Museum of Indian Arts and Culture

The Museum of Indian Arts & Culture Announces Archaeology 101 Lecture Series

January 26, 2018


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Jan. 26, 2018 (Santa Fe, NM)—The Museum of Indian Arts and Culture (MIAC) announces its Archaeology 101 Lecture Series, which has been created to inform the general public about topics in archaeology and current research being done in the field. The purpose of the series is also to provide young scientists the opportunity to share their knowledge and research while learning to translate their academic research into formats that are more approachable and understandable for the general public.

Lectures will include themes from the American Southwest and include original research. MIAC will provide graduate students with resources to assist them in planning their lectures as well as include feedback from professionals and patrons. Each lecture will feature question and answer sessions that will offer young scientists critical feedback about their content and delivery. Constructive feedback from professional archaeologists who work for MIAC will also be given to the lecturers. 

“The Museum of Indian Arts & Culture is excited to be working with innovative young scientists in the field of archaeology” said C.L. Kieffer Nail, MIAC Collections Manager. “We hope that this lecture series will not only inform the public about specific topics in archaeology but also give these budding scholars an opportunity to practice disseminating their knowledge to the public.”

The lecture series line up is as follows:

February 24, 2018, Paulina Przystupa Lecture Title: The ABCs: Archaeology, Beliefs, and Childhood

This lecture will introduce the archaeology of childhood by exploring definitions of children and childhood in the past and cross-culturally, examine how we can investigate children through material culture, and discuss some recent local research into questions about the archaeology of childhood. More people in the past have been children than have been adults, so it is important to use archaeology to investigate this time in human life. Different cultural expectations, rites of passage, and the unique artifacts associated with childhood make investigating their lives insightful for understanding them individuals and how their lives reflect their cultural backgrounds.

March 31, 2018, Leon Natker Lecture Title: Sherds vs. Shards: A Beginners Guide to Ceramic Analysis.

One of the most ubiquitous artifacts found in New Mexico archaeology are pieces of broken pottery. What can these objects tell us about the people who inhabited a site in prehistoric times? How can you correctly identify these ceramics and what information do they give us? This lecture presents basic skills for identifying ceramics in the field. This will include how to determine formation technique and vessel form, how to determine temper, and how to categorize sherds by type. These techniques will lead to a discussion of seriation which can be used to determine relative dating of a site. The lecture will conclude with a discussion of correct means for collecting and cataloging ceramic artifacts for future use in the laboratory.

April 28, 2018, Amy Thompson Lecture Title: Utilizing Modern Technologies to Understand the Past: A Case Study of the Incorporation of GIS and Remote Sensing to Understand an Ancient Maya Community.

Geographic Information Sciences (GIS) and remote sensing technologies are used in modern, everyday life including in apps like Google Maps and Pokémon Go. These technologies can also be utilized in archaeological research to not only visualize and map ancient sites, but to model past community relationships and social organization. This presentation discusses both the basics of GIS and remote sensing imagery as well as how archaeologists use these technologies to understand the past. Furthermore, this presentation will emphasize the significance of these methods to archaeological inquiry through a case study at two Classic Period (AD 250-800) Maya centers, Uxbenká and Ix Kuku’il, located in the southern foothills of the Maya Mountains in modern day Belize, Central America. Through the use of GIS and remote sensing techniques, processes of urban development and sociopolitical organization have been modeled at Uxbenká ad Ix Kuku’il; these methods and results are applicable to other complex societies both in the past and today.

May 26, 2018, Cyler Conrad Lecture Title: Turkey Domestication and Husbandry in the Ancestral Pueblo World

This talk focuses on ‘what we know’ about turkey domestication and husbandry in the northern Rio Grande and how ongoing research from the Pajarito Plateau is providing new insights into the complexities of Ancestral Puebloan human-turkey interactions. Recent studies on turkey bones, eggs, genetics and stable isotopes all suggest that human interactions with this iconic bird were complex, and that our understanding of them is incomplete. Ongoing research projects from this region, including at Los Alamos National Laboratory, are helping provide insights into the use and role of turkeys through time and during periods of social and/or environmental change.

June 30, 2018, Sean Dolan Lecture Title: Obsidian in the Ancient American Southwest

Obsidian was an important material to make stone tools for hunting, warfare, and ceremony in the ancient American Southwest because it was the sharpest available material for piercing flesh before the Spanish arrived. Archaeologists love finding obsidian flakes and projectile points at sites because obsidian can be “sourced” since each obsidian flow on the landscape has a unique geochemical fingerprint that can be quantified. Using sourcing data, archaeologists can answer key questions in archaeology like social interaction, trade, and mobility. This talk is for people interested in archaeology and geology because it introduce what obsidian is, how obsidian can be sourced, where the sources are located, and why people in the past used certain sources and not others. These topics are integrated into a case study involving obsidian research in the Mimbres and Casas Grandes region of New Mexico and Chihuahua.

February 24 Paulina Przystupa – UNM Graduate Student

March 31       Leon Natker – ENMU Graduate Student

April 28         Amy Thompson – UNM Graduate Student

May 26          Cyler Conrad - LANL Archaeologist & UNM Graduate Student

June 30           Sean Dolan – LANL Archaeologist & University of Oklahoma Alumni

When: Every last Saturday of the month from February thru June at 1pm.

Where: Kathryn O’Keeffe Theater at MIAC


Cost: Free with museum admission

Contact Information: Andrew Albertson 505-471-1271


 About the Museum of Indian Arts & Culture As the 19th century closed, one of the Southwest’s major "attractions" was its vibrant Native American cultures. In response to unsystematic collecting by Eastern museums, anthropologist Edgar Lee Hewett founded the Museum of New Mexico in 1909 with a mission to collect and preserve Southwest Native American material culture. Several years later, in 1927, John D. Rockefeller founded the renowned Laboratory of Anthropology with a mission to study the Southwest’s indigenous cultures. In 1947 the two institutions merged, bringing together the most inclusive and systematically acquired collection of New Mexican and Southwestern anthropological artifacts in the country. 

Related Photos

Archaeological toy artifacts.
Young Archeologist Sean Dolan

Back to Press Release List »