News Column

Clay Festival Panel to Feature Four Archaeologists

July 28, 2014



SILVER CITY, N.M., July 28 -- Western New Mexico University issued the following news release:

This year's Silver City Clay Festival's Clay Archaeology Panel, Clay is Life, will once again be hosted by Western New Mexico University Museum on the WNMU campus at the Besse-Forward Global Resource Center Auditorium on Saturday, August 2 from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.

The 2014 Archaeology Clay Panelis designed to be a free-flowing panel discussion and audience Q&A with prominent archaeologists conducting research in the American Southwest on the many forms of clay found in archaeological sites throughout the prehistoric Southwest. The panel moderator will encourage audience members to ask questions relating to panelist's research, current and past, and special topics. Special topics include the visibility of children in prehistory in the ceramic record; the analyses of pollen and other residues recovered from ceramics and the insights these analyses have into prehistoric cultural social networking, dynamics, and interaction when combined with other information and analyses; and comparison/contrasts between the different clay-based artifacts and structures created by the prehistoric cultures of the American Southwest.

This year's panelists include four archaeologists conducting research in various areas of the American Southwest. Panelist Dr. Patricia Crown, a Distinguished Professor of Anthropology at the University of New Mexico, recently directed the analysis of artifacts from the trash mounds at Pueblo Bonito, Chaco Canyon, which resulted in the identification of the first Prehispanic cacao (chocolate) north of the Mexican border in ceramics from Chaco Canyon. In addition to serving as a panelist, Crown will present a lecture on her recent research in Chaco Canyon, Chocolate Use & Exchange in the Prehispanic American Southwest, on Saturday, August 2, at 8:00 a.m. at the Seedboat Center for the Arts in downtown Silver City, and will be the Neo-Mimbreno 2014 Exhibition juror.

Panelist Jakob Sedig, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Colorado, Boulder, conducted three seasons of dissertation fieldwork at Woodrow Ruin, a large site on the upper Gila River that was occupied from at least AD 600-1130. The spectacular clay artifact assemblage from Woodrow Ruin has not only provided data for Sedig's dissertation, but is also providing new insights on how the ancient Mimbres used clay in their daily lives.

Panel member Dr. Tammy Stone, a Professor of Anthropology and former Associate Dean at the University of Colorado, Denver, has conducted archaeological research in the Western United States for the last 30 years. For much at that time she has concentrated her research in the highlands of central New Mexico and Arizona with a special emphasis on understanding the organization of large, late period communities in the Reserve and Point of Pines regions. She has written four books and over 20 articles exploring issues of identity, alliance formation, and social/political organization through an examination of the ceramics and architecture.

Returning panelist Dr. Stephanie Whittlesey is a newly retired archaeologist with more than 40 years of experience in academic archaeology and cultural resource management. Throughout her career, she has focused on Native American ceramics from archaeological and artistic perspectives, studying their mundane functions as household goods, how the introduction of ceramic containers influenced the initial adoption of cultigens, and ceramic design as reflections of ideological and religious systems.

The panel moderator is Dr. Cynthia Ann Bettison, WNMU Museum Director since 1991. She has been active in archaeological research for over 30 years. One of her first archaeological digs was the 1981 NAN Ranch Archaeological Field Project. During her tenure at WNMU Museum she has curated over 24 different exhibitions, acquired a number of collections, including the recent acquisition of the NAN Ranch Collection, conducted research at the Lake Roberts Vista Site, and published articles in several edited volumes, and presented hundreds of professional papers, lectures, and tours to a wide range of national and international audiences.

The Silver City Clay Festival Clay is Life archaeology panel was made possible through the contributions of the New Mexico Humanities Council, Town of Silver City, Western New Mexico University Museum, and Western New Mexico University. Western New Mexico University Museum's hours of operation are Monday through Friday 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. It is closed University holidays. For more information about WNMU Museum's upcoming Clay Festival events, exhibitions, and Clay is Life panelists, please visit

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