After Decades of Frozen Stagnation

It’s not often profitable to point out the negative but conversely, it doesn’t do us good to hide our problems and pretend they don’t exist.

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A little cleaning to start things off.

We have been making small improvements over the past year in the Blackwater Draw Museum and I certainly hope they continue.  We began by removing decades of accumulated junk, hoarded telephone books, outdated flyers, broken appliances, broken electronics, food containers, etc. that accumulated in the backrooms of the museum.  Now we begin a new phase.  We are still extremely limited by budget but a little enthusiasm from students and a little guidance can go a long way toward making things better.  Many thanks to those who began helping last year and who are moving us forward into a new era.

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Brightening and creating a clean look.

Much to everyone’s consternation, Some displays have lingered, unfinished, for 20 years.  This level of apathy brings me actual physical pain but enthusiastic volunteers were found to kickstart a new look.

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Unfortunately, I didn’t photograph this before we began but this is a couple hours into work.  Tattered labels are removed, and a base layer of blue was put into the oceans.

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Coastlines were repaired, poorly-placed elements removed, and color is layered on.

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The artist not only repaired Cuba, Florida, the Canadian islands and lakes, but was so bold she added Iceland as well.

More to come as we move forward.

Following Up on the South Bank

The South Bank of the Clovis site refers to an area at the southern end of the prehistoric pond around which lie a group of cultural sites spanning a time from the end of the last ice age until recent historic times.  This watering hole provided a marshy habitat for plants and animals and was the focus of human activity for the last 14,000 years.

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The South Bank area of the Clovis site. View to the southwest.

Professional research on the South Bank of the Clovis site has been going on since the mid-1930s.  In fact, this is the area of the Clovis site where it was discovered for the first time, beyond any legitimate doubt, that humans were hunting mammoths in North America.  Other than the spear points we now know as Clovis, major discoveries in the South Bank area include bone spear points embedded in mammoth, spokeshaves, gravers, Levallois blades, turtle shells, bone flakers, bone foreshafts, and a variety of knives and other cutting tools.

Although more work has been done in the South Bank area than any other portion of the site, only a tiny fraction of all the work in this area has been published to date.  A few of us are working hard to remedy this and I have dedicated my career to unraveling the mess of 80+ years of excavation, sampling, and recording of this site.

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Edgar Howard at the Clovis site, 1933.

What we’re up to now.  A building was placed over a small portion of the South Bank in the 1990s to preserve in situ some of the spectacular preserved specimens from this area.  As time permits, we are slowing removing the overburden in this area to reveal the palimpsest of bison kills, butchering, and other activities in this area.  A particularly good crew of excavators with faunal experience were willing to volunteer some of their time over the past couple weeks and huge progress is being made.

 

Here’s a gallery of random photographs from the excavations so far.

Thanks to those who are giving time to this project of mine.  Since, for me, archaeology isn’t worth doing without disseminating the information to the broader public I’ll update the blog as we continue to make progress.  Unfortunately, day-to-day operations of the Landmark and the university take precedent over the fun stuff like this so it will be back to the grindstone before too long.

Blackwater Draw Atlatl 2013

A few photos from the Blackwater Draw Atlatl 2013.

Paleoamerican Odyssey

I hope to keep this page updated during the Paleoamerican Odyssey Conference.  It will be a chore but it could be interesting. With the somewhat dark connections associated with the Clovis and Beyond Conference, rumors abound about this one including motives, funding, and possible personal agendas. After speaking of this with colleagues, I think the latter fear comes from the recruitment of the speakers as opposed to a general call for papers.  I’ll keep an open mind and let it flow over me.  I certainly expect to learn some new things.

And of course I’ll keep posting if I can.

Here’s a small copy of one of my posters to be presented.  The original is much larger but this will give the gist.  Just finished up at the printer’s.  Please don’t use without permission as the resolution is terrible on this one.

Tutorial 16: giving good talks (in four parts)

Paleotool:

Much of the academic life revolves around speaking well and giving good presentations.  Here is some great advice from Mike Taylor over on an excellent blog about dinosaurs and other things paleontological.

Originally posted on Sauropod Vertebra Picture of the Week:

As the conference season heaves into view again, I thought it was worth gathering all four parts of the old Tutorial 16 (“giving good talks”) into one place, so it’s easy to link to. So here they are:

  • Part 1: Planning: finding a narrative
    • Make us care about your project.
    • Tell us a story.
    • You won’t be able to talk about everything you’ve done this year.
    • Omit much that is relevant.
    • Pick a single narrative.
    • Ruthlessly prune.
    • [You want to end up with] a structure that begins at the beginning, tells a single coherent story from beginning to end, and then stops.
  • Part 2: The slides: presenting your information to be understood
    • Make yourself understood.
    • The slides for a conference talk are science, not art.
    • Don’t “frame” your content.
    • Whatever you’re showing us, let us see it.
    • Use as little text as possible.
    • Use big fonts.
    • Use high contrast between the text and background.

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Bioarchaeology Link: Powered by Osteons

PBO-version1A Bone Girl Blog

Powered by Osteons is an interesting bioarchaeology website with a focus on Rome but with a remarkably broad set of interests.  I have only scratched the surface myself.

Dr Kristina Killgrove is an “assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of West Florida.  My educational background includes degrees in Latin (BA, University of Virginia), Classical Archaeology (BA, University of Virginia; MA, UNC Chapel Hill), and Anthropology (MA, East Carolina University; PhD, UNC Chapel Hill).  I have a strong commitment to interdisciplinary work, as my research and teaching bridge the sometimes large divide between classics and anthropology.Dr is an assistant professor of biological anthropology at the University of West Florida.”

From her website:

“I am trained as a classical bioarchaeologist, and therefore am one of the few scholars who has started to answer questions about the ancient Romans using their skeletons. My research has focused primarily on immigration to Rome and urban collapse at Gabii during the Imperial period (1st-4th centuries AD). This work blends anthropological theory, biochemical analysis, and classical archaeology to find out more about people rarely represented in the historical record of the Roman world: immigrants, women, children, and slaves.”

Currently, I am an assistant professor of biological anthropology at the University of West Florida.”

Her professional link is here: http://killgrove.org/

Go forth and learn some of the latest in bioarchaeology.

A Visit to Tonto National Monument

Recently, I was able to finally visit Tonto National Monument in southern Arizona a short drive from Phoenix.  Early April can be a beautiful time in the Sonora before the temperatures rise beyond the point of misery.  Much of the desert was in bloom during the visit and the snakes were definitely awake.

Cactus in BloomSpecifically, this short trip was to the Upper Cliff Dwelling, a 30-40 room structure located high on the hillside overlooking a large valley near the Salt River probably occupied from the 13th-15th centuries.

Looking up

Looking up to the structure.

Guided hikes are available to the Upper Ruin from November through April on this easy 3 mile round trip.

Down the Valley

Looking northeast from the Upper Ruin trail.

The winds were really up and our guide lost his hat in a whirlwind.  Luckily it was found down the mountain later by another group.

Closer

The ruin coming into view as we made the switch backs up the mountain.

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Intact floor posts and joists.

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Mined for artifacts in the early days, this site has still yielded loads of data about its inhabitants.

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A cistern at the back of the rock shelter shows where the seep or spring was located. It still contains some slight moisture.

DSC_0268 DSC_0267 DSC_0266 DSC_0265 DSC_0263 DSC_0262 DSC_0260Thanks to Roger Dorr for the excellent tour of the park in action.