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.

Hummingbird Festival 2019
A New Book for the Avocational Archaeologist's Library

ENMU Excavation at City of Rocks State Park

Photo by Marianne Smith; © 2019 ENMU - All Rights ReservedIn July, 2019, professor Robert J. Stokes PhD of Eastern New Mexico University in Portales was Directing Archaeologist on an excavation of a small ruined structure located within the boundaries of City of Rocks State Park. The project's goals were to identify its walls, floors, and the overall nature of its construction to help determine its age and the purpose for which it had originally been built. Additionally Dr. Stokes sought to assess the context of the site within the surrounding landscape.

Photo by Marianne Smith; © 2019 ENMU - All Rights ReservedFor a full two weeks Dr. Stokes oversaw up to five ENMU students per day, with an equal number of volunteers hailing from the GCAS and elsewhere. Daytime highs between 93F and 102F impelled the crew to take frequent rests and water breaks. Crew members came and went, subject to their various schedules and heat tolerance. Unquestionably the individual working the longest and hardest under the bright New Mexico sun was Dr. Stokes himself.

This site, like so many others throughout New Mexico, showed many signs of past looting. Unsurprisingly the crew uncovered a small number of artifacts, but it appeared that it was not only looters who had picked the site clean. It seemed as if the original occupants had taken with them most everything of value when they decommissioned the structure centuries ago.

Photo by Marianne Smith; © 2019 ENMU - All Rights ReservedThere was no evidence that any burning of the structure had occurred, such as one might find in the ritual closure of a typical Mimbres-Mogollon ceremonial structure from the earlier Pithouse Period (about 750CE - 950CE). On the other hand the crew found no evidence such as abundant remnants of charcoal or food that would have suggested the structure had been used as a habitation. However, a small number of black-and-white bowl sherds suggested that this structure dated to the transitional-to-early Classic period between about 950CE - 1060CE when Mimbreños shifted from pithouses to pueblo village construction.

The structure was backfilled after completing excavations with the help of many GCAS volunteers. State Parks may build an interpretive trail with signage at the site to educate the public about its significance and to explain why its preservation is so important.

Photo 11 by Marianne Smith; © 2019 ENMU - All Rights ReservedObservations were made, opinions were exchanged, and preliminary conclusions were reached. Dr. Stokes will make his final assessment once the analyses of all the scientific data are complete, and will prepare a final report for State Parks and present findings at conferences, along with his students. We hope we may include Dr. Stokes's results right here on this website when he announces his findings.

Thank you, Dr. Stokes and crew, and City of Rocks State Park, for allowing the GCAS volunteers to help with this excavation.

/s/ webmaster


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