Shadows and Stone

Despite what many of us were taught while learning the trades of the cultural resource management world, archaeological imaging does not have to be dull, drab, or black-and-white.

Ken Williams’ photography, as seen on, highlights some amazing stoneworks of prehistoric western Europe with an eye for emphasizing the beauty, alignments, and surroundings of these structures in brilliant colors and contrast.  He also highlights some photos of actual archaeological work in progress and this interest my cartographic side greatly.

They are performing a 360° scan, collecting about 500,000 data points per second.

Also, check out his blog here:

Messing About With PhotoShop

I am very visual and like to see things on a large-scale so I recently re-scaled and stitched together a portion of our work on the South Bank bone bed.  If this image is to be used for publication, it will need a lot of work.  There is really nowhere to stand and it is currently unfeasible to create a scaffold or walkway over this excavation.  Because of this, all the photos were taken “blind”, holding the camera as high as possible with the auto focus turned on.  There is, of course, distortion at the edges and the vignette around each individual image.  This will need to be removed to color/light merge them into a smooth transition.  Although it is much easier than it used to be, it all takes a lot of time.  Hopefully there will be some payoff in the end if for no other reason than it really expresses the complexity of bonebed excavation.

The image is very large and I hope it doesn’t cause too much trouble with people’s browsers.  Click the photo to see a much larger version.

Recent Activity at the Clovis Site

Photo courtesy of Tandy Bozeman.

Photo courtesy of Tandy Bozeman.

Photo courtesy of Tandy Bozeman.

Photo courtesy of Tandy Bozeman.

Lots of activity at the site.  Preparing to open for the season, giving guided tours to visitors, working on the analysis and re-writing our story.  We also had some professional photography done recently and will add those images in the following days.

Photo of the Week 9/23/2011

Excavation of Alberto Isequilla’s pit resumed in 2009 as the fieldschool for ENMU archaeology students.  Many similarities exist 40 years after the initial work; hand-shoveling tons of sandy overburden, traversing the steep entrance ramp into the pit, and seeking shade of any sort.  One major difference is the water present during the Sanders gravel mining operation.

The Van of Enchantment

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The Blackwater Draw Archaeological site recently hosted the traveling New Mexico History Museum.  The Van of Enchantment visited the site as the final part of a visit to the Portales and Clovis area.

Road Trips:  A Brief History of Route 66,  was the third and final exhibit highlighting the history of travel in New Mexico.

This was the Van’s second visit to the Blackwater Draw site and we cannot wait to host a new exhibit next year!

Aerial View

A recent conversation with a graduate student brought to my attention that there was no good aerial image of the Clovis site easily accessed from the web.  We are fortunate to have many from over the years and I will try to annotate one with excavations, features, and other trivia in the near future.  For now, here is an oblique to the northeast with the quarry operations prominent in the center.  Cultural materials are found in all directions out from this portion but this is the heart of previous work.

April 17 Range Fire

A range fire that developed near Melrose, New Mexico Sunday morning narrowly missed the Clovis site in the afternoon.  The Mitchell Dairy appeared to be hit pretty hard but its large crews of machine operators working with the fire department kept the flames mostly moving east-northeast through the afternoon.  Oasis State Park and the Blackwater Draw National Landmark were evacuated by police order.  News reports have now estimated the size of the burn at 17,000 acres so far.  It has been a long time coming under these extremely dry conditions and lack of recent burns.  Fuel levels are high in the area and we have been warned that more fires are likely under the current conditions.

The above photo is looking west from the site immediately after visitors were evacuated.

As winds changed, outlier fires seemed to spring up in new places.

Looking north after the fire jumped the highway.

As the winds held out of the west-southwest, our biggest concern were the smaller fires coming from that direction.   There was another flareup further south but I didn’t get a photo of it.

A photo from the northwest corner of the site over the Mitchell Dairy operations.  Several fire departments and the ranch hands worked long hours into the evening to keep this part of the fire at bay.

Some more images here on YouTube:

Archival Photo of the Week 4/1/2011

This is one of the many dynamite explosions at the Blackwater Draw site during the gravel mining period.  This photo is from the late 1950s to early 1960s and is a view to the northeast.  This photo is a sad reminder of the archaeological tragedy at the Clovis site and so many more artifact and culturally rich sites across the Southern Plains.  Blasting, mining, and looting  are part of the long history at Blackwater Draw.

Archival Photo of the Week

The photo archives of the Blackwater Draw site contain thousands of photographs dating back to the 1930s.  Michele Green, a graduate student at Eastern New Mexico University, is currently undertaking the enormous task of converting these images into a digital format.  As photographs enter the digital database we will select some of those images for our Archival Photo of the Week post.  These images help illustrate the history of discovery and transformation of the Clovis site.

The Archival photo of the Week post attempts to present some of the lesser known photographs of excavation in progress, past workers and excavators at the site, and overviews and images from the period of the active gravel mining operation on the property.  If you have visited the Blackwater Draw archaeological site and are familiar with the present landscape, you may recognize some of views from different areas around the site.  The information connected to many of these photographs is limited and any comments or additional information to add to our archives is welcome.

Many of these photographs have never been published or made available to the public and any unauthorized use of these photographs is strictly prohibited.


A large turtle carapace (shell) excavated from the standing water at the Clovis site in 1960.  Ernest  Lundelius (1972:150) identified this carapace to the genus Testudo rather than the smaller and more commonly found turtle genus Terrapene from the site. The hand in the photo rests on top of the shell to provide scale.  Numerous turtle remains were discovered during excavations at the Blackwater Draw site, many dating to the Clovis cultural period and some even earlier.  Three of these shells have been restored and are on display at the visitor center at the Blackwater Draw site. Gordon Greaves is credited for taking this photograph.