Nov 3

Up in Smoke: A History of Tobacco in Tucson

Desert Archaeology paleoethnobotanist Dr. Michael Diehl joins up with historical archaeologist Homer Thiel to discuss Nicotiana sp. and its use through time in southern Arizona. In January 1964, Smoking and Health: Report of the Advisory Committee to the Surgeon General of the United States shocked American citizens by documenting the…

Oct 13

Tiny Artifacts, Big Questions: More from the World of Disk Beads

Ground stone expert Jenny Adams has more to share about the analysis of disk beads. My previous blog about distinguishing stone from fired-clay disk beads using low-power magnification techniques was just a teaser. There is much more to learn about disk beads—I didn’t even mention the identification of shell disk…

Disk bead studied by Desert Archaeology Oct 6

Archaeological Conundrum: The Tiny Disk Bead

Desert Archaeology's ground stone expert, Jenny Adams, explores a different sort of artifact this week--one that poses vexing problems, raises interesting questions, and may or may not even be made of stone. How can something be whole and part of a whole at the same time? The tiny disk bead…

Desert Archaeology illustration by Robert Ciaccio Sep 15

Hohokam Ceramic Studies: Past, Present, Future

This week's blog is written by James Heidke, Desert Archaeology’s senior ceramic analyst. Archaeologists have been studying Hohokam pottery for about 100 years. One might think that we would know everything there is to know about the subject by now, but new discoveries are being made in both museum collections…

Aug 4

Axe Head Road Trip: What I Did on my Summer Vacation

Desert Archaeology ground stone expert Jenny Adams returns to the blog with a story of a summer road trip that showed her not only the half of the country east of the Mississippi, but several intriguing ancient axe heads as well. This summer, during a tour of states east of…

Hohokam flake tool excavated by Desert Archaeology Jun 16

Hohokam Flake Tools and the Eye of the Beholder

R. J. Sliva, Desert’s senior flaked stone analyst, has thoughts about an often-maligned set of stone artifacts. Think about the last time you used a metal tool. Maybe you sliced up a peach to make your yogurt palatable or fired up a Dremel to carve some stone beads for your…

Jun 2

Native American Pottery in Historic Period Tucson

Desert Archaeology’s ceramic analyst Jim Heidke writes this week’s blog. In 1958, four graduate students (Bernard Fontana, William Robinson, Charles Cormack, and Ernest Leavitt, Jr.) took a seminar from Dr. Emil Haury at the University of Arizona. They chose to study historic period Native American pottery, specifically, Papago ceramics. At…

Ceramic petrography slide at Desert Archaeology Apr 7

Petrography and Archaeology: Microscopic Fun with Pottery

Dr. Mary Ownby discusses ceramic petrography. As the resident petrographer for Desert Archaeology, Inc., I am occasionally invited to give guest lectures at field schools, classrooms, and other public venues. I delight in these experiences, but it also reminds me that what I do is largely unknown outside my little world.…

Desert Archaeology flotation sample analysis Mar 31

What’s in that Bag of Dirt? Flotation Samples and Archaeology

Michael Diehl, Desert Archaeology’s resident paleoethnobotanist, brings us the first installment of an occasional series about the world of flotation samples. Buy a five-pound bag of flour. Dump out the flour. Grab a spade, head out into your yard, and shovel in enough dirt to fill the bag. Fill your…