NEXT MEETING: 6:00 PM, Wednesday, December 18, 2019: GCAS general meeting & Awesome Annual GCAS Potluck Christmas Party & White Elephant Extravaganza. Meet at Josh & Kyle's party house at 615 E. Skyview Drive. Annual Board of Trustees meeting begins ~ 5:30 PM, general meeting begins at 6 PM. Bring some potluck finger-food AND a wrapped white-elephant gift to exchange. Directions: From Hudson Street/Hwy 90 southbound from Silver City's downtown, turn left (southeast) onto Ridge Road where the Chevron gas station is on the southeast corner. Continue on Ridge Road a short ways and take the second left (eastbound) onto Skyview Drive. 615 Skyview will be a ways down the hill on the left.

NEXT FIELD TRIP = TBA.

Mexico Northwest

Following Paul E. Minnis, PhD

Minnis with pickMeet Dr. Paul Minnis. He earned his PhD at the University of Michigan in 1981 and holds the title of Professor Emeritus of Anthropology at the University of Oklahoma in Norman. During his career he has authored, co-authored, or edited at least 12 books in addition to having written numerous journal articles and book chapters. Now retired and living in Tucson, Arizona, he speaks at professional conferences and in more informal presentations to the general public on topics such as prehispanic trade and cultural networks; and how ancient farming practices can enhance our modern world's food supply.

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GCAS Field Trip to Paquimé, Part VI

Mexico dinner with group 3 - Mata Ortiz hotel portalTo read the full narrative of the great GCAS field trip of May 2-4, 2018, see Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, and Part V. 20 - Our field trip tour group  14 of 16

I have been remiss in not disclosing that our group dined - and well - while in Mexico. No photos were taken of the excellent seafood restaurant our guide Luis introduced us to in Janos; but we had a more traditional lunch experience in a small hotel in Mata Ortiz that had little trouble in providing our group of 16 gabachos with a classic lunch of chiles rellenos, tacos, and much, much more.  (h/t Marcia Corl for the dining photo up there on the left; webmaster focused instead on the chile ristras along the garden portal.)

Day 3: May 4, 2018. We arrived in Paquimé. The site's thick adobe walls may be slowly dissolving back into the earth, but it remains an awe-inspiring sight to look out over Paquimé's grand plaza, its ceremonial structures, and its residential areas comprising some 1700 rooms.

6 - Residential compound 7 - View of 2d-story floor timbers and floor grooves 12 - Small patio-plaza with drainage feature 16 - Room of 17 corners 11 - Doorway into small plaza + T-doorway with bowed lintel 8 - LtoR = Kyle  Kevin  Josh  Bob  Luis

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GCAS Field Trip to Paquimé, Part V

8 - Mata Ortiz 1930s-era churchTo read the complete narrative of the GCAS field trip of May 2-4, 2018, see Part I, Part II, Part III, and Part IV.

The second half of Day 2, May 3, 2018, comprised a tour of the area's historic structures, including a charming 1930s-era church in Juan Mata Ortiz.

In stark contrast to the small, well-tended church and grounds in Mata Ortiz, were 10 - Terrazas's Hacienda San Diegothe ruins of Hacienda San Diego, one of the mansions belonging to the early 20th-Century cattle baron Luis Terrazas. During the First Gilded Age, Luis Terrazas amassed a combined total of 7 million acres of ranch land, over 500,000 head of cattle, and a few hundred thousand head of horses, mules, and sheep. He was reputed at the time to be the largest individual land owner in the Americas. During the Mexican Revolution of 1916, Pancho Villa used his position as provisional governor to confiscate 11 - Hacienda San Diego portalTerrazas's land and slaughter all the livestock to feed the revolutionary army.

(This is an avocational archaeological website, so I will not personally comment upon the politics of the Terrazas-Villa era. I will leave it up to discerning websurfers to determine for themselves whether or not certain remarks are factually attributable to Luis Terrazas, such as, "Chihuahua comprises the largest part of my ranch," and "I am not from Chihuahua. Chihuahua is mine.")

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GCAS Field Trip Part IV: Marcia Corl, Today's Featured Photographer

Marcia Corl, an archaeology enthusiast from Las Cruces, joined us on our international field trip to Firing Ceramics in Juan Mata OrtizPaquimé. In today's post please enjoy some of her portraits of the people living and working in the ceramics center of Juan Mata Ortiz. All photos you see in this post are Marcia Corl's, EXCEPT this large one over here on the right. Marcia says that this particular one is a photo she took of another photo that she saw hanging in one of the Mata Ortiz galleries we visited. Marcia says that this is a portrait of Juan Quezada himself, shown firing Mata Ortiz ceramics the Old Skool way - using a flaming pile of wood and cow pies. However, an image of Juan Quezada seems to be an apt introduction to the rest of Marcia's own photos of the artisans and residents of his home town. (As always, hover on a photo for a caption; and click on any photo to enlarge.)

Marcia writes:

"​I had no idea what to expect when I learned I was able to go with this bright and energetic group to Mata Ortiz and Paquimé.  I had told myself that I was not going to spend any money on pots (which I had very little room for in my house), but the trip was going to be a learning experience anyway.  Never had seen Paquimé either. We The Young Artist saved the second day of the trip for the Mata Ortiz visit. I expected to drive up to some sort of Plaza where we would find everyone with their wares, but our first stop was at a little adobe house, where I thought Luis (our guide) maybe had some personal business, until we were all escorted into the private house of a potter.  The whole bus was going in!  She had 3 walls of the small front room lined in shelves of pottery, all hand thrown, and Potter fine detailsome hand painted with a single-hair brush. The prices were on tape written in dollars below the beautiful objects, ranging from 5 dollars to 200 dollars.  The table she was to demonstrate the fine painting was on the 4th wall.  We all watched with bated breath while she marked the finely decorated white clay pot with a repeat pattern of burnt orange paint between the tiny black design already there. 

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GCAS Field Trip to Paquimé, Part III

1 - Mata Ortiz detail work Potter fine detailTo read the complete narrative of the GCAS field trip of May 2-4, 2018, see Part I here, and Part II here.

Day 2: May 3, 2018. Shopping day in the artisans' town of Mata Ortiz. Because the Grant County Archaeological Society embraces art and culture in all its forms. (h/t Marcia Corl for close-up photo of fine ceramics detailing.)

Juan Mata Ortiz is a town of about 1200 people located several miles south- 5 - LtoR  Kevin  Meem and Lee examine potssouthwest of Nuevo Casas Grandes, Chihuahua, Mexico. It was established in the late 19th Century  as "Pearson," but after the 1916 Mexican Revolution it renamed itself "Juan Mata Ortiz" in memory of an army colonel and local hero who had fought against the Apache. The town's economy had been based exclusively on agriculture, but beginning in the late 1970s/early 1980s a ceramics tradition began to develop that now provides the town and its inhabitants with a more stable and diverse economy than agriculture alone had afforded.

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GCAS Field Trip to Paquimé, Part II

IMG_423125 - Olla - photographing the cliff face May 2, 2018, the first day of our GCAS international field trip to archaeological and 33 - Yep  Golondrina historic sites in Chihuahua, Mexico, was windy and action-packed. We hiked for about 1/3 mile from La Cueva de la Olla crossing a shallow stream and the valley floor, up a short, steep path to the cave and cliff dwellings of La Cueva de la Golondrina ("Cave of the Swallow"). Occupation of this site has been dated to roughly 1000-1050 CE; somewhat more recent and for a shorter duration than La Cueva de la Olla. (h/t Marcia Corl for far left image.)

One of the structures in La Cueva de la Golondrina (see photo over here on the right) was built in a unique 27 - Golondrina circular cliff dwellingcylindrical shape, yet it and the other more conventional, rectangular-shaped adobe rooms at this site used the same defensive techniques of small ventilation windows and narrow, low, T-shaped doorways that seem typical of cliff dwellings of this era throughout northwest Mexico and southwest US.

31 - Golondrina far L wall's carved steps 32 - Golondrina far L wall porthole detail with lintelsFacing the cave, the cliff dwellings on the far left appeared more intact than those at La Cueva de la Olla; their walls extended all the way to the cave's roof. Slim rows of latillas in the upper parts of small ventilation windows remained in place despite graffiti etched into the surrounding adobe. Steps carved into the sloping rock were still usable to climb up to the cave floor (see photo on far left). The fine sand of the cave floor itself appeared uniformly flat and smooth, even into the cave's furthermost recesses.

Facing the cave along its upper right side, a long panel of white-painted pictographs came into view.

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GCAS Field Trip to Paquimé, Part I

22 - Olla - LtoR= GB  Luis  site steward  Marcia  Anne  KM  Kevin  unk  JuliaThe three-day GCAS international field trip to Paquimé, Chihuahua, Mexico, May 2-4, 12 - Tour guide Luia Benavidez2018, was a great success. A total of 16 hardy souls participated: four from El Paso; one from Las Cruces; one from Santa Fe; and ten from assorted locales around Grant County, New Mexico. Our tour guide, Luis Benavidez, and his associate, Oscar, took very good care of us while introducing us to points of interest all over the place. That's Luis, over there in that photo on the right.

May 2 found our group in two vans, checking in with Mexican Immigration in Palomas and then riding for about three hours from there to the greater Nuevo Casas Grandes area. Our first archaeological destination of the trip was among the windswept mountains of 6 - Olla  valley floorthe Sierra Madre Occidental near the town of Ignacio Zaragoza. We visited cliff 26 - Trail from Olla to Golondrinas with Rio Piedras Verdesdwellings in two separate cliff-side caves along the valley of the Rio Piedras Verdes. Luis explained to us that millennia ago this region was somewhat similar to the Mimbres River in New Mexico, in that archaeological sites of small groups of dwellings have been found every few miles along the river and its fertile valley. Human occupation in certain parts of this valley has been dated to 5500 BCE.

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Prehispanic Burial Practices

This link goes to an article that's from January 2017, but I stumbled across it in preparing for next week's GCAS field trip to the Paquimé/Casas Grandes area of Chihuahua, Mexico.

Archaeologists have known that burial practices in Paquimé (an important agricultural and trading center by about 1100 CE), sometimes included reburials of partial human remains with ceramics and other grave goods. Archaeologists determined that Paquimé was a trading hub by some of the artifacts they had excavated there - item such as seashells and the remains of macaws, which clearly had to have been transported hundreds of miles to Paquimé from Mexico's seacoast and Mesoamerica's tropical jungles. However, evidence has recently emerged that trade between the inland high desert communities and those of the tropical lowlands may have begun centuries earlier.

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