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Students Scour Petroglyph National Monument for Artifacts

August 26, 2015 -- Several CNM anthropology students spent five days over the term break participating in an archaeological survey at the Petroglyph National Monument.
Students Scour Petroglyph National Monument for Artifacts

Aug 26, 2015

For the second year in a row, CNM Anthropology instructor Susan Ruth took some of her students to survey a portion of the canyon.

“(Petroglyph National Monument) is putting in some new trails and wants to make sure they are not disturbing an archaeological site,” Ruth said. “Petroglyph doesn’t have a large archeology staff and they need us to help record and document artifact finds using a GPS system.”

Mostly, the students found fire-cracked rocks that had been put inside of cooking baskets and flakes of stone, the byproducts of making stone tools. One student, Rick Patrick, discovered a 10,000 year-old spearhead, called a Midland Point, that dates back to the end of the last ice age when the Native people followed herds of bison and other large mammals throughout the west.

In most cases, the students use a GPS system to document the locations of the artifacts, take photographs of them and make drawings of them. They generally leave them where they were found. The GPS coordinates have been added to the monument’s database and mapping system. Because of the age of the Midland Point, it was removed and will be stored in special conditions.

“Working in the field has given the students the opportunity to get professional archeological experience, which they seemed to enjoy,” Ruth said.