Dozens of rock art sites in southern New Mexico, recently documented for the first time, are revealing unexpected botanical clues that archaeologists say may help unlock the meaning of the ancient abstract paintings.
Over a swath of the Chihuahuan Desert stretching from Carlsbad to Las Cruces, at least 24 rock art panels have been found bearing the same distinctive pictographs: repeated series of triangles painted in combinations of red, yellow, and black.
And at each of these sites, archaeologists have noticed similarities not just on the rock, but in the ground.
Hallucinogenic plants were found growing beneath the triangle designs, including a particularly potent species of wild tobacco and the potentially deadly psychedelic known as datura. Read more.
BLOOMFIELD, N.M. (AP) — Workers widening a northwestern New Mexico highway bordering an archaeological site found artifacts that officials said might be from the ancient Puebloan culture.
The pottery pieces and fragments of charcoal, burned corn fibers and other material were found last week when a laborer noticed something red and black glinting in the sun, the Daily Times reported Sunday.
The Mountain States Constructors Inc. crew was widening U.S. Highway 64 along the Salmon Ruins in Bloomfield when workers made the find.
Hector Beyale reported the discovery to a supervisor who alerted Salmon Ruins Executive Director Larry Baker. Read more.
Using thermal imagery, researchers can now see what lies beneath the dirt-covered desert landscape. A team of researchers from the University of North Florida and the University of Arkansas has successfully used drones to unearth a 1,000-year-old village in northwestern New Mexico, revealing never-seen-before structures, unique insight into who lived there and what the area was like.
Dr. John Kantner, a UNF associate professor of anthropology and an assistant vice president of research, and Dr. Jesse Casana, an archaeologist at the University of Arkansas, teamed up last summer to test the drones in a remote area of northwestern New Mexico. The research results were published in the May issue of the Journal of Archaeological Science. Read more.
About a millennium ago, the ancestral Pueblo Indians in the Chaco Canyon in northwestern New Mexico obtained their precious turquoise using a large trade network spanning several states, new research reveals.
In the new study, researchers traced Chaco Canyon turquoise artifacts back to resource areas in Colorado, Nevada and southeastern California. The results definitively show, for the first time, that the ancestral Puebloans — best known for their multistoried adobe houses — in the San Juan Basin area of New Mexico did not get all of their turquoise from a nearby mining site, as was previously believed. Read more.
For more than 40 years, archaeologists have been coaxing what they could from the traces of an ancient Puebloan settlement in New Mexico they call Blue J.
Buried under a thousand years’ worth of eroded stone and wind-blown sand, Blue J has intrigued experts with what little it has revealed: the outlines of nearly 60 households, situated around a series of open plazas, the masonry and building styles dating their construction to the 11th century.
Almost entirely unexcavated, the settlement sits just 70 kilometers south of Chaco Canyon — the nexus of Ancestral Pueblo culture — and was built during the heyday of Chaco’s widest influence. Read more.
Some of the youngest, most inquisitive New Mexico minds found what is being called one of the most significant, archaeological discoveries in a while, according to KOAT-TV.
There are 13 million acres of New Mexico Bureau of Land Management land, most of which has been scoured by scientists. But a group of Sandia Prep seventh graders found something that the trained experts didn’t. On a field trip, the students discovered a 14-by-14 inch pot.
“It was like a gray pot, with zig-zag stripes and dash patterns all the way going around it,” seventh-grader Isabel Jerome told the station. “Yeah, it was a really incredible find.”
Officials aren’t revealing the artifact until they consult nearby pueblos.
“This is very significant. We hope they appreciate that this could be a once in a life time discovery,” said Donna Hummel with the BLM.
Officials think the pot could be 900 years old.
“That’s crazy. I think we were probably some of the first people to see so that’s really cool,” seventh-grader Cole Schoepke said. (source)
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) - An ancient Peruvian artifact in the form of a monkey’s head given to the Palace of the Governors in Santa Fe in 1995 is heading back home.
The small gold pendant measuring 1 3/4 inches high by 2 1/4 inches wide will be “repatriated” Thursday during a ceremony at Peru’s embassy in Washington.
The small bead has been the subject of controversy amid allegations that it was looted from an archaeological site in Peru.
The Albuquerque Journal (http://bit.ly/v3zwcj ) reports the FBI at one point seized the monkey’s head and other items, but eventually the artifacts were returned to the Santa Fe museum.
The board of regents of the museum of New Mexico, the organization that oversees all of the state museums in Santa Fe, voted recently to return the bead to Peru. (source)
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - The National Park Service says two University of New Mexico students allegedly inscribed their monikers “Super Duper Dana” and “Gabriel” within a few feet of a sign that reads, “It is unlawful to mark or deface El Morro Rock.”
The carvings may lead to possible criminal penalties for the students and a repair tab of nearly $30,000.
The Albuquerque Journal reports the pair appeared in U.S. District Court last week to face charges of defacing an archaeological resource on public lands during a mid-October trip to the site in western New Mexico.
They were released on their own recognizance after being required to surrender their passports and visas.
National Park Service workers discovered the new inscriptions Oct. 13 on the sandstone cliffs.
The monument is known for its 2,000 or so signatures, some dating back 700 to 1,000 years ago. (source)