I was taking water samples from around Santa Fe Ranch’s property to establish what the local oxygen isotopes in the water looked like prior to sampling archaeological cattle and sheep tooth enamel from the site. Lo and behold, there was water in the Santa Cruz River, flowing north from Mexico, with some lovely cottonwoods in the background. It was so pretty, I stopped collecting water and snapped a picture. This picture was taken right below the outcrop where Mission Guevavi was built.
I should perhaps mention why this was special. The Santa Cruz is an intermittent, frequently dry river, and very rarely “flows” visibly these days. Decades of drilling wells have substantially lowered the local water table.
I was fortunate enough to take part in two science panels at Phoenix Comicon this year, which are part of the 90+ hours of continuing education credit hours offered to teachers at the conference. It was a great experience. Colonialism and invasive species are explored throughout science fiction, and sci fi became a great entry point for talking about current research.
One of the parts of my work that is difficult to explain is training people to tell the difference between human and non-human bone. So every two years or so, the bioarchaeologists and zooarchaeologist at the Arizona State Museum are invited to do a 2 hour training. I happen to be the zooarch at the museum for the time being, and it was an honor for me to take part. So I packed up a coyote, dog, rabbit, quail, and javelina skeletons as well as some frequently confused fragments, and we headed to the San Xavier District Council Chambers. Above is a picture of one of the dogs we brought in its plastic conservation tent.
If you’d like to know more about telling the difference between human and non-human bone, check out ASM’s site.
I was lucky enough to go on my first visit to the Sonora missions this past spring 2016. It was a short 3-day trip through the Southwestern Mission Research Center, and was the second trip the group led since it re-started tours to Spanish missions in northern Sonora. Concerns about border violence briefly paused the visits.
San Diego de Pitiquito was built in the 1770s by O’odham artisans, and the paintings were likely finished around that time. Below are a few photos of the original painted decorations, which are helpful reminder that missions were often brightly colored. Local history has it that the walls were plastered a plain white in the 20th century and the paintings were re-discovered by accident. There’s a whole story about that.
Here are images of the celestial decoration above the sanctuary, the Queen of Heaven, and an enormous skeleton. You can also see a rooster and the ox representative of St. Luke. Both of these animals were introduced as a result of contact with Europeans that was initiated in Pitiquito in 1694. By the time the church was built, these animals had been around for almost 100 years.
“For in the seemingly little and insignificant things that accumulate to create a lifetime, the essence of our existence is captured.”
James Deetz, In Small Things Forgotten: The Archeology of Early America, 1977, p. 161.
As part of my time in Tucson, I have had the privilege to take part in some awesome events, programs, and discussions. The raison d’être of this blog is to simply curate a few of those things. It seems a shame they should be lost on the corner of a listserv, left as a single bullet on a progress report, or misplaced in a Facebook feed. This is my small effort to find the best, pick them up, brush them off, and present them in my internet collection.