By Kathryn Turney, Project Intern
I have had the pleasure of being an intern for the Edge of Salado project since February of this year. It has been fun, challenging at times, and very rewarding. It has been a good learning experience, in terms of how to meet the project’s research goals while still providing a good experience for everyone involved.
For those of you who are not familiar with our project, Lewis Borck, Archaeology Southwest’s Preservation Fellow, is looking for signs of resistance to the Salado ideology. This is done through excavation of trash deposits (middens), which are typically placed outside of architecture during the period of interest. Archaeology Southwest promotes Preservation Archaeology, which means that if a site is not endangered, the research is done in a nonintrusive way. We look at the ceramics (the type and the number of them) to identify what may have been traded or integrated into the way of life of locals, immigrants, and later generations.
Each week we begin early in the morning on Saturday, bringing all of our equipment with us and sometimes driving more than two hours to get to our site. The start of the day can be long. The research area includes sites in the Coyote Mountains, Chiricahua Mountains, and the Dragoons. We’ve been lucky to excavate in scenic places and camp in gorgeous spots on nights when we are too far away to drive back to Tucson.
We have had some contact with ranchers out on our site and it is terrific to interact with them. They have many stories to tell about life in their neck of the woods, and I am always happy to be brought into those conversations and hear about the history of how they came to ranch, as well as the challenges they meet on a daily basis. It makes one stop and take pause, knowing that sometimes it is hard to understand another person’s way of life, even as we are trying to interpret the lives of people who have no way to tell us what their lives were really like before we had written records.
We have found so many interesting artifacts on this project. Everything will be analyzed to determine how it fits into the research that Archaeology Southwest and Lewis are conducting. One of the perks of the job is to be able to hold something in your hands that has not been touched in hundreds, even thousands of years!
Without the help of the always-cheerful volunteers at Archaeology Southwest, this project would be hard to complete, so a big shout-out to all the people who have volunteered for this project! There have been professional archaeologists, avocational archaeologists, and a few newcomers to archaeology.