NEXT MEETING: 6:00 PM, Wednesday, May 15, 2019, at the Roundup Lodge in San Lorenzo (Mimbres Valley). Potluck followed by general meeting, then our Featured Speakers: the GCAS's very own President, Kyle Meredith, and Josh Reeves regale us with: "Roughly Contemporaneous with Mimbres - an International Travelogue Slide Show."

NEXT FIELD TRIP: Due to conflicts with other events, the May field trip will be on SUNDAY, APRIL 28, 2019. Choose one of the field trips offered at the ASNM Meeting and contact President Kyle Meredith with your choice by email (kyyote@msn.com) or telephone (575) 538-5706.

New Techniques in the Study of Human Remains
Job Opening at Mesa Prieta Petroglyphs Project

Ever Heard of Lithophones?

image from encrypted-tbn0.gstatic.comSome time ago, and during a period of many years, a few archaeologists and various amateur collectors retrieved a number of oblong stone artifacts from the area around and including the Great Sand Dunes National Park in south-central Colorado. Eventually, many of the stones were given to the museum at Great Sand Dunes National Park where they remain stored today. [Photo of Great Sand Dunes artifacts via Archaeology Podcast Network.]

It was not especially unreasonable for archaeologists to first assume that they were an assortment of human-made manos (grinding stones) or some other kind of tool. However, they all seemed unusually large (up to two feet long) and heavy (up to ten pounds), with none of the typical wear patterns of manos. Archaeologist Marilyn Martorano spent over a decade working on the puzzle of what the stones may have been used for, if they were not manos. She recently happened upon an online video of a Paris museum's collection of similar stones that had been recovered in places as diverse as Africa, New England, Hawai'i, and New Mexico. The video demonstrated that these artifacts were not grinding stones at all, but musical percussion instruments - lithophones. (Click on that link to the video above, to hear the stones for yourself. Recommended!)

image from www.cpr.org image from www.cpr.orgDr. Martorano tested the Great Sand Dunes stones and determined that not only were they lithophones, but they were so precisely fashioned that each stone has a pair of dead spots so that the stones can be held with the fingers or suspended from a cord while they are played. [Both photos via Colorado Public Radio. Far right photo shows Dr. Martorano (L) and musician Andrea Martorano (R) via Colorado Public Radio.]

One of the Great Sand Dunes lithophones was dated to 5,000 years old, but archaeologists cannot determine the ages of the rest and there is no evidence to indicate who made them. In late 2018, Dr. Martorano added, “...Where did they get the rock to make these? And how old are they? We really don’t know a lot about that because many of these were picked up by collectors.”

Once again, people: for the sake of all of us having the chance to learn much more about our collective past, if you come across an artifact like this or of any other kind, leave it where it is and let scientists study them as-is.

/s/ webmaster

 

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