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Curators of history: UNM awarded for work at Chaco

The University of New Mexico’s research at Pueblo Bonito in Chaco Canyon was recently honored with a Field Discovery Award at the Shanghai Archaeological Forum. The project is one of 10 chosen from more than 100 projects around the world.

bright spot“Their selection process seems to be very complicated, so it is truly an honor to be recognized by this group,” said Professor Patricia Crown, who was invited to Shanghai to receive the award.

The archaeological Forum is organized by the Institute of Archaeology at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. The award recognizes archeological excavations or surveys that have yielded major discoveries furthering or even altering knowledge of the human past.

Principal Investigators Crown and W.H. Wills, both professors in the UNM Department of Anthropology, have conducted field investigations at Pueblo Bonito since 2004 with close to $1 million in external funding from the National Science Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Geographic Society.

The research is ongoing work identifying buried sites and the sequence of flooding in the canyon. It has included re-excavation of trenches just south of Pueblo Bonito that identified artificial canals that controlled flooding.

They have also discovered chocolate residues in ceramics from the site demonstrating long-distance exchange with Mesoamerica, along with the re-excavation of a room in Pueblo Bonito, originally excavated in 1896, where they discovered that the room used to store ceramic vessels used in drinking chocolate was purposefully burned to the ground around 1100.

The projects always involve UNM undergraduate and graduate students, many of whom help prepare the publications, which have included a book and 10 peer-reviewed articles.

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