The major objective of this year’s field school is to prepare students for a career in Cultural Resource Management (CRM) while conducting a small-scale CRM inventory and evaluation project. The field school will take place on the Coconino National Forest on the outskirts of Flagstaff, Arizona, and will be taught by professional archaeologists from Statistical Research, Inc., one of the foremost CRM firms in the world, and the Coconino National Forest.
The area has been home to people for many millennia and has a rich archaeological record. The region is best known, however, as the homeland of the Northern Sinagua. The Sinagua first appeared at about CE 650 as small family groups living in pit house communities near the best agricultural soils. Many early researchers suggested that the apparent population explosion that occurred in the eleventh century resulted from the eruption of the nearby Sunset Crater in the late eleventh century. The cinder fall from these eruptions was believed to have greatly increased the extent of arable land by fertilizing the soils and acting as a mulch to retard moisture evaporation. News of this new farmland purportedly spread throughout the Southwest leading to a prehistoric land rush into the area.
New interpretations, however, suggest that the influence of Sunset Crater and associated migrations have been overly exaggerated. Rather, environmental change, increasing participation in pan-Southwestern exchange systems, population aggregation, and new agricultural technologies were the major factors in the region’s cultural development.
This season we will train students in basic CRM survey, mapping, excavation, and laboratory methods through an intensive pedestrian survey of Forest lands. Our research goals are to identify and evaluate archaeological resources that can contribute important information regarding past land use and settlement patterns in this area. In addition, we aim to assist the Forest in the management of their archaeological resources.