NEXT MEETING: Wednesday, May 18, 2022, 6PM: the GCAS is thrilled to announce this year's first general meeting IN PERSON at the Roundup Lodge in San Lorenzo (Mimbres Valley) near the junction of Highways 152 and 35! Start at 6PM with your own plates/utensils/beverage & a dish for yourself or to share. Brief general meeting at 6:45 PM. Skip social time if you like but our Featured Speaker, the WNMU Museum's new Director and archaeologist, Danielle Romero, makes her presentation on Elk Ridge Ceramics at 7PM sharp. Danielle, a ceramics specialist with years of investigating Mimbres and other sites, will make her topic most engaging. Read more about Danielle here. 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, June 5, 2022 - Park Service-guided visit to TJ Ruin at the Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument. Meet at the Cliff Dwellings Visitor Center parking lot no later than 10:50 am, tour to begin at 11:00 am. Drive north on Highway 15/Pinos Altos Rd for about 45 miles from US 180 in Silver City. Drive can take as much as 2 hours! Site is reached via a short hike to the top of a 100 ft bluff. Site is not shaded! Dogs are not allowed on the site and cannot be left in vehicles or tied up in the parking lot. NOTE: the area is currently experiencing heavy smoke impacts from the Black Fire. Check this website and the Park Service website at (Alerts) the day before/morning of the field trip to see current status of the field trip and area conditions. Remember, to protect vulnerable resources we offer our field trips to members only. Members’ invited guests are welcome, as long as they ride in that member’s vehicle.

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 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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