Friday, March 29, 2019, 9:30 AM to ? Work party at the Mimbres Culture Heritage Site. Volunteer for indoor projects or to help guide local school students in their outdoor projects. No experience necessary!

NEXT MEETING: Wednesday, April 17, 2019, 6:00 PM. Meet at 2045 Memory Lane in Silver City, New Mexico. No potluck dinner but refreshments provided. Featured speaker: Chris Turnbow addresses "The Search for the Seventh Parrot.”

NEXT FIELD TRIP: Sunday, April 7, 2019. Old Town and the petroglyphs of Hidden Valley Ranch. Meet at 10:00 AM sharp at the rest area on Highway 180 southbound at Mile Marker 144.7, about 3 miles south of the Hwy 180/Hwy 61 junction. These will be short walks on easy-to-moderate terrain but keep your eyes and ears open because Rattlesnake Season has begun in earnest.


How to Manage a Potsherd Collection

One of many spirals on sitePeriodically this here blog addresses the issue of potsherds. We've addressed several reasons why today's avocational archaeologist should leave them where they are.

Sherd grouping  detailWe in the GCAS realize that in past decades it was considered acceptable to gather potsherds by the hatful and bucketful. Many people made a hobby out of collecting as many potsherds as they could carry. Unfortunately the novelty soon wore off so these collections tended to languish, forgotten, in a box somewhere. In our group's experience the collector's heirs eventually come across the sherds when clearing out their deceased family member's belongings. At that point, some sherd collections are no doubt thrown away in a landfill. Or dumped under a convenient tree. Or, sometimes, the heirs find the GCAS and donate them to us.

Continue reading "How to Manage a Potsherd Collection" »

Another Missing Mimbres Bowl

From the GCAS Library/Archives:

No photos of this particular bowl are known to exist, but the following description may be accurate enough that someone may recognize it if they have seen it. This bowl was reportedly unearthed on private ranch land located east of Silver City, New Mexico, at some time during the late 1970s through the 1980s.

It was described as "...a beautiful Mimbres Classic bowl...[depicting] a Mimbres warrior standing up with a shield on one arm and a three-pronged spear-headed staff in the other..."

The individual who excavated this bowl was not related to the landowners and it appears he did not have the landowners' permission to remove this artifact. However, it does not appear that the landowners made any report of theft to any law enforcement authorities. Nevertheless it was assumed at the time that the individual who took this bowl eventually sold it to either an intermediary or directly to a private collector.

If anyone encounters a bowl matching this description, either on display or in a photograph, you are welcome to contact the GCAS via this website so at the very least we may be able to alert the individual currently in possession of it.

/s/ webmaster

Representation of Color in Mimbres Black-on-White Ceramics

image from image from s3.amazonaws.comFor years, individual archaeologists have proposed that the blue-green color of turquoise was represented by the fine lines (aka hachure) in certain styles of Mimbres bowls, presumably as an appeal for water. Later archaeological study suggested that "...Mimbres hachure was likely representative of color but not necessarily blue-green. In fact, it may have referenced yellow. Yellow and blue are often paired among the Pueblos, and [there may have been] interregional differences in the meaning...."

Stephanie Whittlesey carried these findings further.

Continue reading "Representation of Color in Mimbres Black-on-White Ceramics" »

Volunteer Opportunities in Tucson via Archaeology Southwest

Are you interested in learning about Salado culture ceramics?

Are you a member of Archaeology Southwest, or willing to become one? image from

Are you in Tucson or are willing to travel there regularly?

Is your answer to each of these questions an enthusiastic "Yes!"?

If so, boy howdy does Archaeology Southwest have a wonderful opportunity for you!

Continue reading "Volunteer Opportunities in Tucson via Archaeology Southwest" »

Twenty Years Missing

From the GCAS Library/Archives:

At some time between 9:00 AM on February 2, 1998, and 11:00 AM on February 12, 1998, the three Mimbres ceramic bowls shown below were stolen from the Silver City, New Mexico, home of Juanita Frank:

Juanita Frank-Club Ranch 1998-02 bowl 3 Juanita Frank-Club Ranch 1998-02 bowl 2 Juanita Frank-Club Ranch 1998-02 bowl 1The theft was promptly reported to the Grant County Sheriff's Department, explaining that the artifacts had originally been found on Ms. Frank's family's ranch located east of Silver City. A newspaper report by the Silver City Daily Press dated March 11, 1998, published black-and-white photographs of all three bowls with the somewhat ambiguous description, "...They include a black-and-white bowl that is about 18 inches wide and 8 inches deep; a vessel that is 12 inches wide and 8 inches deep; and a smaller one. The unpainted portion of [one] bowl has been completed since the photograph was taken...."

Continue reading "Twenty Years Missing" »

Please Leave Potsherds Where You Find Them

Humans, like crows, are acquisitive by nature. We are attracted to pretty things and are Observe the classic GCAS Stoop while  examining potsherdsespecially intrigued when it's clear to us that other, ancient humans made the pretty things we find -- like the fascinating forms, lines, colors, and textures of potsherds.

Sherd grouping  as foundIn past decades, collecting potsherds - and even far more substantial artifacts - was considered a harmless pastime perhaps similar to collecting postage stamps. Archaeologists have spent more than a century analyzing hundreds of ceramic styles in the US Southwest and the locations where they have been found; so it would be easy to assume that a few potsherds more or less would make little scientific difference. 


Continue reading "Please Leave Potsherds Where You Find Them" »

Could All Archaeologists and Ceramics Experts Please Look At This?

So, over there on the right is a pair of sherds Dr. Barbara Roth and her UNLV crew recently recovered A most unusual botanical patternfrom the Elk Ridge archeological site in the Mimbres River Valley in southwestern New Mexico. To date no other fragment of the original ceramic has been found. We already posted this on our Facebook page so the person who reads our website should already be hip to this.

Serious now: The design appears unique. Neither professional archaeologist nor local avocational fan of ceramics has seen anything like it. Have any of you? If so, please - seriously, PLEASE - leave a comment and let us in the GCAS know when & where you have seen such images. We'd like to compare-and-contrast the images on these 2 ceramics fragments with wherever else the same or similar image has been found. Spill all the 411 you have. Photos appreciated. Because the more we all know, the more we all....know.

Everyone is also welcome to leave a comment as to your interpretation of what the heck is represented by these images. So far, we have serious folks saying it represents baskets with some kind of crop in them; maybe some kind of planting pattern for seedlings; but then, they notice that every other "basket" contains stalks with TWO top fronds instead of just ONE. Could it be, corn in two different stages of development? Two different kinds of the same crop?

Complicating the speculation is the presence of those dotted lines AND the overlaying solid line. It appears the frond-and-basket images are not anywhere inside the solid line. Plus, once inside the solid line, the dotted line continues, but TWO other concentric dotted lines appear INSIDE the solid line. Could the solid line or any one (or more) of the dotted lines be a trail? Crop demarcations? How far the irrigation went? image from safr.kingfeatures.comWhere my kid was playing (h/t Bil Keane)? Boundaries between "yours" and "mine" and "theirs"?

Or is the suggestion of agriculture just some kind of metaphor? Are we all just a few corn stalks in so many baskets, left unattended in a vast cosmic field?

On the other hand, some folks turn the image upside-down and see jellyfish. Lots and lots of jellyfish.

/s/ webmaster

GCAS Field Trip to Elk Ridge, Part II

Katie Baustian and Daniel Perez guide the tourThe June 10, 2018, GCAS field trip to the UNLV Field School's final season of excavation at Elk Ridge in the Mimbres River Valley was brief due to the warm summer temperatures, but our guides shared some of their findings that their excavations has yielded to date. Skidmore College assistant professor Katie Baustian (left, in photo) and UNLV graduate student Daniel Perez (second from left) discussed with us certain features of the Elk Ridge pueblo ruins that appear consistent with other sites; and other features they uncovered that seem less common.

Continue reading "GCAS Field Trip to Elk Ridge, Part II" »

The 2018 Archaeology Fair - June 30

image from www.archaeologysouthwest.orgOn June 30, 2018, from 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM (noon), Archaeology Southwest and the students of the University of Arizona/Tucson's Preservation Archaeology Field School will host an open house to showcase their ongoing work at the 14th-century Gila River Farm site in Cliff, New Mexico. [Photo via Archaeology Southwest.]

Archaeology Southwest describes this worthwhile project as "...committed to increasing the diversity of views represented in archaeology, including improving communication between archaeologists and nonprofessionals and between researchers with different backgrounds and training. Students from backgrounds and institutions traditionally underrepresented in archaeology (including small colleges and community colleges) are especially encouraged...."

The U of A Field School describes this year's project as a furtherance of archaeological work performed at the site and an investigation of the artifacts that have been recovered there, all of which indicate that the ancient pueblo community "...participated in the Salado ideology, which blended preexisting local traditions throughout the Southwest with traditions carried by migrants from the Kayenta area of northeastern Arizona. Key questions [for the 2018 field school] include what kinds of pottery the site’s residents made and used and how this reflects their social connections to other areas, how residents used local plants and animals, and where they obtained raw material for stone tools, particularly obsidian."

Details and directions to the open house in Cliff, New Mexico, are on this page here, but we recommend exploring the whole website as well as the links above.

The GCAS is making an official field trip to the open house on June 30. We hope to see you there!

/s/ webmaster


The Salmon Pueblo Archaeological Research Collection

image from Salmon Pueblo Archaeological Research Collection (SPARC) is an ongoing project and online resource that allows users to search over 140,500 records including approximately 13,000 photographs, 29,000 documents, and 24 data tables with information on particular artifact types, such as ceramics vessels, ornaments, and bone tools. These records were compiled during the comprehensive excavations of the Salmon Pueblo led by the late archaeologist Dr. Cynthia Irwin-Williams. SPARC notes that, thanks to Dr. Irwin-Williams and others, the Salmon Pueblo " the only Chacoan great house in the American Southwest to be comprehensively excavated in the last 40 years. "

(Photo by Kate Fallucca, 2007)

SPARC's goal is to "...enhance access to archaeological research on Chaco Canyon, New Mexico..." which includes not only the ruins within Chaco Canyon National Historic Park proper, but also those of the Salmon Pueblo some 45 miles distant and the ancient Puebloan roads that connected them. SPARC's work is especially important today, because all these ancient roads and structures - nonrenewable resources in and of themselves - are under threat of destruction from drilling by corporate interests in the extraction industry.

Visit SPARC today!

/s/ webmaster