It's been a long time coming - 16 months to be exact - but the GCAS field trip program is gradually reemerging from its Pandemic Pause. Our group jumped at the chance to inaugurate our New Normal by visiting the Gila River Farm archaeological site near Cliff, New Mexico, on June 26, 2021. Our group's friend, Dr. Karen Schollmeyer of Archaeology Southwest, and her field school crew shared with us the latest results of their work at their annual Archaeology Fair.
The GCAS's very own President, Kyle Meredith, shared some photos of the Springtime Southwestern desert in our May 2020 GCAS newsletter. His photos of his and his companions' trip to the Gila Box in Arizona - at all times mindful of proper pandemic protocols - are reprised here in case anyone missed them or would enjoy seeing them again. Looking at Kyle's photos, we can smell the exquisite floral scent that we locals know only happens for a few short days when the desert is in full bloom.
The Natives who built that cache in the small overhang in Kyle's photo (far left) must have enjoyed the desert's fleeting Springtime bloom too. We have experiences in common with those who have come before.
Thank you, Kyle, for leading all of the GCAS along on your field trip!
/s/ webmaster [all photos, Kyle Meredith]
Providence Cone is located east of Deming, jutting upward from the surrounding flatlands. Locals know it as Rattlesnake Peak and there is a good reason for that name. As long as one stays alert Providence Cone makes for a good wintertime field trip as twenty-eight hardy GCAS members demonstrated on February 2, 2020.
Features of interest in the easier, more level portions of the area include a few difficult-to-find petroglyphs and grinding holes, and an area of rubbing rocks where megafauna like mastodon and bison groomed themselves some 10,000 years ago.
Following is more speculation about the images of three separate fish the GCAS observed on their December 2019 field trip to the San Diego Mountain "Three-Fish" petroglyph site. Your faithful webmaster proposes that they are not fantasy images but instead are relatively factual representations of three separate fish species, at least two of which may have been marine fish - in other words, fish not local to the rivers and lakes of the desert Southwest but to Mexico's Gulf of California.
Up above there is the petroglyphic image of Fish Number One - it measures about 22 inches long by about 10 inches high. Note the rounded head, dorsal fins set far back, and the broad tail. I venture to guess that this petroglyph may be a fair and accurate representation of either a California opaleye or a Pacific porgy. The California opaleye (photo left, upper fish) inhabits coastal waters from California south along the Baja peninsula and into the Gulf of California and can reach a bit over two feet in length. The Pacific porgy (photo right) is found from Baja California and the Gulf of California to Peru. They also reach a maximum of two feet long.
Does any fisherperson out there have samples of other possible contenders?
So far there has been no feedback to the questions posed by the fish images among the petroglyphs at the Three Fish Site, the destination of the December 2019 GCAS field trip. Therefore your faithful webmaster will present her own suppositions.
Let's begin by assuming that each of the three fish petroglyphs are factual representations of three certain fish species, made approximately to scale. Secondly, let's suppose that whoever created the fish petroglyphs may not necessarily have recorded a fish that had been caught locally, but that the artist(s) had at one time or another seen such a fish somewhere in their travels and was recording the fish from memory.
The GCAS's informal name for the site of our December field trip was inspired by the three separate petroglyphs of three different fish in three different places. Every reader of this here blog is invited to ponder the images and give us their opinions of what species of fish each image may represent. Over there on the right is Fish Number One - a stand-alone petroglyph about 22 inches across by 10 inches high, more or less. (No one measured.)
On December 8, 2019, 22 GCAS members congregated southeast of Hatch, New Mexico, to visit a petroglyph site most of us had never seen before. Weather forecasts threatened rain but luckily the trip stayed dry and overcast with wind increasing in the early afternoon; near-perfect conditions for photographing petroglyphs. The trail was generally easy to moderate, but one difficult section required scrambling across a canyon's side along a steep patch of rock that would have been impossible to safely traverse when wet.
Today's Guest Blogger is our very own GCAS President, Kyle Meredith, accompanied by Guest Photographer and GCAS Field Trip Coordinator, Greg Conlin. Together they report on a very satisfying visit to the Fort Bowie National Historic Site in southeastern Arizona:
We couldn’t have asked for better weather on our field trip to Ft. Bowie. Greg and Josh and Kyle arrived at the Tyrone parking lot way too early, but were gratified when new member, David Burr, and veteran member, Janet DeLoache, showed up for the adventure. We were all able to fit into one car (with Greg’s little dog Layla) and arrived at the trailhead ready for lunch before heading up the trail. We traveled as a pack, each asking questions and sharing our observations about the vegetation, landscape, and signage on the loop to and from the fort.
For those unfamiliar with Old Pueblo Archaeology Center [photo on right via OPAC], it is an organization headquartered in Tucson, Arizona, devoted to education and preservation of historic and archaeological sites and artifacts throughout the region of the US Southwest and Mexico Northwest. They serve as a clearinghouse for events, tours, educational programs, and volunteer opportunities for individuals including students of all ages, professionals, and interested nonprofessionals.
The second phase of our August 4, 2019, GCAS field trip found us traveling from the Microwave Site to examine the site at C-Bar Ranch. Like the Microwave Site, the C-Bar Ranch Site comprises some Late Period pithouses and the ruins of more recent pueblo rooms. And like Microwave, C-Bar is well known and convenient to locals and so continues to be heavily looted to this day.
The approach to the C-Bar site criss-crosses arroyos and passes rock outcrops hosting venerable prickly pear colonies. Abundant lichens on the rocks testify to the clean air which makes for a good, healthy walk (right photo).
Big photo on left up there shows all that that remains of the site's pueblo walls. Scattered by looters and people who either didn't know any better or didn't care.