A Day in the Life of an Archaeological Field School (Grad) Student (06/15-18/15)-By Mary Whisenhunt

Working on the survey team has been amazing! The Duncan Valley is so rich in archaeology, yet so understudied. We first surveyed, identified diagnostic materials, and mapped a fascinating Post-Classic Mimbres site with 50-60 rooms that’s very near our primary archaeological field site near Duncan, Arizona. The ceramic sherds are lovely, and give us clues about the age of the site and its continuity of occupation. The only drawback was the snakes…including at least one rattlesnake. I had the bright idea of looking for artifacts under mesquite bushes and was a little too close for comfort to one. Note to self: avoid reaching under foliage after a good rain or on a cool morning. It will not end well.

John Roney explaining the ins and outs of using a GPS (From Left to Right: John Roney, Overton Lesley, Gabriella Zaragosa, and Megan Brown)

John Roney explaining the ins and outs of using a GPS (From Left to Right: John Roney, Overton Lesley, Gabriella Zaragosa, and Megan Brown)

A cute walking stick on Gabriella Zaragosa’s hat

A cute walking stick on Gabriella Zaragosa’s hat

Gabriella Zaragosa and Megan Brown about to set out to flag artifacts!

Gabriella Zaragosa and Megan Brown about to set out to flag artifacts!

The next day (6/18/15) we surveyed in the area adjacent to the Post-Classic site and found…drum roll…a pithouse grouping and lots of very early ceramic sherd!! It’s pretty clear from our work in the Duncan Valley that people have been living along this stretch of the Upper Gila for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. It’s wonderful to get a sense of that continuity. Maybe an excavation here next year? But in the meantime, we’ll initiate a new survey tomorrow and hopefully discover another site!

A little friend the team met while surveying

A little friend the team met while surveying

A Day in the Life of an Archaeological Field School Student (06/17/15)-By Megan Brown

My day was spent surveying the eastern base of Round Mountain. It was my task to flag important flaked stone and ceramic artifacts on site SF-04. John Roney briefly explained the diagnostic attributes of flaked stone I needed to look for, such as the bulb of percussion and the striking platform, as well as how to distinguish between rocks and ceramic sherds before I scanned the ground. We then moved on to an early 1900s railroad camp where I learned how to create a survey site map. I was in charge of drawing the site map and documenting all artifacts found within the map. It was a very productive day that included a small side step into historical archaeology, which included artifacts such as pieces of varying colors of glass and bullet cartridges from varying caliber sizes.

In this picture I am documenting the flagged artifacts in the survey  site map.

In this picture I am documenting the flagged artifacts in the survey site map.

David Barron and I receiving instructions on where to search next for artifacts.

David Barron and I receiving instructions on where to search next for artifacts.

A Day in the Life of an Archaeological Field School Student (06/16/15)-By Robert Gardner

Today I was apart of the survey team led by John Roney and Mary Whisenhunt. We learned how to use a GPS to record discovered artifacts and to create site outline points for site mapping, both on paper and in GIS digital mapping. These two pictures show two of the sites discovered near the base of the Round Mountain by the survey team. The first site, located on a river terrace overlooking the Gila River, is a possible post- Mimbres site based on the pottery sherds found around the site’s several masonry pueblo roomblocks.  The second photo shows a rock ring not unlike the ones found at the top of Round Mountain. This site was also found on a river terrace overlooking the Gila and held two projectile points that date the site to a similar period as the Round Mountain site. Both sites were previously undocumented by archaeologists.

The flags seen in the photo were used to mark the location of pottery sherds. Not pictured, the several rattlesnakes that inhabit the ruins.

The flags seen in the photo were used to mark the location of pottery sherds. Not pictured, the several rattlesnakes that inhabit the ruins.

gardner pic 2

A rock ring located during survey

Gila Cliff Dwellings Field Trip! (06/13/15)

Our first group field trip (06/13/15) was to the Gila Cliff Dwellings in the Gila National Forest. The ancient puebloans of the Mogollon area of the North American Southwest. Dendrochronological dates collected from wall wooden posts from this site places occupation to approximately 1275 AD.

cliff dwellings from afar

View of the dwellings after short climb up a hill, and right before you can explore within the rooms

dwellings from afargila cliff dwellings sign

view from within the dwelling

A view of various rooms from within the dwellings.

view b of dwellingview a of dwelling

A few of the group checking out a room that actually has remnants of paint on the wall, as well as handprints in the wall mortar where the original inhabitants constructed specific sections of the wall. (In picture from left to right: Overton Lesley, David Barron, Mary Whisenhunt, Kimberly Martin, Robert Gardner, NPS volunteer, and Kristina Solis)

A few of the group checking out a room that actually has remnants of paint on the wall, as well as hand prints in the wall mortar where the original inhabitants constructed specific sections of the wall. (In picture from left to right: Overton Lesley, David Barron, Mary Whisenhunt, Kimberly Martin, Robert Gardner, NPS volunteer, and Kristina Solis)

The Graduate Students: (from left to right in back row: Lori Barkwill- Love, Kristina Solis, Ashley Jones. In front row: Mary Whisenhunt and Andrea Thomas)

The Graduate Students: (from left to right in back row: Lori Barkwill- Love, Kristina Solis, Ashley Jones. In front row: Mary Whisenhunt and Andrea Thomas)

Dr. Robert Hard discussing the site with a National Park Service volunteer

Dr. Robert Hard discussing the site with a National Park Service volunteer

Students taking a breather and admiring the site. (In front: Stephanie Dooley. In back from left to right: David Barron, Lori Barkwill-Love, Mary Whisenhunt, Overton Lesley, Rosa Compean-Molina, Haley Fishbeck, Gabriella Zaragosa, and Megan Brown)

Students taking a breather and admiring the site. (In front: Stephanie Dooley. In back from left to right: David Barron, Lori Barkwill-Love, Mary Whisenhunt, Overton Lesley, Rosa Compean-Molina, Haley Fishbeck, Gabriella Zaragosa, and Megan Brown)

Another fascinating aspect of the Gila Cliff Dwellings tour was the rock art in different areas of the park. The group explored different areas surrounding the main dwellings and located various rock art drawings created with a red organic paint.

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A Day in the Life of an Archaeological Field School Student (06/15/15)-By Kimberly Martin

I was assigned to look for artifacts in and around Feature A, which is a rock ring that was found on Round Mountain. I started looking for artifacts by scanning over the top layer of grasses, dirt, and even picking up interesting rocks because they might be some sort of flaked stone tool. On the northeastern portion of the wall I found an obsidian projectile point hidden in-between some of the larger rocks that once made up the wall. Since this was a flaked stone tool, Dr. Hard explained how to document the point in the artifact bag log and how to use a GPS to record the exact provenience for the point. Obsidian is an igneous rock and a volcanic glass that can be very sharp and is perfect for the creation of tools. It can also be sourced back to its original region. If this point were to be sourced and the results indicated it is not indicative to this region, then it may be plausible that the inhabitants of Round Mountain traveled long distances for this resource.

The obsidian projectile point and me. I found within the wall of the  rock ring designated Feature A

The obsidian projectile point and me. I found the point within the wall of the rock ring designated Feature A

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The obsidian projectile point.

UTSA Upper Gila River Archaeological Field School- Week One (06/08-12/15)!

The Field School Players

  • Directors/ Co-Directors
    • Robert Hard
    • Art MacWilliams
    • John Roney
    • Lori Barkwill-Love (Assistant Director), Ph.D candidate
    • Kristina Solis (Lab Director) Ph.D candidate
  • Graduate Students
    • Ashley Jones, Ph.D candidate
    • Mary Whisenhunt, Ph.D candidate
    • Andrea Thomas, M.A. student
  • Undergraduate Students and B.A. Volunteers
    • Ian Bates
    • Megan Brown
    • Rosa Compean-Molina
    • Hayley Fishbeck
    • Robert Gardner
    • Overton Lesley
    • Kimberly Martin
    • David Barron, B.A.
    • Stephanie Dooley, B.A.
    • Gabriella Zaragosa, B.A.

The fun has begun just outside the small town of Duncan, Arizona! Our first week at work was filled with amazing visits from the amazing archaeobotanist Dr. Karen Adams, and geomorphologists Dr. Gary Huckleberry, Dr. Fred Nyles, and Dr. John Sandor. Dr. Adams discussed the history of maize cultivation, maize morphology, and maize in archaeological contexts. She also brought a variety of fantastic samples of Native American maize landraces for show and tell. The Dr. Huckleberry joined the project for a few days to dig four backhoe trenches on this region of the Upper Gila floodplain to establish baseline knowledge on the paleoenvironment of this region and speak to the possibilities of farming potential during Early Agricultural Period (~2100 BC- AD 500 ) occupation in this area of the Upper Gila River. And last, but not least, we began work at our site, AZ:CC:4:61 (ASM), or as it is known the Round Mountain Site!!

AZ:CC:4:61 (ASM); Round Mountain is a Cerro de Trincheras site  and according to radiocarbon dates collected from the 2014 field season the site dates to cal.BC 510 to 395 Round Mountain contains culturally constructed terraces and rock rings. The artifact assemblage includes: groundstone (manos and metates), lithic flakes and projectile points (crafted from obsidian, chert, and rhyolite), and ceramic sherds (the ceramics however are not associated with the main period of occupation).

AZ:CC:4:61 (ASM); Round Mountain is a Cerro de Trincheras site and according to radiocarbon dates collected from the 2014 field season the site dates to cal.BC 510 to 395. Round Mountain contains culturally constructed terraces and rock rings. The artifact assemblage includes: groundstone (manos and metates), lithic flakes, and projectile points (crafted from obsidian, chert, and rhyolite), and ceramic sherds (the ceramics however are not associated with the main period of occupation).

A variety of maize landraces brought by Dr. Karen Adams

A variety of maize landraces brought by Dr. Karen Adams

In Dr. Huckleberry's Backhoe Trench: (From front to back: Ian Bates, Kimberly Martin, Rosa Compean-Molina, and Andrea Thomas

In Dr. Huckleberry’s Backhoe Trench: (From front to back: Ian Bates, Kimberly Martin, Rosa Compean-Molina, and Andrea Thomas

During week one, the students began training in archaeological fieldwork including: survey techniques with John Roney and Mary Whisenhunt, plan/profile mapping, filling out field forms (feature forms, unit/level forms, artifact tags), and breaking ground with excavation at Feature E, which is an oval rock ring.

As part of the process of understanding the architecture of the rock ring features, a group of students worked on cleaning up the rock rings by exercising proficient gardening skills. This “Rock Ring Beautification” project provided us with excellent understanding of the scale of construction and the shape of each feature. The feature beautification also provided Lori Barkwill-Love with a cleared feature to photograph from all angles to create a 3D model using photogrammetry Edgesoft Software.

Dr. Hard discussing the site and the floodplain below to the crew (Shown in picture: Gabriella Zaragosa, Rosa Molina, Stephanie Dooley, Robert Gardner, Ian Bates, Kimberly Martin, Haley Fishbeck, Overton Lesley, Megan Brown, Dr. Robert Hard, and David Barron)

Dr. Hard discussing the site and the floodplain below to the crew (Shown in picture: Gabriella Zaragosa, Rosa Molina, Stephanie Dooley, Robert Gardner, Ian Bates, Kimberly Martin, Haley Fishbeck, Overton Lesley, Megan Brown, Dr. Robert Hard, and David Barron)

Gabriella Zaragosa beginning excavation on Feature E

Gabriella Zaragosa beginning excavation on Feature E

Rock Ring Beautification (from left to right: Overton Lesley, Lori Barkwill-Love, Stephanie Dooley, and Rosa Compean-Molina)

Rock Ring Beautification (from left to right: Overton Lesley, Lori Barkwill-Love, Stephanie Dooley, and Rosa Compean-Molina)

Rock Ring A before beautification

Rock Ring A before beautification