(April 12, 2022)—In early April, a handful of us from Archaeology Southwest attended the Society for American Archaeology (SAA) annual meeting in Chicago—in person! After a few years of cancelled in-person events and hybrid meetings, it was great to attend an in-person event again. For me, the excitement and energy I find in seeing new research, catching up with old friends, and meeting new colleagues in person are qualitatively different from online interactions.
One of the best parts of these types of meetings is getting to see some of our former field school students again. This year, our poster session “Mogollon Area Archaeology: Mimbres, Salado, and in Between” allowed some of our 2021 field school students to present their research alongside some great professional colleagues who have been working in this area for years. The posters from that session are archived here (and more coming soon!), so you can see them even if you weren’t able to attend the meeting in person
Beatriz Barraclough-Tan, Lewis Dolmas, Gabby Pfleger, Sam Rosenbaum, and Kat Taylor all presented research on topics they began exploring in our field school last summer. After months of web-only interactions, it was great to see them all in person again.
I was also happy to get a chance to catch up with some field school alumni from long ago and find out what they’ve been up to. Jonathan Alperstein (class of 2018) worked in CRM in Hawaii after graduating and is now a graduate student at Dartmouth. His poster was on geophysical research in New England. He sure has done a lot of different types of archaeology in a few years!
Sean White (class of 2019) was slated to present his work at the 2020 SAA meeting, which was sadly cancelled along with most things that year. In 2021 he tried again, settling for a virtual poster presentation when the in-person meeting was cancelled yet again. Sean is now a graduate student at Northern Arizona University, and he finally got to attend the meeting in person this year!
I was also glad to catch up with Johnny Shaefer (class of 2017, who went on to earn an MA and is now working in CRM) and Taylor Cole (class of 2021, now working with government agencies in archaeology and recently accepted to a graduate program). Another nice surprise was seeing Jaqueline Fox, one of our students from my first summer teaching the Preservation Archaeology field school back in 2014. Since her summer with us, Jax has been dividing her archaeological time between CRM work in the Southwest and teaching and research in Belize.
Another highlight of the meeting for me was getting to see new research in zooarchaeology. Most of my colleagues in Tucson have other methodological specialties, so I’d especially missed these interactions. I saw some great posters, and I was lucky to be in a paper session with zooarchaeologists working all over the world on topics from early historic ranching in Sonora to frozen guanacos in Argentina to agouti introductions in the Caribbean. Of course, I saw lots of great Southwestern archaeology papers and posters, too. I’m bringing this good new energy to my work at home now.
Thank you to the National Science Foundation (REU-1851763), the UA Foundation, and Archaeology Southwest members and donors for supporting the Preservation Archaeology Field School, including support for five students who attended the SAA meetings this year. Funding undergraduate research ensures that the next generation of archaeologists has the field and research experience it needs to keep advancing in our field.