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 https://www.nps.gov/gicl/index.htm (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.

A New Book for the Avocational Archaeologist's Library
American Gothic the GCAS Way

What Do Volunteers Do at an Archaeological Excavation?

FSCN4286These days there are no lavish budgets for archaeological excavations, and paid crew positions are few (very few) and far (very far) between. With no money for lodging, the crew tend to camp out at or near the site for the duration of the project. Feeding the crew on a tight budget may involve a lot of pre-frozen mini-burritos.

FSCN4095 (2)The excavation has a Directing Archaeologist in charge of the project. Often there will be one or more other archaeologists supporting the Director by excavating and/or performing other essential work such as cataloguing artifacts, recording data, and performing materials analysis. Graduate and undergraduate students participating in the excavation gain hands-on experience in as many aspects of the work as they can. Sometimes - but not always - they earn class credits. However, on many excavations there are too few students available to get all the work done in the time allotted.

Thus you will frequently see on-site a group of enthusiastic volunteers, like the GCAS's own hard core of avocational archaeologists. A hardy few of us may occasionally camp out with the rest of the crew, but more often those of us in a certain age demographic prefer to go home at the end of each work day to our hot showers and soft beds.

Like the university students, we GCAS members learn a lot about archaeology by helping out where we are needed. The professional archaeologists and students clearly have priority to engage in the serious research, but we volunteers occasionally get good opportunities to do what the big kids do: measure excavation units, carefully excavate as the Directing Archaeologist instructs, screen the soil for artifacts, measure again, complete excavation reports, lather, rinse, repeat.

Photo 4 by Marianne Smith; © 2019 ENMU - All Rights Reserved Here we see GCAS volunteers clustered together with students and archaeologists, haunch to haunch, in their respective excavation units within a very small and cozy structure.

Photo 2 by Marianne Smith; © 2019 ENMU - All Rights ReservedOur GCAS President, Kyle Meredith, is undaunted by the reams of paperwork necessary to reliably document an archaeological excavation.

Photo 5 by Marianne Smith; © 2019 ENMU - All Rights Reserved Josh Reeves politely waits in the shade while other crew members meticulously measure areas abutting his own assigned unit.

Photo 5 by Marianne Smith; © 2019 ENMU - All Rights ReservedGCAS Board member Gary Barnett demonstrates the ultimate in screening prowess. Yes; the work is hot, heavy, and dusty but the rest of the crew rely on the screeners to spot everything from small potsherds and lithic flakes to plant and animal material. A screener only has to find one artifact to make the day worthwhile.

Every GCAS member is invited to join in the next archaeological excavation that comes along. Help out for one day or for the full length of the project - anything goes when you're a volunteer!

/s/ webmaster

 

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