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Updates from the Field
Deborah Huntley: Mule Creek 2010
The third field season at Mule Creek, New Mexico, was as productive and enjoyable as ever. Katherine Dungan and Rob Jones began in mid-May by finishing site recording and mapping from the previous season. The field team and I joined Rob and Katherine in early June. Linda Pierce came along to serve as cook and camp manager.
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|Rob Jones and trusty pick at the Fornholt site near Mule Creek, New Mexico.
We spent the next two weeks identifying and mapping walls at the 13th-century Fornholt Site. Thanks to everyone’s hard work, we exposed the tops of many of the masonry walls. We now have a much better sense of how the two roomblocks were laid out and how the walls were constructed. And, thanks to Mike Brack of Desert Archaeology, Inc., we have a fantastic 20 cm contour map. Last but certainly not least of this season’s achievements is a series of beautiful aerial photographs taken by Henry Wallace.
The crew included Jane Carmack and Lindsey Romaniello (Hendrix College), Meghan Trowbridge (University of Arizona), and Dr. Suzanne Eckert (Texas A&M). Additional help came from Elizabeth May (University of Arizona), Katy Putsavage and Kellam Throgmorton (University of Colorado), and Kim Sonderegger. Our many interesting visitors provided much food for thought about the site and our ongoing interpretation of the data.
Our biggest gratitude goes to our generous hosts, Alex and Susie Jerome, and the caretakers of their property, Juan and Ramona Arras. Alex and Susie also hosted a community barbecue in late August, which gave us a special opportunity to share the results of our work with Mule Creek neighbors and friends.
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|Leigh Anne Ellison and Saul Hedquist.
Andy Laurenzi: Tonto National Forest 2010
This summer, archaeologists Saul Hedquist and Leigh Anne Ellison were hired by the Center to conduct site damage and condition assessments of ninety-six prehistoric sites on the Tonto National Forest. The project received funding support from the National Trust for Historic Preservation and other environmental partners, and was done in cooperation with the Forest. Our goal was to create a knowledge base that would enable the funding partners to more effectively participate in upcoming travel management and forest planning discussions at the Tonto National Forest.
Most of the assessed sites are significant habitation sites dating between A.D. 600 and 1400. These sites include prominent architectural features such as roomblocks and platform mounds. As such, most are listed on the National Register of Historic Places or are register-eligible. Likewise, the Tonto National Forest designates many of them as Priority Heritage Assets. Unfortunately, their size and visibility also make these sites more attractive to human visitors—and, by extension, more vulnerable to vandalism and damage from recreational uses.
Deleterious impacts related to human activity were evident at 90% of the assessed sites. Although most of the observed damage was decades old, more recent damage—within the past five years—was encountered at fifteen sites. Fourteen of those are located within 500 meters of a Forest Service (FS) road. In general, sites located further from FS roads were found in better condition than those nearer to roads.
Although the factors influencing site damage and overall condition are complex and particular to each site, our data indicate that when a road open to motorized vehicle use is near a site, it can facilitate damage in two ways. First, it increases the likelihood that a vehicle traveling off-road will encounter a site and impact it (e.g., tire damage). Second, looters gain easier and faster access to a site.
These findings are consistent with recent studies on lands administered by the Bureau of Land Management. Our findings also suggest that public land managers should strongly consider closing roads to motorized use if those roads provide easy access to these types of cultural resources.
Interestingly, prominent signage indicating penalties for violating the Archaeological Resource Protection Act of 1979 (ARPA) may be helpful. ARPA signs were observed at fourteen sites, most of which were located near regularly used FS roads. Only one signed site had sustained recent damage. Monitoring of road-accessible sites by site stewards should constitute another effective measure—indeed, we already know the important role these dedicated volunteers play in managing cultural resources on public lands.
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|Pat Stein on the Joe Kellam Ranch, northeast of Flagstaff, Arizona.
Long-time supporter Pat Stein was appointed as the Center’s Preservation Advocate in the fall of 2009. Pat is the proprietor of Arizona Preservation Consultants, which is based in Flagstaff, Arizona. Pat shares her thoughts on her goals for this appointment and preservation in the region.
As an archaeologist and historian, have you always been focused on preservation? When or why did preservation become central to your work?
The seed was planted early but took time to sprout. At the age of about 12, when my family was struck by one sad event after another, I found strength, comfort, and beauty in the historic buildings and landscapes of our Rhode Island village. But then, through high school and college, I ricocheted from one career option to another before archaeology stuck. Only gradually did the realization come that heritage resources were fragile, and would disappear if we didn’t take care of them. By the end of graduate school I’d become a budding preservationist.
You have more than 30 years’ experience working in Arizona. What project or outcome are you most proud of?
Shortly after moving to Arizona in 1975, I volunteered with a group that was working to place downtown Flagstaff on the National Register of Historic Places. That grassroots effort marked the first phase in transforming our downtown from a seedy has-been to the vibrant place it is today. I visit the downtown daily, and derive joy in having played a part in the process of positive change.
How would you describe your role as Preservation Advocate? What has this appointment made possible?
Through the affiliation with a non-profit preservation organization—the Center for Desert Archaeology—I was appointed to the Historic Preservation Advisory Committee (HPAC). Its role is to advise Arizona State Parks on preservation projects relating to the Arizona Heritage Fund. Aside from bringing an archaeological perspective to HPAC, I hope to play a role in restoring the Arizona Heritage Fund. It will be an uphill battle, but a worthy one.
Many of the Center’s supporters are very concerned about the closures of several state parks in Arizona. In your opinion, what steps could be taken to protect and preserve cultural heritage at these locations?
Taking the long view, I believe a sustainable state parks system will require several ingredients. First and immediately, a sea change must occur in state government. Voters need to elect candidates who realize the value of state parks to Arizona’s economy, cultural life, and general well-being. Second, members of the public should form fundraising “friends of” associations for each state park, to solicit grants, cultivate sponsorships, and start endowments. Third, the state parks board needs to resist future pressures from legislators to create parks in those politicians’ home districts if the properties might more appropriately and successfully be managed as local (i.e., county, city) parks rather than as state ones.
I remain hopeful that the state parks will survive the hardships being inflicted upon them. To believe otherwise is to admit that Arizona has entered the Postclassic.
Support Arizona’s many state parks! Locations, upcoming programs, and hours of operation for each of the parks may be found at the Arizona State Parks website. More information about the Historic Preservation Advisory Committee may be found here.
The Center’s first-ever benefit book sale will take place in the Bates Mansion (southwest corner of Stone Avenue and Franklin Street, downtown Tucson) on Saturday, December 4, 2010, from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Members-only preview begins at 9:00 a.m. Area residents will find thousands of recently donated, gently used books on regional archaeology, geology, ethnology, botany, wildlife, and hiking. The Center’s own in-stock, in-print publications and other selected books will be available at a 50% discount for both in-person and online sales—while quantities last! (Unfortunately, we cannot offer used books online.) Online sale begins December 4 and ends December 5. www.archaeologysouthwest.org/store.
Tip a glass and ask a question at Archaeology Café! This season’s powerhouse schedule is posted here.
Did you enjoy the Tucson Underground issue of Archaeology Southwest? Don’t miss the incredible array of additional content here.
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|Bill Doelle in Mule Creek, New Mexico
Bill Doelle (pictured here with a friend at the Mule Creek barbecue) received the Arizona Archaeological and Historical Society’s Victor R. Stoner Award for Outstanding Contributions to Public Archaeology.
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|Demion Clinco and Donna Tang
Center board member Demion Clinco (pictured here with board member Donna Tang at a recent Tea & Archaeology)
has been appointed as Arizona State Advisor to the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
A Gift of Angels
One of Tucson’s best-loved historic places is Mission San Xavier del Bac, an 18th-century Spanish Colonial church located south of town in the San Xavier District of the Tohono O’Odham Nation. Widely recognized as the expert on Mission San Xavier del Bac, ethnologist Bernard L. “Bunny” Fontana has teamed with award-winning photographer Edward McCain to produce a loving, thorough, and visually stunning portrait of this National Historic Landmark.
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|A Gift of Angels
Dr. Fontana’s long and close relationship with this architectural masterpiece—which continues to serve its parishioners—and his meticulous attention to its every detail make this study unique and invaluable. In 1978, Fontana and several other community leaders founded the Patronato San Xavier, a non-profit organization dedicated to preservation and restoration of the mission. Years of conservation work on the church’s interior revealed features that had been obscured over time. Dr. Fontana not only discusses the style and content of these incredible artworks, but also places their meaning in religious and historical context.
A Gift of Angels is, quite simply, an essential work on Mission San Xavier.
A Gift of Angels: The Art of Mission San Xavier del Bac by Bernard L. Fontana, with photographs by Edward McCain. University of Arizona Press, 2010. 376 pp. ISBN 978-0-8165-2840-0. $75.00 (cloth).
For more information on the Patronato San Xavier and restoration efforts, visit their website.