Learning About The Corona Phase: English-Harkey (New Mexico)

The English-Harkey site could provide important information about this little-known phase of SW Prehistory.

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A flake (top) and a sherd found on the site. Credit: The Archaeological Conservancy.
A flake (top) and a sherd found on the site. Credit: The Archaeological Conservancy.

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The English-Harkey site lies in Lone Mountain Canyon, a few miles north of the Town of Carrizozo, New Mexico. The site, which was first recorded in 1973, is an early Jornada Mogollon settlement that dates to the little-known Corona Phase between A.D. 950 and 1000, when this region was scattered with small hamlets.  Subsequently, people began to aggregate at larger sites and focus more intensively on agriculture.

In 1986, a team led by archaeologists Jane Kelley and Joe Stewart of the University of Calgary in Alberta, Canada, investigated the site, which is named after landowners Fred English and Howard Harkey of Carrizozo. The researchers defined the site boundaries, created a map, and proposed auger testing and excavations of portions of the site. In order to determine the nature, depth, and preservation of cultural deposits, the archaeologists conducted forty-nine auger tests within and outside of forty-three features.  They also excavated two of these features as well as another area. The researchers’ principal objective was the recovery of faunal and botanical samples from these archaeological contexts, since such material has rarely been found intact at a Corona phase site.

Botanical analysis of the plant remains revealed charred corn, juniper seeds, pine bark fragments, and yucca seeds and pods. The faunal remains came from antelopes, rabbits, and rodents. Future research at the site will help to refine our understanding of the region’s chronology and the nature of subsistence strategies for this period during which people apparently did not practice intensive agriculture.

The site faced threats from modern development, looting, grazing, and erosion, and was listed for sale by the previous landowners. The Conservancy recently purchased the 19.5-acre lot containing the site for $15,000 with funds from the Point-6 program. The site will be fenced and a long-term management plan will be created to address site security, stabilization, and access issues with input from adjacent landowners, the State Historic Preservation Division, and knowledgeable archaeologists.

This excerpt was published in our SUMMER 2018  Issue of American Archaeology.

Browse the article excerpts in our last issue SUMMER 2018 Issue.

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

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