University of Arizona, School of Anthropology Fieldschool at Rock Art Ranch, 2016

The University of Arizona School of Anthropology’s Rock Art Ranch Fieldschool will conduct its fifth summer of fieldwork from June 6 to July 9, 2016. The fieldschool is for undergraduate and graduate students at all skill levels. The participants will learn both archaeological survey and excavation techniques. For survey, participants will learn site identification, location and mapping using GPS and a total station; artifact identification, collection and processing; soil and plant identification; and artifact analysis and sourcing. For excavation, the participants will learn mapping at all levels of the site, feature identification, the principles of stratigraphy and their application to the archaeological record, seriation techniques, artifact identification and typology, and basic laboratory procedures. Finally, students will be shown how by combining the techniques of survey and excavation, a more complete understanding of human society in the past can be achieved. Click here for an article on the 2015 fieldschool.

Project Location: Rock Art Ranch is a private ranch 25 miles southeast of Winslow that still raises cattle and bison. The ranch contains some of the Southwest’s most spectacular rock art dating from 5000 BC to AD 1400, which has been completely documented. The ranch lies in the high desert at 5100’ elevation, in an area used over the past 8-13,000 years by mobile hunting and gathering groups, early farmers, and later, after A.D. 500, by more ceramic-producing, sedentary farmers representing archaeological cultures of the adjacent Mogollon Rim and Colorado Plateau regions. No professional archaeological work had been conducted on the ranch or its nearest neighbors, other than documentation of the petroglyphs, until the field school began.

For 2016, the participants will focus on finding and describing the archaeological record of the ranch through survey while conducting a third season of excavations at a small pueblo on the ranch (AZ P:3:114) radiocarbon dated 1225–1255 CE. To date 153 sites have been documented and collected representing how people have used the landscape over the past 13,000 years, providing insight into how and why groups migrated to and from the area, and what role the rock art played in communicating identity and ownership. Through radiocarbon dating, excavations have already helped develop a tighter chronology for the area and provided details on length of site occupation and subsistence base. The 110 new sites cluster in three time periods: Archaic/Basketmaker II (pre/early agricultural), 3000 BCE-500 CE; Basketmaker III/Pueblo I, 600-900 CE; and Pueblo III, 1100-1250 CE. However, in 2015 we discovered and recorded two Paleoindian sites with a range of points from Agate Basin to Clovis that suggests hunting of extinct animals on the ranch 11,500 to 6,000 BCE.

It is the BMII groups who created most of the petroglyphs. BMII, BMIII, and PI ancestral pueblo groups occupied pit houses, rooms excavated into the ground, whereas PIII groups built small to medium-size pueblos of 5 to 20 rooms. Each habitation site housed 2-5 families. Locations where Pueblo groups farmed have also been discovered and are helping us understand the complex and lengthy use of Rock Art Ranch by groups with different subsistence bases over the past 13,000 years.  The pueblo to be further excavated is part of a small community of farmsteads (pueblos of 2-10 rooms) surrounding extensive tracts of arable land on and just north of Rock Art Ranch.

Schedule: Field and laboratory sessions are from 6:30 am to 3:00 pm Monday through Friday, except Thursday afternoon when students work in the lab and on projects. Saturdays are devoted to field trips with dinner eaten at local restaurants. Due to the remote location of the project, trips to Winslow to do laundry and shopping will be done on Sunday morning with the afternoon available for exploring or catching up on sleep.

Field Trips and Lectures: There will be four field trips: one to the Hopi mesas for an opportunity to see communities and ceremonies of the descendents of some of the groups who lived in the research area; one to a Homol’ovi State Park where descendents of groups using the study area may have migrated in the late 1200s CE; the other two are National Parks and Monuments focused on archaeological sites. Talks by staff and guests, including indigenous anthropologists, will take place 2-3 evenings a week during weeks 2-4 in the dining hall. These talks will cover the past and present cultures of the region, geology, flora and fauna, dendrochronology, ceramic and lithic analysis, and much more.

Accommodations & Transportation: Students will stay in wood-frame cottages (no electricity) near bathroom facilities having electricity and showers for men and women. All housing is near the dining hall, which has electricity, with two bathrooms and a kitchen. There is also a small museum on site. The project lab for artifact cleaning and analysis is attached to the dining hall. Breakfast and dinner will be served in the dining hall and lunch will be eaten in the field. Students will be transported in University of Arizona vehicles to Rock Art Ranch from Tucson at the beginning and end of the fieldschool.

Course Instructor:

E. Charles Adams is a Professor in the School of Anthropology and Curator of Archaeology in the Arizona State Museum, both at the University of Arizona. Research interests include Protohistoric and historic Pueblo archaeology, Hopi ethnography, religion and ritual in the archaeological record, settlement patterns and land use. Dr. Adams will direct at a ca. 1250 CE pueblo on the ranch and is overall principal investigator for the project.

Participating Faculty:

Richard C. Lange: Research Specialist Principal, Arizona State Museum, University of Arizona. Research interests include long-term survey and excavation in the area through the ASM Homol’ovi Research Program, cliff dwellings in the Sierra Ancha of central Arizona, settlement patterns and land use, ceramic and lithic analysis, and field methods. Mr. Lange will direct survey of the ranch.

Course Credits: Registration is by permission of the instructor obtained after submitting an application form (click here). Applications must be submitted by March 18, 2016 for acceptance. Students will be notified of acceptance by March 21 in time for priority registration.

Registration is required for one 3-credit course on labwork and one 4-credit course on fieldwork. The courses are Anth 455a and 455b, section 1 (undergraduate credit) or Anth 555a and 555b, section 1 (graduate credit). Each student will do a research project in addition to fieldwork to earn a grade. Grades will be based on the student’s participation in all field activities and a project done in consultation with the instructor to be completed by the end of the session.

Tuition and Fees: Field school registration is subject to normal University of Arizona tuition and fees for summer school, which are the same for in-state and out-of-state students. In 2015 these fees were $380/credit hour for undergrads and $420/credit hour for graduate students. A special course fee of $1200.00 for 7 credit hours covers field school costs and is due at registration.

List of Photos
1. Basketmaker II (1000 BCE to 500 CE) anthropomorphic petroglyphs from Chevelon Canyon, RAR.
2. Rock Art Ranch landscape—Chimney Canyon with numerous pre-ceramic sites and small pueblos along its edges.
3. Students excavating pueblo dating ca. 1200 CE. Photo by Darlene Brinkerhoff.