Pots and bowl found at 17th-century archaeology sites in Northern New Mexico from Museum of Indian Arts and Culture collections. Photo by Blair Clark, New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs.
SANTA FE ― A celebration of World Archaeology Day is Saturday, Oct. 15 at the Center for New Mexico Archaeology, 7 Old Cochiti Road in Santa Fe.
Join the staff of The Museum of Indian Arts and Culture/Laboratory of Anthropology and the Office of Archaeological Studies 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. for the annual celebration. This event celebrates 12,000 years of cultural heritage of the State of New Mexico.
Guests may tour the working archaeological laboratories of the Office of Archaeological Studies, meet with professional archaeologists, and see demonstrations of pottery firing and coiled basketry making. Take a try at throwing an atlatl – an ancient hunting spear – and shooting a bow and arrow while you learn about archaeology and the history of the people of New Mexico. Guests may also tour New Mexico’s archaeological repository, which is one of the largest collections research facilities in the American Southwest. Ceramic vessels, stone tools, basketry and other objects will be on display for the public to view, along with materials that explain how people made and used these items in the past.
The theme of this year’s celebration is maize (corn), with the opening of the exhibit “The Miracle of Maize: A Catalyst for Change in the American Southwest” in the Center’s lobby, and an accompanying film, “She Brings Life: Maize, a Sacred Sustenance.” Maize, more than any other food, has great cultural significance in the American Southwest — it led thousands of Native Americans to congregate in large villages in the past, providing a stable crop that led to an overall increase in population, and has become a source of cultural identity and veneration for many Native Americans.
Today it is still at the heart of many Native diets. Beyond that, it has spread to all continents, dominating cuisine in many parts of the world. Maize could play a significant role in sustaining world populations in the future, all stemming from the ingenuity of Native Americans’ ancestors, who recognized the potential of maize’s small, grass-like ancestor, thousands of years ago.
The exhibit discusses the early development of maize, illustrating farming techniques Native Americans developed to deal with the Southwest’s arid climate, as well as other technologies developed over thousands of years. Examples of items that illustrate the integration of maize into objects of daily life, such as pottery that exhibits motifs of the maize plant, are also included. Native people painted images of maize on vessels for thousands of years, as well as images of water and the flute player, all connected to rain, fertility and a successful harvest.
Look for maize-related activities, including making cornhusk dolls and painting images of corn on pendants. Enjoy maize treats and share your favorite recipes.The event is free and is family-friendly with hands-on activities for all ages. The Center for New Mexico Archaeology is located at 7 Old Cochiti Road off Caja del Rio Road and the 599 Bypass in Santa Fe. It is just south of the Santa Fe Animal Shelter and the Santa Fe Municipal Sports Recreation Complex. (Some GPS systems.