New Research Underway at Untouched Chaco Outlier

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Researchers at work on the 500th Site Pueblo. Photo Chaz Evans/TAC.
Researchers at work on the 500th Site Pueblo. Photo Chaz Evans/TAC.

Recent exciting research was conducted at the 500th Site Pueblo, a previously unresearched Chaco outlier site. This site makes the 500 site protected and preserved by The Archaeological Conservancy. The new research focused on ceramics analysis and geophysical site survey. The project was led by Hannah Mattson PhD, postdoctoral fellow of UNM with help from Distinguished Professor of Anthropology Dr. Patricia Crown, also UNM. The Research team also came across some amazing surface finds during the process.

Gaming Piece found on Surface of the 500th Site Pueblo. Photo Chaz Evans/TAC.
Gaming Piece found on Surface of the 500th Site Pueblo. Photo Chaz Evans/TAC.

Dr. Mattson research has included adornment and jewelry, as well as Pottery and GIS in the Chaco World. She has explored Chacoan identity and practice by examining the social values placed on ornaments from Pueblo Bonito and Aztec Pueblo’s West Ruin in her dissertation work. She has a PhD and MA from the University of New Mexico and a BA from Oregon State University.

Dr. Hannah Mattson hard at work in the field.
Dr. Hannah Mattson hard at work in the field.

Dr. Crown conducts research in the areas of southwestern archaeology, ceramic analysis, the archaeology of childhood and gender in archaeology.  She has received international attention for her research into the prehistoric use of cacao at Chaco Canyon in New Mexico and into the ritual use of a black drink by Native Americans at Cahokia. The chocolate must have come from Central America, where the beans are grown, and suggests a regional economy that included trade in precious luxury items, Crown’s research suggests. Dr. Crown also studies the role of women in past societies. Dr. Crown received her doctorate from the University of Arizona in 1991, and has been on UNM’s faculty since 1993.

Amazing Surface finds of Beads and Turquoise. Photo Chaz Evans/TAC.
Amazing Surface finds of Beads and Turquoise. Photo Chaz Evans/TAC.

Ground Penetrating Radar conducted by Jennie Sturm of TAG Research, and GIS/Topographic map building work done by Dr. Weatherbee Dorshow.

Jennie Sturm has over 10 years of geophysical archaeological experience. She has worked with CRM firms, government agencies, non-profits, and academic institutions providing geophysical and geospatial consulting in a variety of contexts. These include both historic and prehistoric archaeology, cemeteries and burial studies, historic preservation, environmental studies, geology/paleontology, and construction. She has conducted geophysical surveys and authored technical reports in 15 U.S. states and five countries. She is currently working on her Ph.D. at UNM.

Dr. Wetherbee Dorshow is president and owner of Earth Analytic, Inc. (EAI). Wetherbee also serves as the Executive Director of The GIS Institute, a not-for-profit organization that investigates human adaptations to environmental change with advanced geospatial technology and science. Wetherbee also is an Assistant Adjunct Professor in the Anthropology Dept. at the University of New Mexico. Wetherbee has over 27 years of experience as a professional archaeologist, scientist, GIS analyst and web developer. Wetherbee has earned a Doctor of Philosophy, Anthropology (Archaeology) and an MA, Anthropology (Archaeology) from the University of New Mexico, as well as a BA, Anthropology from the University of Vermont.

Working the GPR Unit. Photo Chaz Evans/TAC.
Jennie Working the GPR Unit. Photo Chaz Evans/TAC.

The so named 500th Site Pueblo, is an amazing 45-acre Chaco outlier occupied from A.D. 1050 to 1130, is located on a ranch near Grants, New Mexico, not far from Chaco Canyon. From A.D. 850 – 1150 Chaco Canyon in northeastern New Mexico was the administrative, spiritual, and economic capital of the Southwest.  While Chacoan culture, with its dramatic great houses and concentration of monumental architecture, was centered within the canyon, its influence extended to more than 150 outlying communities spread across some 31,000 square miles in northwest New Mexico, southwest Colorado, southeast Utah, and northeast Arizona.  A network of roads linked outlying communities with Chaco’s downtown.  Its outlying settlements are critical to understanding Chaco, but these outliers are threatened by vandalism and oil and gas development.

We are very excited to learn what this crack team of Chaco and Southwestern archaeologists found out about this very special outlier, once their results some back!

Your gift of $25, $50, or more for the Preservation Fund designated for the 500th Site Pueblo will make such a difference in our efforts to preserve this endangered archaeological site.  If you donate $100 or more you will receive the fabulous commemorative T-shirt (pictured below).  We need to raise a total of $45,000 to cover the purchase price, closing costs and fencing.

Thirty-six years ago The Archaeological Conservancy was founded to preserve sites on private lands, during that time we’ve saved more than 500 of them. Read more about our work saving sites!

500th Site Celebration T-shirt Design
500th Site Celebration T-shirt Design

Some of Dr. Mattson’s Chaco research includes:

1 COMMENT

  1. I found it very interesting that the prehistoric use of cacao at Chaco Canyon in New Mexico and the ritual use of a black drink by Native Americans at Cahokia was discovered by Dr. Crown.Mthe prehistoric use of cacao at Chaco Canyon in New Mexico and into the ritual use of a black drink by Native Americans at Cahokia. Moreover, I like the evidence that chocolate must have come from Central America, where the beans are grown, and suggests a regional economy that included trade in precious luxury items.

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