Does it take a hierarchy of managers overseeing a working class to mass-produce a product? One answer to that question may lie in the prehistoric ceramic pottery industry of an ancient, egalitarian people who lived in what today encompasses greater metropolitan Phoenix, Arizona. The vessels were produced in mass quantities around 1000 A.D. by a people called the Hohokam, whose descendants are today's O'odham tribe of the Gila River Indian Community.
Archaeologists Sunday Eiselt, from Southern Methodist University, and J. Andrew Darling, from the Cultural Resource Management Program of the Gila River Indian Community in Arizona, have launched a unique research partnership to study the puzzling mechanics behind the pottery production.
SMU archaeologist Sunday Eiselt leads the SMU-in-Taos Childhood Archaeology Project, a systematic and scientific examination of children's lives through a community archaeological excavation project in the historic and picturesque plaza of Ranchos de Taos in northern New Mexico.
The research will provide new perspectives on the dynamics of Spanish and American occupation of New Mexico, says Eiselt, an SMU anthropology professor in SMU's Dedman College.
Old restored homes — gentrified with galleries, shops and restaurants — ring the historic and picturesque plaza of Ranchos de Taos in northern New Mexico.
The plaza, once a hub of village life in Ranchos de Taos, these days is notably absent of children. Their families have been driven to the outskirts of the Catholic village by a booming tourism industry that has pushed up property values.
But the children left their mark, says archaeologist Sunday Eiselt, who for three years has led digging crews in some of the homes through her work at the Archaeology Field School of the SMU-in-Taos campus of Southern Methodist University. They've unearthed children's artifacts up to 100 years old, including pieces of clay toys, tea sets, doll parts, clothing, mechanical trains, jacks, marbles, child-care implements, modern plastic Legos, Barbie doll parts, action figures and jewelry.
The Archaeology Field School at SMU-in-Taos begins a unique education and research partnership this summer with students and faculty from Mercyhurst College in Erie, Pa., uniting two of the nation's leading archaeology programs on Southern Methodist University's New Mexico campus.
"This collaboration will create one of the strongest archaeology field training programs in the nation, if not the world," said Mike Adler, SMU-in-Taos executive director. "It leverages the strengths of both institutions."
The SMU-in-Taos campus is sited on an archaeological treasure trove in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains within the Carson National Forest.