#129 33rd GBAC, Day 2 (Part 1 of 2)

(In an effort to keep these posts from being filed in the tl:dr category I’ve split this one into two parts. Part 2 will be posted tomorrow.)

Friday at the GBAC has the most papers presented as compared to the first and third days. As a result I was incredibly busy and was bouncing around different rooms all day long.

(c) 2012 Chris Webster - From Grimes Point Petroglyphs, East of Fallon, NevadaI started the day with a paper about petroglyphs and their preservation on BLM lands. Earl, a BLM archaeologist posited the question of how to reposition recovered stolen rock art so it doesn’t happen again. They have some short term solutions for rock art preservation that basically includes getting as much of it recorded as they can. Good, thorough recording has a chance of lasting much longer than the actual rock art, unfortunately. Long term solutions include education (which likely won’t work) and basically turning the sites into parks. Add trails, signs, and educational material and people are less likely to damage it. Interesting. That idea goes along with Saltzgiver saying that the use of volunteers and interpretive signs can help engage the public on a dig in an urban setting. 

A former employer of mine, Ed Stoner of WCRM, presented on the cornucopia of data that is the Fire Creek Archaeological District southeast of Battle Mountain, Nevada. I worked on this project two years ago in the field and in the lab. The focus of this paper (they’ve presented elsewhere on other topics related to the site) was on the presence of Western Stemmed points in buried soils. We typically don’t do any subsurface testing during the inventory phase of work out here in the Great Basin. Stoner is proving that in some depositional contexts, subsurface testing could yield valuable data. The points Stoner recovered from Fire Creek were on the edges of a paleo lake. Some of the points were recovered from 10-30 cm below the ground surface (that’s not from the paper but from my own memory of the excavation).

Fire Creek block excavation.Next, I shifted gears and attended a few papers on CRM archaeology and it’s future. Yoder presented a paper about the 50 year rule for recording historic sites. He suggested ditching the 50 year rule in favor of ARPA’s 100 year rule. He noted, however, that he’s just shifting the goal posts by adding 50 years and isn’t really solving the problem. Should we record, in detail, can scatters, regardless of how old they are? My idea is to record dubious historic artifact concentrations as isolates. That way you can know where they exist and what they are without spending hours recording the minute details. Knowing where they are on the landscape is beneficial for larger studies of land use.  Rood wondered whether the end of CRM was near and what we can do to fix it. Recording can scatters has not taught us much and some of his clients have mentioned that they have lawyers trying to shut down NHPA so they don’t have to worry about little sites like this. Scary times, indeed.

After shifting gears again I heard more great papers about prehistoric patterns and lifeways. Beck said that we can expect to see more lithic reduction close to sources and less reduction further away. Seems intuitive but it’s nice to have evidence to back up that intuition. Betting presented on the Marginal Value Theorem say that if patch count goes up and patch residence time goes down it’s likely a result of population change. Conversely, if patch count goes up and residence time also goes up then it’s likely a result of environmental change.

I'll post the second half right after this so you can read it in discrete parcels.

Thanks for reading and I'll see you in the field.