My cell phone vibrated under the pillow of my cot. I woke up groggy and gazed at the time; it was 5:30 in the morning, exactly when I planned on waking up. I stood up and shuffled on my flip flops, then walked quietly out of my Hogan so as not to wake up my fellow students.
As I walked out the door and walked down to the lodge’s front porch, I saw the reason for my early wake-up call, a beautiful Colorado sunrise. This summer I went with my high school Anthropology class to Crow Canyon Archeological Center in Cortez, Colorado, to learn about anthropology and have a good time. My anthropology teacher takes twenty of her students every year, and this year was her 20th year.We woke up early the day before the trip and took a flight with Pioneer Airlines to New Mexico, and then drove to Colorado and Crow Canyon in three big white rental busses.
The anticipation showed on each of our faces the whole way, each one of us chosen out of a large number of applicants to our teacher’s summer trip. There was one unifying characteristic that we all shared; we were, as my teacher called us, ‘Anthro Geeks.’ When we got there we were in for a week of lectures, as well as activities. On one of our first activities we learned how the ancient pueblo people hunted using a tool called an atl atl, we also got to try throwing spears with the atl atl.
A large fake deer was placed a distance away from us and we took turns using the ancient tool to project a spear. The purpose of the atl atl is to give the arm more extension and provide an extra joint. Despite the increase in distance the atl atl’s provided, we continued to be unable to hit the deer.We also analyzed pottery sherds (the word sherd is used to describe clay pottery, the word shard wouldn’t be used unless there were glass fragments) and cleaned some fragments as well.
The pottery found is usually in pieces, so we had to be able to try to use a small piece of the pot to identify the overall shape and design of it. We had to learn to identify the era the containers were from depending on the paint used to decorate it or the technique used to form it.Another fun part of the trip was when we took a trip to the beautiful Mesa Verde National Park, and toured some fully excavated pueblo ruins. One of the ruins was a cliff dwelling, meaning we had to climb a large ladder to get to it.
I am terrified of heights. However my desire to see the cliff dwellings up close won out and I went up with the rest of the group. However when we reached the other side of the area and it was time to leave we had to climb two ladders we were told.
I was fine with this; I assumed it would be less intimidating. It wasn’t; between the two smaller ladders was a large area where small steps were carved into the side of the cliff and the only separation between them and gravity was a rusty chain held up by rusty poles. Getting out was worse than getting in; my advice to anyone going to Mesa Verde is to ask questions about the way out as well as the way in.As thrilling as being forced to overcome my fear was; the most exiting part of the trip however had to have been conducting an excavation ourselves.
We dug in middens (garbage areas), kivas (ceremonial and living space), as well as room blocks where people lived. My digging was done in a kiva, which is dug in 2m by 2m holes. I had to use a trowel and brush to dig, and it was slow work.
It was all worth it when I found my first artifact, a piece of pottery. My face lit up and I asked my supervisor to take a picture of me holding it up and striking an animated pose.The whole tip was an experience I’ll never forget. I have many stories I can tell people of the trip, and they always show interest. When they do I realize I received a gift by being able to go on the trip. I’ve gone on an archeological dig, and how many people can boast that?
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