Sunday, March 17, 2013

Field School. We drove south to near Nogales to work at the Spanish mission site. Portions of the site are in an active road bed and vehicular traffic has damaged prehistoric pit structures and threatens a Spanish-era building. We are also testing a trash midden area to recover a sample of artifacts.

The  first couple of days had bitter cold nights. I shivered in my tent. One day it hailed on us, but we still made progress. My crew worked on the Spanish structure.

First day, first units. Jeremy, Eric, Whit, Tony, and Lisa watch Kellie at work.

Waiting for the hail.

By the second we had found 13 courses of adobe bricks that had fallen down from the north wall.

Rows of fallen adobe bricks.

I got up early every morning to lay out breakfast, make coffee, and put out the sandwich stuff.

My camera shutter is starting to stick.

We camped out at a ranch along the Santa Cruz River.


There are cattle, horses, burros, sheep, goats, turkeys, and chickens.

Friendly Angus steer.

In the morning, the coyotes howled and the burros joined them by braying.


A friendly chicken wanted me to help it get back into the coop, but the lock (to prevent raccoons from getting in) was locked.


Whit built a fire every night to help keep us warm.


Leslie's crew excavated another fire pit, lined with rocks, but we don't know how old it is.

Roasting pit.

It is approaching spring time and Mexican poppies were blooming everywhere.

By the fourth day we were working in prehistoric pit structures, defining the floors in test units. We scraped the road surface and marked the boundaries of the charcoal-stained earth inside the houses. We suspected two were present. We delineated three more. Additional stains in the road suggest there may be many others.

Pit structure.

On Wednesday afternoon I rested in my tent before supper and sipped some tequila.


We played Pit and people had a good time.

Whit and Nick.

Some of the students have parents my age.


The next morning was nice, it was starting to get warmer.

Upside down.

Barney's seven-month-old baby, Sagan, was fascinated with my beard. 

Most of the time he smiled.

Nick was fascinated by the burros.

Nick and his asses.

On Thursday night, as we were walking back from the supper barn, I noticed one of the cows lying down. "That cow is giving birth!" I announced. Nick, Joie, and Ann didn't believe me, but when we got closer, they could see the calf coming out. I called Eric and Kellie over and within a few minutes the calf was born.


On the way out.

Whit did not watch, he said it made him want to vomit. After about 45 minutes, the calf staggered to its feet. It was a little heifer.

The next day.

On Friday afternoon, Ron the ranch manager took me to see a historic stone house, built around 1859.

Pennington House.

The family suffered many tragedies- the father and a son were killed by Apache, another daughter was kidnapped by the Apaches but escaped.

The house needs conservation work, the stone walls are crumbling.


Some of the rocks on the house exterior have carved names and images.

Circle and an X.

On Saturday we completed the 8th day of camping and we were dirty, sunburnt, and tired. My feet hurt so bad, pinched and bruised in my boots.

Nick, Kellie, Whit, Ann, and Kellie at lunch.

By the afternoon we had defined the north portion of the Spanish structure, with burnt roof beams and fired daub lying above the floor. The students will be writing up portions of the report and perhaps we will go back next year to explore more of the site.

Spanish era building, with walls, burnt beams, and the fallen courses of adobe.

Update: Nick asked for a photo of the probable firestarter that he found. Here it is before it was washed. The rounded area was apparently where a stick was twirled among sawdust or grass.

The opposite side has a series of lines carved into it.

You never know what you will find during an archaeological dig.

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