An Ancient Collection Restored? The Case of the Pilling Figurines
Last year, Bonnie Pitblado received a striking piece of ceramic art in a small box with a typed note that expressed the anonymous sender’s desire for the artifact to “find its original home.” One look and the Utah State University anthropologist knew the fist-sized figurine appeared very much like a treasured Fremont artifact that went missing nearly a half-century ago. But what if the piece were a clever fake? Pitblado wanted to make certain the piece is the one missing from the famed Pilling Figurines, one of North America’s most prized collections of prehistoric portable art. http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/news/53879624-78/figurine-pitblado-pilling-figurines.html.csp
Trackhoes and Trowels in Utah’s Nine Mile Canyon
“It’s all excavation. The difference is you guys use trackhoes and we use trowels.” That’s how archaeologist Jody Patterson explained the contrasting digs going on in Nine Mile Canyon to a few civil engineers who dropped by for an update. Patterson, who earned his Ph.D. in archaeology, is principal investigator for Montgomery Archeological Consultants. This is the Moab-based firm that is providing the monitoring and training for the road construction team. About 150 people have been trained in spotting and protecting the sensitive sites along the 36-mile route. http://www.sunad.com/index.php?tier=1&article_id=24712
The American Institute of Archaeology and the American Association of Anthropologists Take a Strong Stand Against Public Access to Publicly Funded Research
The legislation would require that publishers of academic and scholarly journals provide the government with final peer-reviewed and edited manuscripts, and, six months after their publication, those manuscripts would be made available to the public, on the Internet, for no charge. The House bill states, “The Federal Government funds basic and applied research with the expectation that new ideas and discoveries that result from the research, if shared and effectively disseminated, will advance science and improve the lives and welfare of people of the United States and around the world.” http://www.archaeology.org/1205/departments/president.html
A Fortunate Disaster – Sunset Crater and the Sinagua
The Hopi believe their kachinas created the Sunset Crater eruption to punish the Sinagua Indians in retaliation for a prank played out of jealousy. In real life, the eruption ushered in an era of prosperity — demonstrating the complex relationship between climate, culture and geography. Both Sunset Crater and the Wupatki ruins rise out of the landscape around the area of the San Francisco Peaks, out of place but curiously perfect. http://www.paysonroundup.com/news/2012/apr/13/useful-disaster/
Preservation of the Lamb Spring Site near Denver
Lamb Spring sits in the Chatfield Basin, between South Platte Canyon Road and Chatfield Reservoir. “Stand on that site (Lamb Spring) and look around. You realize you are in the middle of one of the fastest-developing areas in Colorado,” said Jim Walker, southwest regional director for The Archaeological Conservancy, an Albuquerque nonprofit that buys archaeologically promising land and safeguards it from development. The conservancy bought the Lamb Spring site in 1995. “The fact that we were able to find that site, buy it and preserve it, at the time we did, was a miracle. I’ll bet within 10 years that area is going to be covered in houses.”
Multi-Spectral Analysis of Ancient Paintings at the Palace of the Governors
The room was warm, close and dark. Six people stood perfectly still as a light flashed blue, green and red. Then they donned goggles or looked away as an ultraviolet light glowed, and waited in utter darkness as an infrared exposure (not visible to the human eye) completed the electromagnetic spectrum. In the Segesser room, deep in the Palace of the Governors, the contrast between ancient history and cutting-edge technology was stark. Along one adobe wall, a 300-year-old Segesser hide lay exposed, free of its usual protective Plexiglas. And clustered near the entrance, nearly on top of the hide itself, a tangle of cameras, wires, lights and laptops were set up, primed and ready to capture digital images of the hides. http://www.santafenewmexican.com/Local%20News/Art-in-a-new-light
The Story of Mesa Verde National Park
It was cold that day in eighteen eighty-eight in southwestern Colorado. Richard Wetherill and his brother-in-law were trying to find some missing cattle. They were up on Mesa Verde. Spanish explorers had named the area. The high, flat mountaintop is covered with many green juniper and pinon pine trees. It looks like a huge green table, which is “mesa verde” in Spanish. http://www.voanews.com/learningenglish/home/usa/Mesa-Verde-National-Park-Protecting-the-Culture-of-Ancient-Native-Americans–146888465.html
Bridge on the Santa Fe Trail Added to NM State Register
A little-known bridge that carried wagon trains on the Santa Fe Trail and figured in the Battle of Apache Canyon during the Civil War has been nominated to the National Register of Historic Places. The state Cultural Properties Review Committee on Friday moved to protect the Apache Canyon Bridge site by placing it on the State Register of Cultural Properties and nominating it to the national register of historic places. http://www.santafenewmexican.com/Local%20News/Bridge-from-trail-days-named-as-historic-site
Deadline for Nominations for the Arizona GAAC Awards Extended
Dear Friends of Historic Preservation: The deadline for nominations for the Governor’s Archaeology Advisory Commission (GAAC)’s 2012 Awards in Public Archaeology has been extended to Monday, April 23rd. We look forward to receiving your nominations! Nomination forms are Available at https://www.archaeologysouthwest.org/sat/gaac_2012_awards_pa.pdf
Historic Trees Have Tales to Tell
The pecan tree, more than 300 years old, stands out from the others in a forested area of Dallas, a 25-foot segment of its trunk slightly bowed and running almost parallel to the ground before jutting high up into the sky. It, like numerous others across the country known as Indian marker trees or trail trees, was bent in its youth by American Indians to indicate such things as a trail or a low-water creek crossing. “If they could talk, the stories they could tell,” said Steve Houser, an arborist and founding member of the Dallas Historic Tree Coalition. The trees, he said, “were like an early road map.” http://www.reznetnews.org/
Enjoy a Culture Craft Saturday at the Arizona State Museum
On Saturday, April 28, 2012, the State Museum will host Culture Craft Saturday (presented in conjunction with Teacher Day at UA), from 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m., Free. Celebrate Arizona State Museum’s exhibits, Basketry Treasured and Many Mexicos, at this free, fun, family day. Meet Native American basket makers, help weave an enormous community basket, and watch Tohono O’odham basket dancers. Learn about a quilted jaguar, create a jaguar mask, listen to Mexican music, make paper flowers, go on a discovery hunt inside the exhibits, create art-inspired haikus, and so much more. http://www.statemuseum.arizona.edu/frame/?doc=/public/culture_craft_saturday_april_2012.pdf
Lecture Opportunity – Dolores
Kirk Gittings, first Artist-in-Residence at Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, will discuss the ideas behind his life work in a theater presentation at the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Anasazi Heritage Center at 1 p.m. on Saturday, April 21. The Albuquerque photographer is one of four professional artists chosen for one-week residencies during the spring and summer at Canyons of the Ancients. Gittings’ primary tool is a large-format 4×5 inch view camera, which demands a slow and deliberate approach, according to Gittings. http://www.blm.gov/co/st/en/BLM_Information/newsroom/2012/mythological_landscapes.html
Lecture Opportunity – Dolores
On Apr. 22, author Sally Cole will discuss Anne Axtell Morris’ underappreciated contributions to the science of documenting ancient art during her lecture and slideshow entitled, “Art in Archaeology: The Influential Work of Anne Axtell Morris in the Southwest and Mesoamerica.” Cole is the author of the book Legacy on Stone: Rock Art of the Colorado Plateau and Four Corners Region, widely considered the best available regional rock art reference. The program begins at 1 p.m. at the Bureau of Land Management’s Anasazi Heritage Center, and admission to the museum is free throughout the day.
Lecture Opportunity – Durango
On May 2, 2012, at 6:30 p.m, Ekkehart Malotki, Professor Emeritus, Northern Arizona University will present Ice Age Art in North America: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly at the Durango Public Library (located at 1900 East 3rd Ave., Durango, CO 81301). Given that engaging and responding to the arts is a human universal, one can also assume that the earliest Paleoamerican colonists were endowed with this capacity. In light of the fact, however, that current dating methods for early petroglyphs are either greatly flawed or highly experimental, efforts to reliably identify Ice Age art at present are limited to finding depictions of diagnostic megamammals. With the exception of two recently discovered mammoth images in Utah, all other claims for proboscidean images presently touted as evidence for Pleistocene fauna can be considered as examples of wishful thinking, misidentification, or downright fraud.
Lecture Opportunity – Santa Fe
Southwest Seminars presents a lecture by Alan Ferg, Curator, Special Projects Arizona State Museum, University of Arizona, who will give a presentation entitled: Chiricahua and Western Apache Playing Cards of the 19th Century. Presented on April 23 at 6pm at Hotel Santa Fe. Admission is $12. Part of the Ancient Stories II lecture series given to honor and acknowledge the work of The Archaeological Conservancy. 505 466-2775
Tour Opportunity – El Paso
Join a Park Ranger for a Sunset Tour from 6 to 9 p.m. Saturday, April 28 at Hueco Tanks State Park & Historic Site, 6900 Hueco Tanks Road #1, El Paso, TX 79938. Visitors will hike around West Mountain, the largest of the rock formations at Hueco Tanks. Guides will point out prehistoric pictographs, native plants and their uses, and wildlife. Tour will be strenuous, and the group will scramble up rock surfaces to reach pictographs. Participants should wear sturdy shoes, and bring water and a flashlight. Reservations are required. There will be a $2 fee for participants ages 5 and above. Call 915-857-1135 or 915-849-6684 for information and reservations.
Thanks to Brian Kreimendahl for contributions to this week’s newsletter.