New Mexico

prehistoric Southwest archaeology

No program for 2014; check back in fall 2014 for summer 2015 updates.

The ASU field school in New Mexico immerses students in the prehistory of the U.S. Southwest at our field site in the beautiful and remote eastern Mimbres area. The field school is part of the Mogollon Prehistoric Landscapes Project, a research program investigating 13th and 14th century occupations in southwest New Mexico. Villages from this period show a fascinating diversity in architecture and ceramics, and as a result have been attributed to several different cultural traditions. We investigate the growth of these villages from both local reorganization after the Classic Mimbres Period (A.D. 1000-1130) and from a variety of new pan-regional relationships that developed following the end of the Mimbres Mogollon tradition.

Previous surveys in the study area located over 70 Classic and Postclassic Mimbres sites. Numerous sites from the 12th century have been excavated, but little is known about later occupations in the area. Our current research focuses on archaeological survey of sites from the 13th and 14th centuries, and excavation at a large village from this period on the Palomas drainage. Research may be extended to other contemporaneous sites as time allows.

Our research focuses on social and ecological aspects of settlement reorganization after the Classic Mimbres Period. We are interested in the degree to which diverse ceramic and architectural traditions in villages from this period are local manifestations of distant traditions, or are more closely linked to populations in surrounding regions. We are also interested in the impacts of human land use strategies on the local environment. In other areas of the Southwest, periods of social transformation were often linked to substantial and lasting regional depopulation, but in parts of the Mogollon area large villages were established within 100 years of the depopulation of Classic Mimbres villages. We are interested in the processes involved in this reorganization, including how diversity emerges from homogeneity. 

Training and CreditUndergraduate and graduate students will receive training in archaeological excavation, survey, artifact recording and analysis while participating in ongoing research concerning social and economic reorganization in southwest New Mexico in the 13th and 14th centuries. Along with essential technical skills, the program emphasizes the construction of research strategies that are effective in answering anthropological questions. Field training is integrated with lectures and discussions concerning archaeological method and theory and the natural environment, prehistory, and ethnography of the Southwest. Field trips provide regional context for our research, and visiting scholars from ASU and other institutions provide evening programs. 

Courses offered include:

  • ASM 338  Anthropology Field Session (6)
  • ASB 583  Field Work (6)

The 2012 New Mexico program fee was $3,930, covering 6 credits of coursework, field costs (including camp meals, supplies and equipment), transportation from Truth or Consequences or Albuquerque and transportation while in the field.  

Additional Student Responsibility and Costs: Students will provide their own transportation to either Truth or Consequences or Albuquerque, New Mexico, where they will be met by project staff. Students may drive personal vehicles to the field school if desired, but will not use personal vehicles during fieldwork. You will also need your own tent and sleeping equipment, as well as pocket money for inexpensive restaurant meals during field trips, Laundromats, and souvenirs or other personal expenses.

All participants must provide their own health insurance. Documentation of coverage is required before attending the field school. Summer health insurance can be obtained through the Arizona State University campus health service. 

Students from other universities and colleges are welcome to participate in this program but, for course registration and risk management purposes, must first be admitted to ASU for the summer only as nondegree seeking students before starting their summer program application. Please see the Apply section of our website for more information.

Field camp and atmosphereOur field camp is next to a small desert creek on a private ranch, and centers on a ranch building with bathrooms, kitchen and our laboratory space. Students provide their own tents, and sleep in a camping area near the main building. Project staff prepares meals. The setting is remote with limited access to amenities but abundant with wildlife and natural beauty. 

We spend work days in the field doing excavation and survey, with lectures and laboratory analysis work in the afternoons and some evenings. Weekends include field trips to archaeological sites, contemporary Native American communities and local points of interest that immerse students in the prehistory, history and culture of the U.S. Southwest.

Applications for 2015 will open in fall 2014.

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