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Home | Tag Archives: Jornada Mogollon

Tag Archives: Jornada Mogollon

Gallery+Story: Fort Bliss Archaeology Preservation A Team Effort

About two years ago, Belinda Mollard, a senior archaeologist at Fort Bliss, was escorting officials from the Army’s Installation Management Command to an archaeological site on post when two Soldiers approached and demanded to know what they were doing.

Their actions delighted her.

“It showed that all our education efforts were paying off,” Mollard said.

Mollard, whose official title is Cultural Resources Manager, Senior Archaeologist and Tribal Liaison for the Fort Bliss Garrison Directorate of Public Works Environmental Division, is one of a team of five archaeologists who manage the roughly 20,600 archaeological sites on the 1.12 million acres of Fort Bliss.

The sites span from the Paleoindian period, or about 10,000 BC, through the Cold War years of 1947 through 1991, but most of them concern the Jornada Mogollon, who were in the area from about 200-1450 AD.

Members of the archaeology team try to visit the sites as much as possible to monitor them, but Soldiers can also help in a variety of ways – including by politely approaching people they see in areas around the sites.

Another way is to leave sites undisturbed, Mollard said.

“Rock art is very fragile, so the oils from our hands, and especially lotions, sunscreens, perfumes, things like that, that will actually destroy the rock art faster than natural processes,” Mollard said. “So we ask people not to touch rock art for sure, but even at the sites, we ask you not to touch anything or pick anything up.”

If Soldiers think they might have found a new site or human remains, they should leave everything undisturbed and contact installation officials, Mollard said.

“As a people, we’ve been here a long time,” Mollard said. “We do have human remains that pop up every now and then, so we just ask, ‘Please just let us know.’”

The installation has two environmental liaisons for the training ranges: Shane Offutt and David Black, Mollard said. Offutt is a trained archaeologist with a military background, and Black is a biologist, but both are knowledgeable about potential issues.

“Chances are we know there’s a site there and we just ask them to just shift half a click to the east or a click to the west if there’s a big concentration,” Mollard said.

It’s important to let officials know if someone has found remains, Mollard said.

“If you see something you think is bone, you need to tell us,” Mollard said. “You need to let us know right away. I always tell them it’s not their job to investigate, it’s mine.”

It doesn’t matter what time of the day or night it is, Mollard said.

“A lot of times we’ll get a call, and I don’t mind, I’ll come out at midnight on a Friday or three o’clock in the morning on a Saturday, to make sure it’s coyote,” Mollard said. “That’s fine with me. I’d rather do that than have somebody decide to go and investigate and find out it is human.”

Two caves on Fort Bliss illustrate the importance of properly preserving archaeological resources, Mollard said. They are in close proximity, and one features well preserved, iconic rock art from the Jornada Mogollon period, and the other features mostly obscene graffiti from the 1970s.

“When you look at the archaeological history of this site and look at all the stuff that went on here, and then this is what happened because it wasn’t protected, it’s kind of a shame,” Mollard said of the site with the graffiti during a monitoring visit July 19. “We do the best we can now, but there’s nothing we can really do to reverse this.”

Mollard said the archaeology office works with seven federally recognized tribes – the Mescalero Apache, the Ysleta del Sur Pueblo, the Pueblo of Isleta, the Fort Sill Apache, the Kiowa, the Comanche Nation and the White Mountain Apache – to preserve sites and allow tribal members access when possible.

Tribal members realize that eventually the rock art, for example, will be gone due to natural erosion, but it is still important to protect the sites, Mollard said.

“It’s a delicate balance of how we protect the site,” Mollard said. “We don’t want to stop the natural course of the site, but we do want to stop people from coming up and spray painting.”

Although Fort Bliss archaeological sites are off limits to the public, people can learn more about archaeology in the Fort Bliss area at the El Paso Museum of Archaeology at 4301 Woodrow Bean Transmountain Drive.

Also, at the Hueco Tanks State Historic Site (6900 Hueco Tanks Road) people can take self-guided or staff-guided tours of pictographs and petroglyphs, and at the Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument in Silver City, New Mexico, people can visit preserved cliff dwellings of the Mogollon people, cousins of the Jornada Mogollon.

Author: Wendy Brown – Fort Bliss Garrison Public Affairs

NMSU Anthropology Students Continue Excavation of “Empire” Pueblo

Students in New Mexico State University’s Department of Anthropology recently participated in a field school excavating Cottonwood Spring Pueblo north of Las Cruces.

“The pueblo dates from about 1300 to 1450 A.D.,” said Kristin Corl, a crew chief on the project who is working on her Ph.D. in anthropology. “I led six students in working on one part of the pueblo, a 200-room section, and our goal was to date various parts of the rooms and also determine the architecture.”

Corl said they primarily use three techniques to date various aspects of the pueblo.

“By collecting ceramic sherds, we’re able to get an idea of when the site was occupied and who they were trading with,” Corl said. “We’re also able to do carbon dating on very tiny pieces of charcoal and tree-ring dating by examining the wooden beams from the roofs.”

Excavation work at Cottonwood Spring Pueblo. (Photo courtesy of Christopher Stanton) JUL18

Corl, who earned her master’s in anthropology at NMSU working with William Walker, an anthropology professor and principle investigator at Cottonwood Spring, is now working on her doctorate at the University of Texas-San Antonio.

Corl has been working on the site since it was opened by White Sands Missile Range, which co-owns the land along with the Jornada Experimental Range and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, in 2012.

“After about 1150 A.D., a lot of smaller pueblos throughout southern New Mexico disbanded but there was an aggregation of people at this pueblo on the Jornada del Muerto,” Corl said. “So it’s a really interesting time period and one I wanted to stick with and learn more about.”

The pueblo was inhabited by the Jornada Mogollon people, a sub-group of the Mogollon people, who were native to southern New Mexico and west Texas. The pueblo was inhabited just before Spanish contact and is one of the larger pueblos in the area, with more than 400 rooms in six sections spread over a mile-long area.

Hannah Clark is another crew chief on the project and is working on her master’s degree at NMSU.

“This was my second time working at Cottonwood Spring,” she said. “This time around we worked in area ‘A’, which has about 200 rooms. We worked on 10 rooms, excavated three different layers of the floor, and uncovered 60 features, which is unprecedented; we’re not really sure what that particular room was used for. Some people think it was a ritualistic room; my idea is that it was a meat-preservation room. So that’s something we’re still trying to determine.”

Students’ camp area near Cottonwood Spring Pueblo. (Photo courtesy of Christopher Stanton) JUL18

Allison McCullar is an English major who recently added anthropology as a second major. This field school was her first experience in excavating a site.

“I took an anthropology class as a gen-ed requirement and really loved it, so I decided to add on anthropology,” she said.

While initially nervous because she didn’t know much about excavating and was worried she would destroy artifacts, McCullar worked on

Clark’s team and enjoyed the experience.

“I expected the excavating to be more physically challenging but, aside from the heat, it wasn’t as bad as I thought,” she said.

The field school ran June 23-29 and the students, who commuted from Las Cruces to the pueblo each day, learned basic excavation techniques, artifact processing, and artifact analysis

Author: Billy Huntsman – NMSU

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