for walking through some dry, stickery brush. Let's go!

Twenty Years Missing
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Paleoindian-Era: Use of Wild Potatoes

Many avocational archaeologists are familiar with the evidence that indicates that people in the Southwest began cultivating and eating a variety of corn during the Archaic Period in about 2100 BCE. In contrast, archaeological excavations in Utah have revealed that people had been harvesting, cooking, and eating wild potatoes as early as 8000-9000 BCE.

The article linked to here is from a year ago, but includes special items of interest for our area in Southwest New Mexico.

image from wnmu.eduArchaeologists in Utah successfully tested manos and metates excavated from a certain Paleoindian-Era site for granules of potato starch. They identified these granules as coming from a species of potato that still exists in the US Southwest: Solanum jamesii, the "Four Corners potato." In Utah, this potato plant can still be found - mainly near archaeological sites. But of special interest to those of us here in Grant County, is the directing archaeologist's observation that the "...small, white-flowered S. jamesii plant is found in shady spots around the Southwest, particularly in New Mexico."

[Photo via WNMU, by Russ Kleinman & Richard Felger, Pinos Altos Range, CD trail above the arrastra, Aug. 18, 2008.]

It appears that certain Pueblo tribes, notably the Hopi and Zuni, used these wild potatoes into recent times. The Hopi have explained that the most reliable way to make these potatoes edible was “ boil the potatoes in a white clay to draw out the toxins..." The article further notes that this particular white clay the Hopi used is "...similar to the one from which the potteries are made.”

Read all the exciting details here, at Western Digs. It appears we avocational archaeologists will have to approach Kleinman and Felger to help us all become paleobotanists as well, the better to identify a plant that is still with us and may have sustained people in the Mimbres-Mogollon region for thousands of years.

/s/ webmaster




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