Southwest Archaeological Field Work 2016


The summer field season has wrapped up. The students are back in their hometowns and cooling off from the extreme Arizona heat. This summer marks summer #3 of archaeological fieldwork for me and boy was it an incredible experience. I spent it yet again in the American Southwest, a place riddled with the remains of past human life. Of course, as before, the location of my work will remain private. There is such a horrible looting problem and I’d rather not contribute to or provoke those actions.

For starters, this was the first year I’ve been out in the field and have had the role of being a crew chief. Meaning I was in charge of the excavation of a unit and was responsible for teaching a new group of students every week of the proper procedures and tedious process of archaeological excavation. IMG_5572

Although there were times things got a little heated (literally and metaphorically), the students this field season were excellent. Such a wonderful group of humans working together towards a common goal, whether it was excavation of the pueblo or survey of the surrounding land. A hard working bunch with a strong desire to learn. I couldn’t continue this post without acknowledging their drive, without which our work would be much more difficult and near impossible. IMG_5585

That being said, we accomplished so much this summer. Excavation in my unit in particular yielded such amazing information including evidence of ritual closure. Many ceramic sherds were found along with a full projectile point, bone beads and a few awesome features. All of this was found underneath wall fall, which seems to have been pushed down intentionally as a way of closing the space (extramural). It was truly incredible.

Survey of course revealed so much information that we did not expect. So many new archaeological sites were found ranging from Paleo sites to Pueblo period. This area isn’t known for having paleo sites so these findings are incredibly important for the archaeological record.

All in all, a fantastic field season with amazing people and wonderful finds. I apologize for the vagueness of the findings. I cannot describe with too much detail the area or the findings due to sensitivities of both site integrity and the living descendants of these past peoples.

To everyone reading this: Please understand that we must protect these cultural resources. Do not pick up or destroy archaeological remains of any sort and take it away from it’s context. As archaeologists, we need things to remain where they are found in order to learn anything from them. Respect the archaeological record and the descendants of the people who left them. 



The Tucson Mountains

Took a hike up the Tucson Mountains with my dad. This is a hike that I have been doing with him since I was a child. I remember this trail and the specific trees and cacti that have been there since my childhood and years before my very existence. The memories made here are incredible.

The desert is often thought to be a baron wasteland to those who don’t live here, but once you go out and take in the landscape yourself, you realize that the desert is beautiful in it’s own way. The plans are not welcoming and can often be hostile if you get too close, but this is how they survive their own environment. The desert isn’t an easy place to survive. The plants are tough!

The Sonoran Desert. Such a wonderful place. Here are some pictures in an attempt to capture its beauty!

Madera Canyon

Took a spontaneous drive to Madera Canyon this weekend. The only thing I meant to do was go up there, enjoy the views, take some great pictures and just get some fresh air. Little did I know that the seemingly leisurely trip to Madera Canyon would turn into a full on hike up the longest trail available! Not that I’m complaining. I had a blast! I got some amazing shots along the trail and a lot of silent reflection time. Nature is beautiful. Life is beautiful.

There were so many photos of this hike! Here are some of my favorites.

Southwest Archaeology Pt.1

Archaeological fieldwork in the Anasazi culture area (Northern AZ & NM and Southern UT & CO). For the sake of privacy and protection, I will leave out the details of the location.

When people think about archaeological fieldwork they think of people digging in pits. Although excavation is a huge part of fieldwork, much of the work in archaeology involves survey. There are various methods of survey but this particular survey involved was is called “field walking” to cover planned out transects. This allows for a more thorough search from sites and artifacts while walking very systematically over the land. Sites and artifacts are recorded but rarely are the artifacts collected. The artifacts collected are usually the rare finds such as projectile points and intact groundstone. Projectile points are collected due to the rarity of the finds and the possibility of finding them again are rare even after taking down their coordinates. Groundstone is extremely important due to the traces of various organic materials and minerals that can be found in it’s pores.

You will see in the photos that I have demonstrated some of these materials that were collected. One of them is a Clovis point. Clovis is perhaps one of the oldest known cultures in the Americas, dating to approx. 13,000 years ago. There is still a lot of debate in the archaeological world about Clovis being the oldest in the Americas.

In another photo you will see an intact metate. This was most likely used for the purposes of grinding down various grains and perhaps dates closer to Late Archaic, 500BC. However, since it was just found this summer, the exact timeframe of this particular metate is unknown.

The photo of the rock art was not found on our survey but was close to where we were working. It is located in a canyon that has thousands of petroglyphs dating from thousands of years ago all the way to just a few hundred years ago.

What is extremely important to realize is that these artifacts, although very interesting, should not be removed from where they are found unless there is a professional archaeologist in the field to ensure properly recorded information. Context is everything in archaeology. Just because you found a cool Clovis point doesn’t mean that picking it up and taking it home is ok. Even if your intentions are good and you take it to a museum, we encourage you not remove it from its place. Without context, very little (if any) information can be gained from that artifact. Let’s learn more about the past and remember that without proper research, we can know very little.

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed! I will post more about my archaeological adventures as they come up!

A Hike Is More Than A Hike

DSC_0126When I planned to hang out with an old friend the first thing that came to mind was a hike. Living in Tucson, AZ, there are plenty of places to go but the hike that came to mind, mainly because I had never done it, was Tumamoc Hill. This is known as one of the toughest hikes in Tucson due to it’s steep incline but we were up for the challenge. I showed up with my camera and a bottle of water and we headed to the top. What an amazing hike! The views were spectacular, especially because of it being late evening with the beautiful Tucson sunset.

Not only were the views amazing and the hike tough enough for me to break a sweat, but it was the perfect place to catch up with an old friend. When we got to the top we reflected on the time spent together in this city in the past, how much things have changed over the years and where we suspected and hoped our lives were going. It made me realize just how much I have changed as a person since leaving home. It was truly amazing.

I learned a lot on this hike. You can go home again, although things are different. No matter how much time and space separates you and a good friend, when you finally meet up again, it’s like you were together the whole time. There is always time to laugh, love and find beauty in everything that you do.

There is nothing like a great hike with good people to create wonderful memories and reflect on where you came from and where you are now. When you go hiking, it really is more than just a hike.



Hello everyone! Welcome to my blog! Let me introduce myself and and the purpose of this blog. My name is Danielle and I am a student of Anthropology focusing in Archaeology. Archaeology of the American Southwest is my passion and when I’m not in class you can usually find me out doing archaeological fieldwork. Currently I’m not in school due to a Fall graduation and a wait period between now and graduate school. Although archaeology is my primary focus, I absolutely love traveling and being outdoors. This blog is to share my experiences through photos and memoirs from my little adventures, whether they be anthropological in nature or just exploring the overall beauty of what our Earth has to offer. I hope to be able to share and celebrate our world’s beautifully diverse cultures, past and present, as well as the natural beauty that we should aim to help preserve.

If you have interest in any of this please continue to look out for my posts! I’m new to WordPress so I’m not entirely sure how this works!