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Archaeological fieldwork will help protect nearby treasures

Students in the 2013 Fort Lewis College Archaeological Field School didn't have to travel far to make discoveries about the Four Corners region's rich cultural history. In fact, they could see their area of exploration from campus.

Fourteen students spent five weeks on the shore of Durango's Lake Nighthorse, only two miles from the FLC campus, learning about archaeological field methods and gaining practical experience in cultural resource management (CRM) – the management of cultural resources in compliance with federal, state, and local laws. Under the guidance of anthropology professors Dr. Riggs and Dr. Jenks, the students examined three sites dating to the Pueblo I period, occupations predating both Chaco Canyon and the cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde.

The goals of this year’s field school were to establish the extent, depth, and integrity of cultural deposits at these sites and to evaluate their research potential. The students' work will be used by the Bureau of Reclamation, which administers the reservoir, to create management plans for the sites.

Learn more about FLC’s Archaeological Field School and our CRM Certificate Program.

Dr. Charles Riggs, associate professor of anthropology and prehistoric southwest archaeologist at Fort Lewis College, serves as the director of the Archaeology Field School.

Dr. Charles Riggs, associate professor of anthropology and expert in Southwest prehistory at Fort Lewis College, serves as the director of this year's archaeological field school.

Students lay out 5-by-5-m grid squares, then collect artifacts from the surface of the site and describe the density and distribution of artifacts

Students lay out 5-by-5-m grid squares, then collect artifacts from the surface of the site and describe the density and distribution of artifacts: (l-r) Cooper Smith, Jacob Collins, Baley Springmeyer, Adam Parker, Dr. Charles Riggs.

After excavating, Marley Herckner and Gabe Doelger pour the excavated sediment through the screen so that they could identify and collect all material culture.

After excavating, Marley Herckner and Gabe Doelger pour the excavated sediment through the screen to identify and collect all material culture.

Hannah Watts excavates a 1-by-1-m test unit under the supervision of Dr. Kelly Jenks.

Hannah Watts excavates a 1-by-1-m test unit under the supervision of Dr. Kelly Jenks.

Eli Lessman and Hannah Watts check their depth measurements to see if they have properly excavated down to the base of the level.

Eli Morgen Lessman and Hannah Watts check their depth measurements to see if they have properly excavated down to the base of the level.

Matt Hanson-Weller, Jacob Collins, and Baley Springmeyer collect artifacts from the surface of the site.

Matt Hanson-Weller, Jacob Collins, and Baley Springmeyer collect artifacts from the surface of the site. “Finding artifacts is really thrilling. We rely on each other to identify objects. The opportunity is amazing. This area is a great place for an anthropology department,” says Hanson-Weller.

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