American Archaeology Magazine Winter 2016 is Here!

AA winter 2016-17 Cover. Rediscovering the Alamo

The most recent issue of American Archaeology Magazine, WINTER 2016, is now available!

  • COVER: A researcher operates a ground-penetrating radar machine at the Alamo in search of buried artifacts and features.
  • Credit: Reimagine The Alamo

Articles:

REDISCOVER ING THE ALAMO BY RICHARD A. MARINI
An archaeological project is playing an important role in an effort to make this iconic site more interesting to tourists.

A SENSE OF PLACE BY MIKE TONER
A Hohokam rock art study takes the unusual approach of examining not only the images, but also their surroundings.

A NEW VIEW OF MOUNDVILLE BY ALEXANDRA WITZE
For years this Mississippian site was thought to be a political capital, but recently some researchers have arrived at a different conclusion.

FINDING LUNA BY TAMARA J. STEWART
Archaeologists have recently discovered the first permanent European colony along Florida’s Gulf Coast.

HOW WERE THE AMERICAS COLONIZED? BY DAVID MALAKOFF
Experts are struggling to develop a plausible colonization model from the latest archaeological and genetic evidence.

New Acquisitions:

EARLY LIFE IN THE AMERICAN BOTTOM
The McCarty Mound could offer a glimpse of the American Bottom’s prehistory.

MAKING MEYER POTTERY
The Meyer Pottery Kiln contains information about nineteenth- and twentieth-century ceramics production.

Get your Copy of WINTER 2016 Now! Receive a subscription to American Archaeology Magazine with a $30 annual donation. Please visit our Membership page for details on how you can become a member.

Also available at Newsstands and Bookstores near you.

Browse Articles Summaries from our last issue, FALL 2016.  Explore Back Issues. Back issues, 2 years old or older, are available online to search and download.

Rosenstock Preserve: Living Along The Potomac Over 600 Years Ago

The MonocacyThe Monocacy River, a tributary of the Potomac River, flows next to the site.
The Monocacy River, a tributary of the Potomac River, flows next to the site.

The Rosenstock Preserve, located not far from the Eastern Regional Office, became a Conservancy preserve in 2011.  Our office recently submitted a National Register of Historic Places nomination for this fantastic site. The National Register was created with the passing of the Historic Preservation Act in 1966. It is a list of sites, buildings, structures, objects, and districts throughout the country deemed worthy of preservation by the United States.

Rosenstock contains the remains of a Late Woodland Village characteristic of the Montgomery Complex, a cultural complex which is composed of Late Woodland sites located in the vicinity of the Potomac River. The main occupation of the site dates to between A.D. 1335 and A.D. 1400, a range based on artifact analysis and radiocarbon dating. The site was occupied by a Late Woodland riverine-oriented horticultural and hunting based society. In what little has been excavated, Rosenstock has yielded hundreds of thousands of artifacts and faunal remains.

The Rosenstock Archaeological Research Preserve, Maryland. Photo The Archaeological Conservancy.
The Rosenstock Archaeological Research Preserve, Maryland. Photo The Archaeological Conservancy.

Archaeological excavations at the site have uncovered an oval pattern of pits surrounding an open plaza. It is thought these pits could have been used for storage, and that circular houses would have surrounded the plaza. Two interesting keyhole-shaped features found during the excavations of the site may represent sweatlodges. A cougar skull at the bottom of a pit may suggest that the pit and its contents were involved in some sort of ritual activity.

The cougar skull found at the bottom of a pit feature. Photo The Archaeological Conservancy.
The cougar skull found at the bottom of a pit feature. Photo The Archaeological Conservancy.

Artifacts from the site: a partially restored Shepard Ware vessel and a bone carving of a squatting, headless human figure known as a “hocker.” Similar carvings have been found on sites in New York and Ohio.

Following excavations of the site in 1979 and 1990-1992, it is estimated that over 90% of the site remains undisturbed. Further research of the site has the potential to yield new and valuable information including the origin, cultural affiliations, and interactions of the Montgomery Complex people.

We are excited that this unique site may soon be a part of the National Register of Historic Places.  In order to add a property to the National Register it is necessary to apply to be nominated based on historical significance relating to one (or more) of four criteria: event, person, design/construction, and/or information potential. Many archaeological sites are listed based on the final criterion because of the potential for excavations of the site to yield important information related to prehistory or history. You can learn more about the National Register process which is administered by the National Park Service, here. Being a part of the National Register adds another layer of ongoing protection and recognition for archaeological gems such as the Rosenstock preserve.

 Cross-sectioned semi-subterranean keyhole structure, thought to be a sweatlodge.
Cross-sectioned semi-subterranean keyhole structure, thought to be a sweatlodge.

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Terrarium Site: A Window into The Pomo World of 2,000 Years Ago

Some of the Many Petroglyphs at the Terrarium site that will be protected when the Conservancy and our Members are able to preserve the site. Photo The Archaeological Conservancy.
Some of the Many Petroglyphs at the Terrarium site that will be protected when the Conservancy and our Members are able to preserve the site. Photo The Archaeological Conservancy.

The Conservancy is working to preserve a remarkable Central Pomo site in California. Populated about 2,000 years ago, the Terrarium site has the potential to yield new and important insights into the proto-Pomo expansion of 550 B.C.

Located in what is now Mendocino County, the Terrarium site incorporates five archaeological sites over a 360-acre property.  These sites include middens, housepit features, lithic scatters, stone tools, rock cupules and several large petroglyph boulders. There are likely more sites that have yet to be discovered on the property.

Your gift of $25, $50, $100 or more for the Preservation Fund designated for the Terrarium site will make such a difference in our efforts to preserve this important archaeological site.

Between 7,900 and 2,500 years ago, the prehistoric peoples of this region generally lived in small-scale, loosely organized social groups that moved frequently in search of plants and game.  They exclusively used local chert which suggests there was no trade system.  Around 2,500 years ago, a radical shift took place indicating total cultural replacement.  Archaeological and ethnographic evidence suggests the development of a robust trade network, explosive population growth, and a unifying belief system.

Because the Terrarium site was occupied during the proto-Pomo expansion 2,500 years ago, research at the site may answer questions relating to how the colonizing population and the local population interacted, how the robust proto-Pomo trade system contributed to the success of colonization, and the role of petroglyphs within the social system.

Documenting the many petroglyphs on the Terrarium Site. Photo The Archaeological Conservancy.
Documenting the many petroglyphs on the Terrarium Site. Photo The Archaeological Conservancy.

There are two distinct middens located on the property.  During a 1972 archaeological survey, one midden (locus A) was found at the confluence and was described as rising three feet above its surroundings.  Nine associated pit house features were documented and a number of artifacts were found including chert projectile points, a chert drill, chert scrapers, fire-affected rock, and mortar fragments.  In 2012, the Conservancy’s Western Regional Director visited the site and found the second midden (Locus B) and an associated artifact scatter.  Locus B is located on the south end of the site on a high terrace overlooking the Middle Fork Feliz Creek.  The site lacks surface features, but has a moderate to high density of cultural material including fire-affected rock, chipped stone points and bifaces, mortar fragments, and obsidian and chert flakes.

The soil at both middens indicates village life focused around cooking and heating fires, a sign that they were both fall-winter settlements.  The Pomo relied on fishing, hunting and gathering for their daily food supply.  The fire-affected rocks were cooking stones, used for basket boiling.  They used the mortar and pestles to process acorns which were an important part of their diet.  The presence of chipped stone indicates the on-site manufacture and maintenance of hunting weaponry and tools for processing deer and other game.

Locus B appears to be older than Locus A due to the soil weathering, lack of surface features, and presence of Archaic dart points.  Locus B is half the size of Locus A, suggesting that it supported a much smaller population.  The artifacts found at Locus B date it to the earliest, colonizing phase of the Pomo expansion.  Locus B was most likely abandoned in favor of a settlement near the confluence of the Middle Fork and Main Fork Feliz Creek at Locus A which was populated during the settling-in phase of the Pomo.

A density of Rock Cupules and other grinding Stones abound on Site.
A density of Rock Cupules and other grinding Stones abound on Site. Photo The Archaeological Conservancy.

The Terrarium site also has two large petroglyph boulders with associated lithic scatters.  The boulders are black chlorite schist and have an amazing variety of designs including cupules, concentric circles, and cross hatching.  According to ethnographic literature from the late 19th and early 20th centuries in which the authors consulted with Pomo elders who possessed knowledge of traditional practices before indigenous lifeways ceased, the petroglyph boulders were used in fertility ceremonies.

Large Boulder  with ritual petroglyphs on Terrarium site. Photo The Archaeological Conservancy.
Large Boulder with ritual petroglyphs on Terrarium site. Photo The Archaeological Conservancy.

Some were private ceremonies where a woman would fast for four days, then visit a boulder by herself.  After a ritual she would use a flint knife to make four cuts in the boulder and use the dust to make ritual marks on her body.  Then she would speak to the rock, asking for a child.  Other ceremonies would involve a couple.  They would visit the boulder together and say a fertility prayer.  They would then use a pecking stone to chip small fragments from the cupules and then grind the chippings into a fine powder that they turned into a paste to paint the woman’s body with.  The location of the boulders at the Terrarium site made them ideal for use in fertility ceremonies because they were close to the village making them very accessible but also providing privacy.

Stone Tools and Points found on the surface at the Terrarium sites.
Stone Tools and Obsidian Points found on the surface at the Terrarium sites. Photo The Archaeological Conservancy.

To date, there have been no excavations on the property and the site has suffered little looting.  The owners of the property have built a few structures, but have been very respectful of the site so it has only been minimally disturbed.  They have agreed to sell the Conservancy an archaeological easement on the property for $75,000.  This legal contract grants the Conservancy the complete rights and responsibilities to preserve and protect the site’s archaeological resources in perpetuity.

Your gift to the Preservation Fund designated for the Terrarium site or for the protection of other important archaeological sites will make such a difference. It’s the continuing support of people like you that make it possible to save even more of America’s cultural heritage before it’s lost forever.

A Close Up of one of the many petroglyphs documented at the Terrarium site.  Photo The Archaeological Conservancy.
A Close Up of one of the many petroglyphs documented at the Terrarium site. Photo The Archaeological Conservancy.

Rock Shelters & Mounds: Dedication and Preservation in My Midwest

Josh McConaughy, left, celebrates the donation of the Town Square Mound by the Town Square Bank with Bank President Bruce VanHorn
Josh McConaughy, left, celebrates the donation of the Town Square Mound by the Town Square Bank with Bank President Bruce VanHorn

Introducing Our Midwest Regional Field Assistant: Josh McConaughy

As an undergraduate student at Ohio University I began to be attracted to archaeology after I participated in a field school that focused on a rock shelter in Hocking County, Ohio.  My work at that site really sparked my interest in Ohio Archaeology and led me to visit different Midwest mounds & earthworks in the area. These included mounds in The Plains Archaeological district, and nearby Chillicothe, where such well known Hopewell earthworks exist.  I had no idea back then that I was visiting sites preserved due to the hard work of people at The Conservancy, and that I would soon be lucky enough to join them in that important work.

For my first project working for The Archaeological Conservancy, I focused on the Southern Ohio region because it was an area I knew well.  The Dorr 2 mound in The Plains, Ohio was the first property I acquired for The Conservancy and it was part of the first earth work site I’d ever visited during my time at Ohio University.  This earthwork group in southeastern Ohio has been heavily altered by modern development, so we were very lucky to be able to ensure this piece remained intact.  Even today we are still trying to acquire other parts of this thought-provoking grouping of mounds.

One other preserve I am particularly proud of is the Town Square Bank Mound in Greenup County, Kentucky.  The elliptical mound itself is quite impressive, standing nearly 20 feet tall and 80 feet long.  Our acquisition of the mound was impressive too because it was a perfect storm of dedicated people coming together to preserve an important part of their community and cultural heritage.

Archaeologists Working on Site of the Town Square Mound.
Archaeologists Working on Site of the Town Square Mound.

When I first visited the mound, it was actually difficult to even see because the land surrounding it was so overgrown and unkempt.  Fortunately, the mound was very well preserved, especially considering a small housing development had sprung up right next door.  The mound had only recently been recorded as an official state site and we didn’t know much about its origins.  A doctoral student at the University of Kentucky had investigated the mound using geoarchaeological methods.  His preliminary data showed the mound dated to the Fort Ancient or Woodland periods, roughly 500 to 2,500 years ago.

Mound before clearing and clean-up by volunteers.
Mound before clearing and clean-up by volunteers.
The mound now clearly visible after clean-up and clearing by hard-working volunteers.
The mound now clearly visible after clean-up and clearing by hard-working volunteers.

The Archaeological Conservancy’s preservation efforts were made easier by enthusiastic locals.  I began working with Charlie Holbrook, a local attorney interested in archaeology and archaeologist Dwight Cropper, a longtime supporter of The Conservancy.  We discovered that the mound was located on land that had been foreclosed on by a local bank, and Charlie was sure he could convince the board of directors at Town Square Bank to donate the land.  Amazingly within a couple months we had a signed donation agreement for nearly 5 acres of land containing the large mound and area surrounding it.  The President of the bank, Bruce VanHorn informed us that the board voted unanimously to donate the mound because they recognized the historical importance of the site to their community.

Celebrating at the Town Square Bank Mound Dedication with board of Bank and Archaeologists.
Celebrating at the Town Square Bank Mound Dedication with board of Bank and Archaeologists.

Dwight helped to organize a group of people to help clean the overgrown vegetation and trash off the site. After the cleanup, we held a donation ceremony to transfer the mound to The Archaeological Conservancy.  The site was renamed the Town Square Bank Mound in honor of the generous gift given to us and to the community by the Bank, volunteers, and all involved.

The crowd at the special dedication of the Town Square Mound Donation by The Town Square Bank.
The crowd at the special dedication of the Town Square Mound Donation by The Town Square Bank.

This project really helped to remind me how vital our work is, and it was very exciting to see so many people that felt the same way and donated their time and effort to help our cause.  Thanks to the efforts of many individuals and organizations this mound will forever remain a part of the landscape of Greenup County and be a reminder of the Native People that once lived along the Ohio River and its tributaries.

~ By Josh McConaughy

Bio: Josh McConaughy has served as the Midwest field representative since 2008. He has a bachelor’s degree in anthropology from Ohio University and worked as a Realtor in Ohio before joining The Conservancy.  An archaeological field school in college, led by his advisor Elliot Abrams, sparked his interest in American archaeology.  He likes traveling to different parts of the Midwest for TAC and meeting new people as he works to preserve sites.  Josh also loves to travel internationally and likes to visit archaeological sites in Europe.

Learn More about the Town Square Bank Mound in ‘Newly Recorded Site Now Protected’

The Town Square Bank Mound Today.
The Town Square Bank Mound Today.

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Save

Extraordinary Archaeology & Culture of Oaxaca Valley – VIDEO

Azompa, Oaxaca City in the background.
Azompa, Oaxaca City in the background.

In these two lovely tour videos below you can join along with The Archaeological Conservancy in Oaxaca for a taste of one of the most beautiful areas of Mexico: the Oaxaca Valley. Oaxaca lies in a semitropical valley surrounded by the peaks of the Sierra Madre del Sur. Vast and spectacular ruins of Ancient Mixtecan and Zapotecan civilizations lie just outside the city.

In the video ” Archaeology of Oaxaca Valley” Dr. Jeffrey Blomster, Professor of anthropological archaeologist and editor of After Monte Albán: Transformation and Negotiation in Oaxaca, Mexico, leads our group to visit many famous archaeological sites of the Oaxaca Valley.  In the video join as we explore the impressive ruins of Monte Albán, a city built by the Zapotecs between 500 B.C. and A.D. 750. Next they tour Dainzú, a Zapotec city founded in 350 B.C. that controlled a narrow valley pass, as well as the ruins at Yagul and Lambityeco. On another excursion the group tours the elaborate ruins of Mitla.  Built by the Zapotec and later occupied by the Mixtec, the masonry buildings are decorated with mosaics made from thousands of hand carved stones.  The group also visits Zaachila, the last capital of the Zapotec kingdom; and in the  Etla Valley and tours the site of San José Mogote, an important village first occupied around 1400 B.C.

Although the main focus was the valley’s amazing archaeological sites, museums and attractions, the group also discovered crafts villages, costume parades and of course some of the best culinary delights to be found on the planet.

In the video “Craft Villages of Oaxaca” the group visits tour nearby crafts villages, including San Bartolo Coyotepec, San Martín Tilcajete, Santo Tomás Jalieza, and Ocotlan de Morales, and the wood carving village of Arrazola. They conclude with the native weaving village of Teotitlán del Valle. Our participants get an up close and personal encounter with the master artisans of the region learning about each step along the way to spectacular creations. They meet masters of natural dyeing, pottery, wood carving and painting, weaving, paper arts and rug weaving.

The lure of Oaxaca is hard to resist. Its appeal goes beyond the Spanish Colonial architecture and the epicurean delights. For those of you who have never had the pleasure of experiencing the area (or those of you longing to return to Oaxaca), we will be running this trip again in the Fall of 2017.

Thank you so much to John Sadd, Tour Participant and Volunteer,  for making and sharing these great tour videos!!

Anthropology, New Mexico Fieldwork, & The Archaeological Conservancy

Carol Condie, holding photo board in front of a house in Elida, New Mexico, 1999. This contract project was to record all of the buildings along a 63-mile stretch of Interstate 70 in southeastern New Mexico prior to planned alterations to the highway. The construction technique was an unusual one in our experience, but seemed to be common in the area. Wooden forms were set in place as they would have been for a concrete pour, but instead of concrete, adobe mud mixed with gypsum was poured into the forms and allowed to set up. This doubtless required sequential pours.
Carol Condie, holding photo board in front of a house in Elida, New Mexico, 1999. This contract project was to record all of the buildings along a 63-mile stretch of Interstate 70 in southeastern New Mexico prior to planned alterations to the highway. The construction technique was an unusual one in our experience, but seemed to be common in the area. Wooden forms were set in place as they would have been for a concrete pour, but instead of concrete, adobe mud mixed with gypsum was poured into the forms and allowed to set up. This doubtless required sequential pours.

The path to my spot on the Conservancy Board began early and ran a ragged course.

I was born in Provo, Utah, but since both of my parents grew up in small towns in southwestern Utah we visited grandparents and other relatives often.  When I was eight we moved to New York City for a year while my dad earned a Master’s Degree in retailing from NYU.  Once that was accomplished we moved back to Utah but to Salt Lake City instead of Provo.  Those years provided a glimmering of what ultimately led to a degree in anthropology.  When we lived in New York my younger brother and I were seen as exotic (we were, after all, from beyond the far ends of the earth!) and interesting.  Our friendship and approval were cultivated.  When we returned to Utah, we were also seen as exotic, but in Salt Lake that meant dangerous and unpredictable.

To suggest that experiencing the three subcultures represented by St. George and Santa Clara, Utah, New York City, and Provo and Salt Lake City, Utah led straight to anthropology would be ridiculous.  I wasn’t that smart.  But it did plant the seed of curiosity about why people behaved in such different ways.  When I got to the University of Utah and signed up for an introductory class in anthropology to help fill a University College requirement I was astounded to learn that there were people who actually studied what I had wondered about for so long.

Like many students of my generation who attended public universities, I found it possible to earn enough to make the (amazingly low!) tuition working summer and after-school jobs.  Most of my jobs were secretarial.

After I had spent four years in school, including a stint as departmental secretary and a summer field school near Garrison, Utah on the Utah-Nevada line, I had a B.A. degree, but nothing that made me eminently employable in anything but another secretarial job.  The chair of the anthropology department came across a notice that Cornell University was offering a Ford Foundation fellowship for a one-year program in elementary education and told me to apply for it.  (No one offered women fellowships in anthropology in those days.)  I was awarded a fellowship, spent a year at Cornell, and returned to Salt Lake with a shiny new Master’s degree, only to learn that the Salt Lake City Board of Education  suspected that communists were behind the Ford Foundation and were reluctant to grant me a teaching certificate.  I talked my way into a job teaching third grade and also got married.  Another year and my husband had finished his B.F.A. in architecture, which led to a move to San Francisco and a job for him with the western arm of the National Park Service architectural division.  The job proved disappointing and we returned to Salt Lake a year later.

My husband went back to work at the firm he had left, where he happily remained until we moved to Albuquerque  in 1964.  But my job trajectory was no more focused than it had been before.  By this time we had three kids so setting out on a life of fieldwork was not an option.  Instead, I continued work toward a Ph.D. in Anthropology at the University of New Mexico (though so slowly that I sometimes feared my kids would grow up and start degrees while I was still plugging along) and took what jobs came along:

  • 1965—Director & Instructor, New Mexico Indian Headstart Programs in Teacher and Teacher-Aide Training.
  • 1970-1972—Writer for Navajo Social Studies Project, College of Education, University of New Mexico and Bureau of Indian Affairs.
  • 1973-1977—Education Coordinator and Director of Division of Interpretation, Maxwell Museum of  Anthropology, University of New Mexico.
  • 1977—Archeological Technician, U.S. Fish & Wildlife (June-October).
  • 1977-1978—Consulting Anthropologist.

By 1978 the kids were old enough to be left alone during the day or even to be dragged along to the field, so I realized the time had come to start my own business if I was ever going to.  I founded Quivira Research Center as a 501(c)(3) because at that time the only firms that could be hired by federal agencies were 501(c)(3)’s, a legacy from the days of universities being the only qualified providers of archeological contract work.  (In 1983 I added Quivira Research Associates, a sole proprietorship.)  —So, for the next 30 years or so I was able to do something I loved doing day in and day out.  I had always loved fieldwork and being a contractor provided a way to intersperse report writing with being outside and seeing interesting terrain and plants and animals—and even identifying archeological sites now and then!  (A little added bonus was that each of the kids developed into fairly respectable field people, though they had an unfortunate tendency to desert and go on with their own lives just as they got really good!)

Although we conducted a few more than 500 projects in various parts of New Mexico (plus a smattering in Colorado, Arizona, and Texas), most of them were not thrills and chills projects.  Many of them consisted of our discovering nothing of cultural interest (to the delight of our client of the moment).  Some projects, however, did result in surprises. One of these was what we expected to be a run-of-the-mill excavation of two cobble-filled hearths perched on the edge of one of the many gravel tongues above the river on Sandia Pueblo land a little north of Albuquerque.  Both hearths contained bone, but one held several huge ribs, which we assumed represented a cow.  Buffalo remains had never been reported as far west as the banks of the Rio Grande, being known only from the plains some distance east of Albuquerque.  Nevertheless, as was routine, we submitted a sizable sample to Beta Analytic for radiocarbon dating.  We were astounded to learn the date—365 B.C.  They could only be bison!

Bison Roasting Pit Diagram After Excavation. Courtesy Carol Condie.
Bison Roasting Pit Diagram After Excavation. Courtesy Carol Condie.
The Famous Bison Roasting Pit During Excavation. Courtesy Carol Condie.
The Bison Roasting Pit During Excavation. Courtesy Carol Condie.

Another project yielded a surprise of an entirely different nature.  We were investigating sites along the Pecos River road between the village of Pecos and the Pecos Mine at Terrero.  In addition to the fieldwork, we also conducted an extensive literature and archival search in order to write a regional culture history, most of which concerned Pecos Pueblo and nearby Hispanic communities, essentially prior to the influx of Anglos after New Mexico became part of the U.S. in 1846.  The surprise in this project came not from the ground, but from the San Miguel County Archives where we found a hangman’s bill for $26.75 for helping a person named Robert Stanfield—an obviously Anglo name—to his final rest in November 1849.  Unfortunately, we didn’t learn what his crime was.

Historic Hangman's Bill from San Miguel County, New Mexico. Courtesy Carol Condie.
Historic Hangman’s Bill from San Miguel County, New Mexico. Courtesy Carol Condie.

With such a scattered history in archeology, one would wonder how I came to be invited to join the Conservancy’s Board.  I have a little theory of my own:  For 10 years or so I, and practically every other archeologist in the Southwest, led one or two tours every year for Crow Canyon Archaeological Center.  Mark denies this, but I’m convinced that my invitation to serve on the Conservancy Board was a direct result of conversations in the vans I drove while we toured people around the Southwest.  Participants would often ask me about appeals they had received from the Conservancy to join and to contribute.  Since I had long been in a position to witness the spending habits of the Conservancy I would always tell them that the Conservancy watched every penny, never frittered funds away, spent judiciously, and that they should decidedly give the Conservancy all of their money.  However I achieved a seat on the board I find it a rewarding spot to be in because it’s a genuine pleasure to serve with people who make it a point to be productive (none of the long monologues that have plagued many of the other boards I’ve served on) and to be unfailingly pleasant to each other at the same time!

Carol Condie on an Archaeological Adventure Trip with the Archaeological Conservancy Members.
Carol Condie ( Far Right, second row down) on an Archaeological Adventure Trip with the Archaeological Conservancy Members to Mexico.
Gordon Wilson, TAC Chairman of the Board, visiting the Conservancy's 501st Saved Site with fellow board members, William 'Bill' Lipe and Carol Condie (left), and Dorinda Oliver (right). Photo: The Archaeological Conservancy.
Carol Condie (Center Left) visiting the Conservancy’s 501st Saved Site with fellow board members,  William ‘Bill’ Lipe (Left), Gordon Wilson (Middle),  and Dorinda Oliver (right). Photo: The Archaeological Conservancy.

~ By Carol Condie

Carol Condie is the president of the Quivira Research Center and owner of Quivira Research Associates in Albuquerque.  She has conducted over 500 cultural resource studies in the Southwest.  She holds a Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of New Mexico.

Read More about Our most Recent Acquisitions and Updates from the Field

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Teapot Dome (Wyoming)

U.S. Department of Energy representative Todd Stribley (left) and Conservancy President Mark Michel met last year to inspect the property. Credit: The Archaeological Conservancy.
U.S. Department of Energy representative Todd Stribley (left) and Conservancy President Mark Michel met last year to inspect the property. Credit: The Archaeological Conservancy.

The Conservancy has established a new preserve in Wyoming, located about thirty-five miles north of Casper, on a portion of the Teapot Dome Oilfield, which is named after a local rock formation called Teapot Rock. In 1915 Teapot Dome became a U.S Navy petroleum reserve, and in the early 1920s it was the subject of the infamous Teapot Dome Scandal, a Washington D.C. bribery scandal during the Warren G. Harding administration that sent former Senator and Secretary of the Interior Albert B. Fall to prison. Fall was convicted of accepting a bribe to lease lucrative oil production rights in the Teapot Dome reserve to a private oil company without going through a formal bidding process.

Federal petroleum reserves were created through a series of presidential executive orders in the early 1900s. The reserves were to provide a supply of crude oil to fuel U.S. naval vessels in times of short supply or national emergencies. The Teapot Dome Oilfield remained mostly undeveloped until the 1970s, when the U.S. began looking for new domestic oil supplies. In 1976, Congress passed the Naval Petroleum Reserves Production Act, authorizing full commercial development of the reserves. Petroleum products produced from the reserves were sold in the open market by the Department of Energy and the revenues were deposited to the U.S. Treasury. Through the years the Teapot Dome oilfield has produced over twenty-two million barrels of oil.

The cultural history of the Teapot Dome preserves extends back 12,000 years from the Paleo-Indian period into historic times, with most of the occupations attributed to the Late Archaic and Late Prehistoric periods between 5,000 and 1,600 years ago. The archaeological sites consist of hearths, rock shelters, open and sheltered camps, lithic scatters and workshops, stone circles, rock cairns, and petroglyphs. The 9,500-acre field is fenced and closed to the public. Stranded’s employees have agreed to serve as site stewards.

Summary. Read More in our SPRING 2017 Issue of American Archaeology. Browse the article excerpts in our last issue WINTER 16-17 Issue.

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Taylor Mound (Mississippi)

Small Mississippian-style arrow points have been found around Taylor Mound. Credit: The Archaeological Conservancy.
Small Mississippian-style arrow points have been found around Taylor Mound. Credit: The Archaeological Conservancy.

Taylor Mound is largely a mystery. It hasn’t been professionally excavated, so all that’s known about it is that it stands approximately ten-feet tall and it’s surrounded by a midden that stretches for an acre. Mississippian-style pottery and arrow points have been found around it, so it’s assumed the mound was built sometime during the Mississippian period, which extended from roughly A.D. 800-1600.

Taylor’s location was ideal for supporting a large number of people. The mound is situated on an old Mississippi River channel that was abandoned by the river when it changed course hundreds of years ago, leaving in its place a slower moving stream that eventually became what is known as an oxbow lake. Here fish, amphibians, birds, mussels, and deer were found, providing food for Taylor’s inhabitants. The fertile soils created by periodic flooding of the local rivers were also ideal for cultivating maize, a staple of the Mississippian’s diet.

The landowners have chosen to donate an archaeological easement that will allow the Conservancy to protect the mound and the surrounding acre of land. Taylor Mound has not yet begun to reveal its information about the lives of its inhabitants or their roles in the surrounding prehistoric landscape. Thanks to the foresight of the landowners, researchers may some day solve the mystery of Taylor Mound.

Summary. Read More in our SPRING 2017 Issue of American Archaeology. Browse the article summaries in our last issue WINTER 16-17 Issue.

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American Archaeology Magazine Spring 2017 is Here!

COVER: A feather bundle (upper right), a pair of tapestry-woven yucca sandals (below) and a woman’s yucca-cordage apron with human-hair waistcord are some of the artifacts researchers have reexcavated. Credit: Courtesy of the American Museum of Natural History cat. # H-13338; the Museum of Peoples and Cultures, Brigham Young University cat. #1992.30.1 and .2; the Field Museum of Natural History cat. #165246/Laurie Webster

The most recent issue of American Archaeology Magazine, SPRING 2017, is now available!

  • COVER: A feather bundle (upper right), a pair of tapestry-woven yucca
    sandals (below) and a woman’s yucca-cordage apron with human-hair
    waistcord are some of the artifacts researchers have re-excavated.
  • Credit: Courtesy of Credit: Courtesy of the American Museum of Natural History cat. # H-13338; the Museum of Peoples and Cultures, Brigham Young University cat. #1992.30.1 and .2; the Field Museum of Natural History cat. #165246/Laurie Webster

Articles:

REEXCAVATING THE COLLECTIONS BY WAYNE CURTIS
Researchers with the Cedar Mesa Perishables Project are calling attention to thousands of ancient perishable artifacts.

LIFE IN THE GREAT DISMAL SWAMP BY DAVID MALAKOFF
Archaeologists are studying how escaped slaves lived freely in a vast wetland in the Southeast.

A STORY OF SALT BY ELIZABETH LUNDAY
Submerged saltworks are revealing information about Maya trade, their wooden material culture, and climate change.

REMEMBERING HISTORIC ACHIEVEMENTS BY JULIAN SMITH
Archaeologists are learning about the lives of thousands of Chinese workers who endured racism and other hardships while helping to build North America’s great railroads in the nineteenth century.

ARCHAEOLOGY UNDER ATTACK BY TAMARA STEWART
A variety of threats confront archaeologists.

New Acquisitions:
ANOTHER MOUND SAVED
The Conservancy obtains an easement to protect an ancient mound in northwest Mississippi.

THE ARCHAEOLOGY OF THE TEAPOT DOME
The cultural resources of this famous oil field are now
protected by the Conservancy.

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Browse Articles Excerpts from our last issue, WINTER 16-17

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Archaeology Under Attack

Newspaper Rock is one of Gold Butte National Monument’s amazing petroglyph panels. Gold Butte, located in Nevada, was recently designated a national monument to protect cultural resources like Newspaper Rock, but some people opposed the designation. Kurt Kuznicki/Friends of Nevada Wilderness
Newspaper Rock is one of Gold Butte National Monument’s amazing petroglyph panels. Gold Butte, located in Nevada, was recently designated a national monument to protect cultural resources like Newspaper Rock, but some people opposed the designation. Kurt Kuznicki/Friends of Nevada Wilderness

Spring 2017: By Tamara Jager Stewart.

In the late 1980s, while working in Wisconsin, Lynne Goldstein, now archaeology professor and director of the Campus Archaeology Program at Michigan State University, served on a panel working to assess Wisconsin’s historic preservation laws. “A wide range of changes were proposed and passed—with bipartisan support—and Wisconsin had some of the best overall preservation laws and policies in the country,” recalled Goldstein. The state adopted a highly effective and innovative burial law.

Nearly thirty years later, when a politically-connected developer proposed building on land containing documented burials, the governor and others pushed to change the state burial law. “Fortunately, enough people—including Native American tribes—pushed back, and the changes were halted, at least temporarily,” Goldstein said, though a study committee continues to review the law.

Nationwide attempts to weaken historic preservation and burial laws have been accompanied by funding cuts for archaeology programs, museums, and historic sites, as well as state and federal archaeological positions. “We are already losing a huge amount of institutional knowledge about the archaeological record, and now we are losing the positions and any possible transfer of that knowledge,” said Lynne Sebastian, the former director of historic preservation programs with the non-profit SRI Foundation and the former New Mexico State Archaeologist.

 “There have been budget cuts in most state offices across the Midwest, leaving staffing of preservation offices at a bare minimum,” said Goldstein. She noted a trend in the last five to ten years toward government officials and the public devaluing archaeology and historic preservation, and resisting state and federal mandates that protect cultural resources.

Excerpt.

Read More in our SPRING 2017 Issue of American Archaeology, Vol. 20 No. 4. Browse Content of this Issue: SPRING 2017. Browse Articles Excerpts from our last issue, WINTER 16-17.

American Archaeology Magazine is available on newsstands and at bookstores.  Annual Subscriptions are available by becoming a Member of the Archaeological Conservancy for a Donation of $30 dollars .

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Reexcavating The Collections

COVER: A feather bundle (upper right), a pair of tapestry-woven yucca sandals (below) and a woman’s yucca-cordage apron with human-hair waistcord are some of the artifacts researchers have reexcavated. Credit: Courtesy of the American Museum of Natural History cat. # H-13338; the Museum of Peoples and Cultures, Brigham Young University cat. #1992.30.1 and .2; the Field Museum of Natural History cat. #165246/Laurie Webster
COVER: A feather bundle (upper right), a pair of tapestry-woven yucca sandals (below) and a woman’s yucca-cordage apron with human-hair waistcord are some of the artifacts researchers have reexcavated. Credit: Courtesy of the American Museum of Natural History cat. # H-13338; the Museum of Peoples and Cultures, Brigham Young University cat. #1992.30.1 and .2; the Field Museum of Natural History cat. #165246/Laurie Webster

Spring 2017: By Wayne Curtis.

 In the mid-1890s, a rancher and avid amateur archaeologist from southwest Colorado named Richard Wetherill stood accused of fabricating an entire culture. Digging for artifacts in and around newly discovered cliff dwellings in the Four Corners region, Wetherill announced that he had found evidence of a heretofore unknown people who predated the Native Americans who built the elaborate cliff dwellings. These predecessors were not pottery makers, Wetherill concluded, but they were highly adept at making objects of perishable materials—wooden implements, feather blankets, baskets, woven sandals, and cords. Wetherill had turned up numerous examples that were miraculously preserved for centuries in caches in rocky alcoves protected from the weather.

Much of what is known today about the Basketmaker culture—a term coined by Wetherill—can be traced back to him and other ranchers, cowboys, and adventurers who set off on weeks-long expeditions, mining artifacts as if they were veins of silver, seeking items to resell to Gilded Age collectors. Once unearthed, these artifacts, some dating as far back as 500 B.C., traveled in boxes and barrels via mule, and then by rail to the cities, where the collectors gathered them up and often put them on display. (One of the more notable collections “premiered” at the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago, which also displayed meteorites and wooly mammoth models.) In subsequent decades, the collections were later sold or donated and ended up at a handful of museums, including Chicago’s Field Museum, which arose out of the Columbia Exposition.

In all, about 5,000 artifacts were unearthed and shipped out of the Grand Gulch region of southeast Utah during the 1890s—a practice that would be vilified today, but at that time was not unusual. Remarkably, the majority of these artifacts are still well preserved, but they are not often displayed and are largely unknown to the public. These collections are housed in the storerooms of six museums, and though researchers have access to them, they are generally poorly documented and rarely cited in scholarly published works. Nonetheless, the artifacts have stories to tell about the Basketmaker (500 B.C.-A.D. 700) and Ancestral Pueblo (A.D. 700-1300) periods in this region, and Laurie Webster is determined that those tales be told.

Excerpt.

Read More in our SPRING 2017 Issue of American Archaeology, Vol. 20 No. 4. Browse Content of this Issue: SPRING 2017. Browse Articles Excerpts from our last issue, WINTER 16-17.

American Archaeology Magazine is available on newsstands and at bookstores.  Annual Subscriptions are available by becoming a Member of the Archaeological Conservancy for a Donation of $30 dollars .

Click To Explore Our Online Bonus Images For The Story:

 

 

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