NEXT MEETING: Wednesday, January 16, 2019, at 6:00 PM, at 2045 Memory Lane in Silver City, New Mexico. No potluck dinner but refreshments provided. Featured speaker: GCAS's own Joseph A. Bryce, Assistant Curator of History and Exhibitions at the Silver City Museum, will discuss "The Fremont Culture in Utah."

NEXT FIELD TRIP: By tradition there is NO field trip in January, but watch this space for future info on one or more possible work parties at the GCAS's library room at the Mimbres Culture Heritage Site. Inventory and organizing opportunities galore!

Puebloan Culture

Holiday Gift Ideas for the Archaeologically-Inclined

We all have that certain someone on our holiday gift list. They're the kind of person who spends a fair amount of time outdoors, exploring untold numbers of historic and ancient sites in remote locations...volunteering as a site steward to protect such sites from vandalism and looting...and spending their indoor time reading and learning even more about the places they like the best.

If you're stumped by what to give to your favorite archaeo-nerd this holiday season, you may find the following suggestions helpful:

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Turkey Tales

image from wildturkeyzone.com image from www.nwtfhuagoulds.org image from i0.wp.comAs the traditional US Thanksgiving feast is hard upon us and one's thoughts turn to a roast bird with all the trimmin's, one might pause to reflect on the turkeys of yore.

Archaeogenetecists have been hard at work collecting and analyzing the DNA of the remains of several dozen turkeys recovered from archaeological sites throughout Mexico and the US Southwest. The remains have been dated within ranges from 300 BCE to 1500 CE and they showed that several distinct species were raised in different regions of the Americas. These birds included the South Mexican wild turkey, the Rio Grande wild turkey (left photo), Gould's wild turkey (center), and the Yucatan's ocellated turkey (right).

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A New Book for Your Library

The University of Arizona Press has published an enticing new volume of the latest in Mimbres area archaeology. Avocational archaeologists as well as professionals will recognize some or all of the 30 contributing authors whose experience in the Mimbres region reflects many decades of dedicated field work and research. Edited by Drs. Barbara Roth, Patricia Gilman, and Roger Anyon, this 288-page book is available in both hard-copy and electronic editions.

List price is $65 but scroll down in the flyer below to find a sweet 30% discount coupon for hip people like you who are In The Know:

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DNA Sequencing Applied to Non-Human Remains

This final post in our DNA trilogy concerns how the genetic analysis of non-human remains enhances the archaeologist's understanding of the past human culture they are investigating. And sometimes opens more and unexpected avenues of research to pursue.

image from upload.wikimedia.orgArchaeologists have studied the remains of 14 scarlet macaws recently unearthed from five different New Mexico sites including Chaco Canyon and the Mimbres region. Macaws' feathers were highly valued not just by the macaws themselves, but by Ancestral Puebloans and other cultures throughout the US Southwest.

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DNA Sequencing in Chaco Canyon

This article via Western Digs is a year-and-a-half old, but it discusses the application of DNA technology image from www.pnas.org to burials that are much closer to the GCAS's home than Denisova cave.

The burials were found in Room 33, aka the Gambler's House, of Pubelo Bonito in Chaco Canyon. [Figure on right via Stephen Plog and Carrie Heitman, Hierarchy and Social Inequality in the American Southwest, A.D. 800-1200.]

From the Western Digs article: "They were interred in what’s been described as “the richest burial known in the Southwest” — 14 men and women buried over the course of 330 years in the same crypt, some accompanied by pieces of pottery and pendants, others lavished with thousands of turquoise and shell beads....And new analysis of DNA from the 14 sets of remains shows that these elites weren’t merely members of the same influential class — indeed, they were all members of the same extended family, a “dynasty” that traced its ancestry to a single woman...."

Webmaster says check it out!

/s/ webmaster


Paleoindian-Era: Use of Wild Potatoes

Many avocational archaeologists are familiar with the evidence that indicates that people in the Southwest began cultivating and eating a variety of corn during the Archaic Period in about 2100 BCE. In contrast, archaeological excavations in Utah have revealed that people had been harvesting, cooking, and eating wild potatoes as early as 8000-9000 BCE.

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Have You Visited the Amerind Museum Yet?

image from upload.wikimedia.orgIf you have ever traveled along Interstate 10 in Arizona between Willcox and Benson, you may have spotted a small roadside sign in the Dragoon Mountains [photo on left via Creative Commons] directing you to the Amerind Museum off of Exit 318. The idea of a museum located in such a beautiful natural setting may have piqued your interest, but at 75 mph you were already past the exit to give much thought to a detour.

How about taking a detour there now?

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Chaco Canyon Petroglyph: Solar Eclipse or Coronal Mass Ejection?

Petroglyphs are open to interpretation - wide open - because the artists who pecked them into image from dur-cjweb.newscyclecloud.comthe rock left no written explanation of the images and little to no oral history to guide the present-day viewer. Therefore, all interpretations can be considered. Total eclipse or coronal mass ejection? Could be either. Could be both.

In 1992, the image on the right there [via The Journal] was discovered on a rock panel by participants of a field school/archaeological excavation in Chaco Canyon. (Such a find is reason enough to volunteer for a field school.) It looks like an image of the sun to most people. The rock panel on which it was pecked is now named Piedra del Sol (Rock of the Sun) in its honor. However, it might depict more than just an artistic sun design.

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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. 

However:

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Offered Without Comment

Oops! Federal officials divulge secret info about Native American artifacts

This story was originally published by Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting, a nonprofit news organization based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Learn more at revealnews.org and subscribe to the Reveal podcast, produced with PRX, at revealnews.org/podcast.

Federal officials mistakenly published confidential information on locations and descriptions of about 900 ancient cliff dwellings, spiritual structures, rock art panels and other Native American antiquities in Utah.

The Bureau of Land Management posted a 77-page report online that included unique identifiers for priceless artifacts as it prepared to auction the most archaeologically rich lands ever offered for industrial use. The report exposed ruins spanning 13,000 years of Native American history to vandalism and looting, and experts say the BLM violated federal regulations that prohibit publicly sharing information about antiquities.

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