Here are a few photos of the Blackwater Draw Open House and Prehistory Day. Thanks to everyone who came out and especially those who dedicated a Saturday to make this event possible. As usual, we were all so busy that we didn’t take too many photos, especially during the rush. Here are a few to whet the appetite for next year. An estimated 250 people attended throughout the day. The weather was as fair as it gets and a good time was had by all.
Here is a great photo-mosaic from the North Bank excavations in the early 1960s. The humans in the background examining the stratigraphy really put the Clovis-age mammoths in their proper scale. Unfortunately, Mammoth IV in the background is covered in this photo.
When the pyramids were being built, there were still wooly mammoths. A few anyway. Probably more on earth than there are rhinoceroses NOW; today!
Keeping time in perspective is the most difficult task when talking to or writing for the public. Way back in college I kept notebooks of correlating timelines from around the world. I still do this to some degree but it grows too fast to be really useful. Twenty-plus years ago I started a project in Adobe Illustrator (that alone should give some perspective of technology) to create a graphic concordance; but it was too big to handle without making it a job. Anyway, facts like that above are very useful for keeping a perspective of time.
A few other tidbits from this interesting blog post*:
“The last use of the guillotine was in France the same year Star Wars came out” (1977).
“When pilgrims were landing on Plymouth Rock, you could already visit what is now Santa Fe, New Mexico to stay at a hotel, eat at a restaurant and buy Native American silver.” (Santa Fe, New Mexico founded 1610, Plymouth Colony founded 1620).
AND, FOR THE BASEBALL FANS OUT THERE:
*I use these types of “factoids” with caution as the Internet is a sketchy resource at best. Do your research!
A very important and fascinating subject to undertake. Here’s an interesting new article about the domestication of dogs from Science.
Dogs were the very first thing humans domesticated—before any plant, before any other animal. Yet despite decades of study, researchers are still fighting over where and when wolves became humans’ loyal companions. “It’s very competitive and contentious,” says Jean-Denis Vigne, a zooarchaeologist at the National Museum of Natural History in Paris, who notes that dogs could shed light on human prehistory and the very nature of domestication. “It’s an animal so deeply and strongly connected to our history that everyone wants to know.”
Money proved a great motivator. Though dogs loom large in the public consciousness, they don’t tend to loosen the purse strings of funding organizations. As a result, many scientists work on them as only a hobby or side project, piggybacking on funding from other grants. But Larson and Dobney made a strong case to European funding agencies in 2012, arguing that the domestication of dogs set the stage for taming an entire host of plants and animals. “We said, without dogs you don’t have any other domestication,” Larson says. “You don’t have civilization.”
For the first time, we’re going to be able to look at some of these strange skulls like the Goyet skull and figure out how strange they really are,” he says. “Are they wolves becoming dogs, or are they just unusual wolves?” Combining the two approaches, he says, should allow the collaboration to home in on just where dogs came from—and when this happened.
“Archaeology is storytelling,” Hulme-Beaman says. “I think we’re going to be able to tell a great story.”
Reference: Science 17 April 2015:
Vol. 348 no. 6232 pp. 274-279
I have been searching for some time for information about the weight of mammoth tusks. I quite inadvertently came across this today while searching something else. Such is the way of libraries and the internet. It seems that the old estimates for a fifteen to sixteen foot long tusk weighing over 300 pounds is fairly realistic when compared to some African elephant examples from the nineteenth century. From Work, No. 161, 1892.
Too many projects and too few hands have meant that the Blackwater Draw blog gets neglected more than it should. Too much time is spent in petty bureaucracy, assisting other researchers with their personal projects, and fixing the many problems associated with a large, under-staffed cultural property and museum. Hopefully, our new Curator will be posting here soon as she brings new ideas and energy to the position.
However, great things are afoot…
I have been allocated a small but significant amount of money from the University Administration to revamp the Blackwater Draw Museum. Our new facility will be somewhat smaller but is a much better space in a far better location on the main campus of Eastern New Mexico University in Portales, New Mexico. For those who have been to the older museum, you may remember that the displays and much of the “look” dated to about 1970 with several displays being updated in the mid-1980s.
April and May are always busy…
Conferences, school field trips, regional talks fill the calendar. We will be attending the New Mexico Association of Museums meeting later this week, setting up a display and demonstration table at the Archaeology Fair at the Branigan Cultural Center in Las Cruces next weekend, and speaking in Santa Fe next week. Then there are the SAA confernece in San Francisco and the Southwestern Federation of Archaeological Societies meeting in Hobbs, New Mexico.
We will be hosting the New Mexico Prehistory Day and Open House at the Blackwater Draw National Historic Landmark on May 2nd. Come celebrate New Mexico Cultural Heritage Month at the Clovis site with demonstrators and archaeologists from around the state from 10:00 – 4:00 p.m. It’s FREE and open to everyone.