During the 1890s, more than 4000 textiles, baskets, wooden implements, hide and feather artifacts, and other organic materials were excavated by local “cowboy” archaeologists from Basketmaker and Pueblo-period archaeological sites in southeastern Utah. Most of these artifacts were shipped to museums outside of the Southwest, where they remain largely unknown to archaeologists and the public. In 2010, the Cedar Mesa Perishables Project was born to “re-excavate” and document these collections. Our work with these 700 to 2000-year-old collections has uncovered a wide range of well-preserved and often-complete wood, horn, bone, and feather implements related to woodworking, hideworking, animal and bird procurement, farming, personal adornment, and other socioeconomic practices. In this presentation, we will discuss some of what we have learned about the use and manufacture of these perishable technologies and how our work with these collections has broadened our understanding of Basketmaker and ancestral Puebloan societies in ways that the study of more durable artifacts cannot.
Dr. Laurie Webster is an anthropologist who specializes in the perishable material culture of the American Southwest. She is a visiting scholar in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Arizona and a Research Associate at the American Museum of Natural History and the Crow Canyon Archaeological Center. Six years ago, she founded the Cedar Mesa Perishables Project to document the thousands of perishable artifacts recovered from alcoves in southeastern Utah during the 1890s.
Chuck LaRue is a wildlife biologist and naturalist who has worked extensively with birds on the Colorado Plateau and other areas of the Southwest for 35 years. He has conducted bird inventories and surveys for Glen Canyon , Grand Canyon, Canyon de Chelly, Hubbell Trading Post, and Black Mesa. He has developed an interest in Ancestral Puebloan technologies and lifeways and has replicated many prehistoric artifacts. He will share examples of these during the presentation.
This lecture series is open to the public. Admission is free to members. A $5 donation by nonmembers is suggested.