NEXT MEETING: Wednesday, June 19, 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 the group. At about 6:30PM we will have a brief business meeting followed immediately by our featured speaker, GCAS president Marianne Smith, who will discuss Images in Mimbres Pottery - Plainware to Classic. Consider some of the assumptions people make when trying to interpret Mimbres pottery and explore similarities in modern imagery. 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: SATURDAY, June 1, 2024, 12:00PM noon-4:00PM, Gough Park in Silver City: join the fun as the GCAS shifts our usual "first Sunday of the month" field trip one day earlier to the first Saturday of June to celebrate the main event of the 2024 centennial of the Gila Wilderness. The US Forest Service Wilderness Ranger District is hosting this event to commemorate the vital partnerships throughout the community that have contributed to the preservation of the Gila Wilderness over the past century. The GCAS is one among many such community organizations that will have a booth in Gough Park to showcase how people working together have preserved the world's first designated wilderness - a wilderness in our own back yard. Find out about this and more centennial events here.

2019 Archaeology Kid's Camp - Last Day to Sign Up
Meet Two Members of the Aldo Leopold Archaeology Crew

The Mills Collection

192 The_mills_collection_410-1696If you happen to be traveling along Highway 70 between Lordsburg, New Mexico, and Phoenix, Arizona, you may want to plan an extra 45 minutes to make a quick side trip when you reach Thatcher, Arizona. The Eastern Arizona College in Thatcher proudly displays the Native American artifacts collected from numerous sites throughout Arizona and New Mexico by the well-trained avocational archaeologists Jack and Vera Mills during the four decades from the 1940s through the 1970s. [Far left photo via; near left photo via]

Anasazi millsThe Mills's work was supported in part by the Arizona Archaeological Society and encouraged and mentored by the Amerind Museum. According to one source, Vera Mills alone restored all the pottery the two of them uncovered; and it was she who wrote all of the detailed archaeological reports on the sites they excavated. One Salado site in particular - the Kuykendall Site in southeastern Arizona - has suffered so much looting and ground-modification since the Mills's excavation in 1951, that their archaeological reports and the artifacts they collected there are essentially the sole remaining source for research regarding that location. [Photo on right via]

Jack Mills died in 1994 at age 102. Vera Marie Burton Mills died in 2000 at age 100. Their marriage had lasted more than 77 years. Anna Neuzil and Patrick Lyons wrote in 2005:

"Despite the fact that neither Jack nor Vera Mills had a degree in archaeology, they contributed significantly to the understanding of post-A.D. 1200 population movements in the Greater Southwest. The collections from each of the sites they excavated remain important resources for developing the archaeological understanding of later periods of prehistory. "

To see a photo of the Millses and their Collection as it existed before being donated to the Eastern Arizona College, click here. To see an example of Vera Mills's pottery restoration work and a portion of the Collection at about the time Eastern Arizona College took possession of it in 1983, click here.

The Mills Collection reportedly comprises not only some 600 pottery vessels, but also an extensive assemblage of tools, jewelry, basketry, and more. Not all of these artifacts are on display. The cultures represented by these artifacts include Mimbres-Mogollon, Salado, and Hohokam, to name but a few.

Visiting the collection is free and open to the public Monday through Friday, 8AM to 5PM. The tour is self-guided; brochures are available in front of the Admissions Office on the first floor, or you can download the same brochure here.

To get there, once in Thatcher turn southbound from Highway 70 onto Stadium Avenue. Drive about three or four blocks to the intersection of Stadium and Railroad Street. The Student Services Building is on the left at the corner of Stadium and Railroad. Parking is plentiful. Walk around the building to enter the main entrance on the east side of the building near the clock tower. Immediately inside the doors you will see in front of you the first five display cases of the Mills Collection. Prepare to have your breath taken away. And enjoy.

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Carrie VanSant

Hello. I am the great grand daughter of jack mills and would like to donate more artifacts to the collection. (530)8446709

Marianne Smith

Hello, Carrie. Thank you for reaching out about the artifacts you have. Perhaps the best approach is to start by contacting Eastern Arizona College at their main number, (928) 428-8472. Explain who you are and what you have, and they will connect you to whoever is in charge of your family's collection there. I would expect that they would be interested in what you have so that your family's collection of artifacts stays together in one place. However, if for some reason they can't accept your items, please contact us again and you and we can arrange to take care of them for you. Meanwhile, thank you for having kept them safe for so long!

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