Tuesday, March 31, 2015

I drove down to the field school dig to work on some maps, checking the originals against what was on the ground, drawing a new map, re-drawing one that was strangely incorrect. It was so quiet and peaceful working by myself, methodically moving from square to square.

Most of the work this year was within the animal pens and corrals for the Mission (probably dating to somewhere between 1730 and 1775 or so. The Spaniards brought cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, chickens, and horses to southern Arizona, attempting to get the local Native Americans to become ranchers. At first it was not successful, but gradually the number of livestock increased.

If you have livestock, you need to build corrals and pens for various reasons. If the Apache were coming to raid, you would want to herd the animals into an enclosed area that was defensible. If your cattle and sheep were having calves and kids, you might want then penned to prevent coyotes and wolves from killing the young. Other activities might include shearing sheep, milking cows, goats, and sheep; castrating male livestock, butchering animals, and taming horses to ride.

At the mission we are finding trenches and postholes for the corrals, pens, and chutes. It is likely that not all of these were contemporaneous. The topsoil is very thin and homogenous, it does not allow us to tell whether one trench was earlier than a set of postholes. One posthole is probable much later, perhaps 20th century, but the rest of the features appear to be mission period, since with the exception of some fencing staples and cartridge shells, the remaining artifacts date to the Mission occupation.

We have excavated two large areas. One area has a line of post holes for some sort of fence, and a series of trenches outlining pens and a probable chute.

Looking sort of east.

The chute would have directed animals into the pens, controlling the movement of animals was likely important.

The short, parallel trenches appear to be for a chute.

We re-opened the area from last year and expanded it, examining the patterns of trenches and postholes. It seems likely that there was a ramada in the flat area, surrounded by pens and chutes.

Modern posts mark many of the ancient postholes.

The areas inside the trenches appear to be pens, with many depressions that are probably cattle and horse hoof prints. In the area below, you can see a parallel line of posts separate two smaller pens.  


Last year the vegetation clearly marked the trenches. We traced them this year, again, by using a probe. Finally at the end of the fieldwork the vegetation is growing enough to see the trenches. The plants like the trenches because it cuts down through a hard layer and allows water to accumulate. The dirt filling the trenches is also softer.

Pin flags and vegetation marking a trench.

It was a beautiful day, the clouds passing overhead.

Distant mountain.

The other area we are working is in the road crossing the property. Erosion is damaging Hohokam pit structures, and we have been putting units in collecting artifacts, plant materials for radiocarbon dates and dietary analysis, and identifying architecture.

This house is very typical, with an entrance off one side, a hearth just inside the entrance, and a row of posts along the back wall. Several intrusive roasting pits are also visible. There is a large prehistoric village at the site, probably with many houses. We can only see the ones in the road, the others are buried in the nearby areas. The occupation appears to date to around A.D. 900 to 1100, based on the pottery styles present in the houses and pits.

Feature 47, Hohokam pit structure.

People often ask how we can see the pit structures in the road. The reason- differences in soil color and the presence of charcoal and artifacts, stuff that filled the pit after the house was abandoned. Below you can clearly see the difference in soil color- you should probably click on the picture to enlarge it and it is even more visible.

Different soil colors (click on picture to enlarge).

We excavated a 1m by 2m unit in this house in 2013. Since then, vehicular traffic and the weather have further eroded the structure. A reconstructible vessel has started to appear.

Sherds from a reconstructible vessel.

As I walked back to the ranch I admired more wild flowers.

Little white flowers.

This one just seemed bizarre.

Yellow flower.

A droopy-eared cow was curious and stared at me near the cattle tank.


At the ranch is an example of the type of fence that probably stood in the Mission period trenches we have excavated.

Traditional fence.

Of course I had to stop and say hello to the baby goats. They were all napping, probably tired out from a long morning of playing king of the castle and other goat games.


Monday, March 30, 2015

The Annual Non-Denomination Egg Decorating and Backyard Egg Hunt Party.

Food: Pineapple-Mandarin Orange Upside-down Cake, Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Frosting, Cheesecake with Strawberry topping, potato salad, three bean salad, and chips and salsa. A guest brought a lemon-lavender cake that was really, really good.

Pineapple-Mandarin Orange Upside-down Cake.

I had purchased the contents of the baskets for the top three and the children when my mother was here.

Jesse and Craig were the first guests to arrive! It was Craig's birthday.

Jesse, Craig, Kyle, Abel, and Kyle.

I boiled 90+ eggs.

Patrick, Milo, Nathan, and Mary decorating eggs.

I wore my favorite tee-shirt.

Jesse and Homer.

The artists were artistic.


Chris shows her skills.

Pabli's first egg.

At 4:00 PM the guests assembled. Many were unable to hunt for eggs because of back, neck, shoulder, and hemmoroid problems.

The guests.

People ran around and apparently collected all the plastic eggs (there are probably 400).

Allen and Nathan.


The winners: Kris (196 points), Abel (173 points), and Pabli (160 points).

They were excited with the basket contents.

Afterward, we hung out and chatted and the drinks I had caught up to me.

Ray, Frank, Alex, Craig, and Jesse.

Patrick, as always, made beautiful eggs.


Today I took leftover cake and boiled eggs to work. Reminder for next year- only two cakes and no three bean salad.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Sometimes it is just fun to dress up.

I do it a lot more than I used to. Patrick gave me some hand-me-downs last year and the dress shirts look better with a tie and vest.

Bowtie Thursday.

I have been buying clothing from the Gentleman's Emporium, including a bowler. Last Sunday I docented for the Presidio Trust for a few hours and afterward went to Rosa's for lunch by myself. I caught this older man staring at me in puzzlement. As he was leaving he made a point of turning to look at me again. I guess he has never seen an 1890s dandy before. 

Docent Sunday.

One problem with clothes shopping- my long monkey arms and torso. I have to buy Tall long sleeve shirts and they are harder to find, more expensive, and fewer styles are available. If I was rich I'd buy tailored shirts, but unfortunately I am very much middle class.

A lot of people are commenting on the "Religious Freedom" bills that are busy being passed. Things like, well after discriminating against LGBT people, they will go after Muslims and pregnant women!

Except they won't. As I posted on Facebook today: The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission provides an overview of Federal discrimination laws. It is illegal to discriminate against someone based on their race, color, religion, national origin, sex, pregnancy, age (if over 40), and disability. 

Any attempt by a Christian bakery to refuse service to a Muslim or an unmarried mother would automatically open them up to a lawsuit because these people are covered by existing Federal law.

In contrast, there is no Federal protection for LGBT people. None. 

The people drafting the Religious Freedom laws know this. They crafted these laws to specifically target LGBT people. 

The one problem these state legislators haven't thought about is what happens when a bakery refuses to bake a cake for a lesbian couple or a pharmacist refuses to provide medicine to a gay person. The news will spread quickly on social media and people today are not particularly interested in going to businesses that discriminate. I guess there are Christians out there who are just plain stupid and look forwarding to saying NO! to some gay folks. Wonder if they will be equally excited when they have to file for bankruptcy?

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Third and final year of teaching Archaeology Field School at a Spanish mission site close to the Mexican border. This year we had nine students busy learning about the glamour and excitement of getting dirty and (sometimes) wet.

We are excavating in two places. In the road bed Leslie is supervising the excavation of two Hohokam pit structures. Nearby we are placing units in a probable horse corral and a probable sheep and cattle pen complex.

Alycia, Katrina, Brandon, Anthony, and Shelby documented the corner of the corral with Leslie supervising.

The animal management areas have a very hard surface, of unknown origin, and cutting into the surface are a variety of trenches and postholes, and sometimes trenches with postholes. Fences were once erected in the trenches, with branches woven in between posts. The mission existed between 1700 and 1775, there was no barbed wire fences back then.

A trench ending in a posthole.

It is amazing to see the students transform into archaeologists, by the ninth day they knew exactly what to do.

Marla and Alycia digging a trench.

We have two more Saturdays and then the field work is completed. Next the students do their projects and eventually our report gets published.
Shelby and Mark.

Lots of animals make the desert their home. We found many small tarantulas. Also a couple of scorpions and a nasty centipede. I also saw jackrabbits, cottontails, a cardinal, and vermillion flycatchers. Every night the coyotes would yip and howl. I lay awake in my tent listening to them.


We stayed at a beautiful ranch and of course the animals remind me of my childhood on the farm. Goats started having kids.


Interesting to see the animals in their modern pens and then to expose the 200+-year-old pens at the Mission.

Alycia, Brandon, and Marla preparing cross sections.

Back at the ranch I visited with the donkeys. They like to rest their heads on my shoulder. One got jealous of the attention I was giving the other two and bit me on the arm to remind me who was the boss.


It is spring time and the flowers are blooming.

Yellow flower.

White and yellow poppies.

The sunsets were often gorgeous. As I walked back from the barn where we had our catered suppers, I would stare at the vibrant colors.


A few minutes later.

The fifth kid born did not want to nurse. I tried to bottle feed it (I used to bottle feed our calves on the farm), but was not particularly successful.

Boy goat.

Giselle was much better at it and by the end of the week the little ram had started suckling. 

Giselle helps the kid nurse while Dean watches.

Giselle and kid.

Because he had been handled so much, the boy goat was very friendly.

Milky kisses.

On Thursday afternoon we braved the rain to documented the oldest building constructed by Anglo-Americans in Arizona. The stone structure was completed in 1858-1859.

Pennington House.

The students drew a floor plan, recorded historic graffiti, took photographs of everything, and filled out a form describing the house in detail. The building is already on the National Register of Historic Places. The information we collected will show what its condition was in 2015.

Face carved on one of the doorways.

We forgot to close the gate so I had to go back after supper and do so. Another beautiful sunset.

On the dirt road.

Besides the goats and donkeys, there were a cattle, including this very friendly heifer who liked to have her head scratched. Also chickens, less friendly.

Barney visits with the cow.

Fabiola arrived on Friday with high school students. She was a student on the field school last year. I made her hug one of the donkeys.


I really wanted to kidnap the triplets and watch them jump around my house. I am sure their mother would be upset about this.

Daddy Homer.

It was sad to pack up the tents and return home to Tucson. However, I am enjoying sleeping in a real bed and not waking up cold and wet.

2015 Field School. Anthony, Mark, Marla, Giselle, Barney, Sarah, Brandon, Leslie, Alycia, Nicole, Katrina, Shelby, and Jeremy.

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