(May 31, 2022)—It’s the end of May, and our Preservation Archaeology Field School has just begun our 2022 field season. I’ve been having a great week spending time with our group, and I’m looking forward to spending a lot more time with everyone as we work and live in Cliff, New Mexico, from now until early July. Over the next six weeks or so, we’ll be sharing our experiences here on the Preservation Archaeology blog, and you’ll be hearing from our staff and students about what they are seeing and learning.
I’ve been directing this field school with Jeff Clark and experimental archaeology director Allen Denoyer almost every year since 2014 (we had a COVID hiatus in 2020). Three of our summer staff this year are returning from previous years: field director Rebecca Harkness (a PhD candidate at the University of Arizona with museum collections research and field experience in the US Southwest, the Middle East, and Cambodia), flaked-stone lab director and field crew chief Lauren Bridgeman (a PhD student at UA with research and Cultural Resource Management [CRM] experience in archaeology and ethnography throughout the US and in Fiji), and ceramics lab director and field crew chief Chris La Roche (a former field school student from 2017 with CRM and research experience in the US Southwest, who begins his MA work at UA this fall). We’re very happy to welcome our new archaeological survey director, Ben Pelletier, who just received his MA from Northern Arizona University and has worked in research, CRM, and National Park Service archaeology in the US Southwest, Hawaii, and the Dominican Republic.
Our 15 students this year come from 10 different colleges, 9 states, and a wide range of different backgrounds and interests within our field. They’ll be introducing themselves to you as their blog posts appear over the next few weeks. Our time together is spent mostly outdoors and is very busy, with a full schedule of archaeological survey work for the Gila National Forest, experimental archaeology work replicating ancient structures and technologies, and test excavations at Gila River Farm, a 14th-century Salado village that was plowed, driven over, and otherwise impacted before being purchased and protected by the Nature Conservancy.
In the evenings, we’ll either be bent over tables doing laboratory analysis of artifacts collected during the day, or enjoying lectures by specialists in archaeology and related fields from all over the country, including Desert Archaeology, Inc., University of Arizona, Andy Ward’s Ancient Pottery, University of Nevada Las Vegas, University of Missouri, and the Pueblo of Acoma. We also take lots of trips, including visits to the Himdag Ki: Tohono O’odham Cultural Center, Arizona State Museum and Repository, Mimbres Culture Heritage Site, Western New Mexico University Museum, Pueblo of Zuni, Chaco Canyon, and Gila Cliff Dwellings. It’s exhausting and compelling and, well, FUN.