(July 23, 2015)—The end of the Upper Gila Preservation Archaeology Field School is always a bittersweet time, as students and staff members say goodbye to the teammates we’ve worked and lived with for six very intense weeks. For our students, it’s time to move on to late-summer jobs, preparing for another year of college classes, and (for some) other jobs or internships in archaeology. I’ve enjoyed watching some of 2014’s students succeed in finding positions in Cultural Resource Management, national parks and monuments, museums, and other academic field projects, and I look forward to seeing where our 2015 students go next.
For many of our staff members, the end of the field season marks the beginning of the analysis and write-up stage of our work. Our students did the preliminary analysis and classification of the pottery and flaked stone tools from the Dinwiddie site during the lab portion of the field school, but further analyses are now beginning.
From here, the artifacts are sent to local specialists such as Stacy Ryan, Jenny Adams, and Mike Diehl, who will conduct more detailed analysis of artifact classes such as lithics, ground stone, and paleoethnobotanical (plant remains resulting from human use) samples. They will contribute their analyses for the final report on our work at Dinwiddie. Leslie Aragon and I are using the excavation summaries our students collaborated on to write sections of the report describing this year’s excavations. Just like fieldwork, all this analysis and write-up takes considerable time and effort by many people working together.
Another aspect of our Upper Gila work that’s now shifting gears is our public event planning. Although we have a few events in the works for the fall and spring, the bulk of our local events occur during the field season, and this busy summer was no exception. Allen Denoyer and I enjoyed visiting the nearby town of Glenwood to discuss our work at events for children and adults. Allen and some of our students held several Hands-On Archaeology workshops for kids at public libraries in Bayard and Gila.
We also enjoyed hosting several groups for informal tours of the site during our excavations, including visitors from the Tohono O’odham Cultural Center, the University of Texas San Antonio archaeological field school, the Grant County Archaeological Society, and some great Girl Scouts from Bayard who remembered us from last summer.
And, of course, all our students participated in our end-of-the-season Archaeology Fair at the Gila Community Center. Each student or pair of students came up with an independent project idea on something of particular interest to them. They conducted research during the field season, filling our evenings in camp with the sound of grinding stone, the smell of smoldering wood, and piles of diverse materials ranging from posterboard to beargrass to cans of expanding foam insulation. They then summarized their work for public displays at the Archaeology Fair.
The results form a great set of projects, many of which could form the foundation for larger research studies in the future. We’re very pleased to end the 2015 season of field school blog posts by posting a summary of our students’ outreach projects. Congratulations, field school class of 2015!