The Coronado Historic Site is nothing if not an archaeological site. I am often asked why am I an archaeologist? That is a complicated question, but the simple answer is – respect. The Greek philosopher Socrates said, “The unexamined life is not worth living”. Archaeology gives us the chance to examine not just our own lives, but the lives of all of the people who came before us. It is through this examination that we can build understanding, and it is through understanding that we build respect for all of these other cultures. In the southwest we have a unique opportunity to foster understanding and respect, because the cultures we study are not extinct like ancient Egypt or Mesopotamia. The descendants are still here and are still part of an ongoing, living culture.
Recently Dr. Eric Blinman of the Office of Archaeological Studies (OAS) in Santa Fe, visited the site and presented a lecture demonstration in ceramic techniques of the Ancestral Puebloans. Anyone who has hiked through an archaeological site knows it’s very satisfying coming upon colorful sherds of ancient pottery, picking one up and saying “oh, that’s 500 years old”, but understanding the technology that went into making that sherd 500 years ago, adds so much more.
One aspect of ancient pottery making which Dr. Blinman made clear was, how variable and adaptable Puebloan technology was. Clays from different areas have different properties. They need to be mixed with different tempers and they need to be fired in different ways. Just because the firing technique of a pot from one area works well, and makes a strong usable pot, does not mean that the same technique will work with clay from a different area. Dr. Blinman also showed examples of the rich variety of pottery that was produced in the southwest and continues to be produced today.
Different pottery types from the southwest.
Dr. Blinman’s talk gave people an added appreciation for the creativity of Puebloan ceramic technology and a new respect for the people who continue to use this technology. A native friend of mine often says, “You can’t know where you’re going unless you know where you’re coming from”. I think that statement encapsulates what is important about archaeology and why the Coronado Historic Site is such an important asset to our state. The more we know about each other, the more respect we can have for each other and the different cultures we come from.
Eric Blinman demonstrates Puebloan pottery making techniques.
The Archaeological Relic!