Tag Archives: Road Scholar

Artifact preparation and curation in Cortez, Colorado

From March 11-17, 2018, Dick and I traveled to Cortez, Colorado, for a week of Ancestral Puebloan artifact preparation and curation as part of a Road Scholar service learning activity. This is our fourth trip to the region to participate in similar activities, so you know we love it here!

After we landed in Durango, CO, we drove to Mesa Verde National Park and took a short hike on the Knife Edge trail. A sudden rain/snow shower sent us scurrying for cover. (photo by Dick)

People have been collecting artifacts at Kelly Place, a bed and breakfast in McElmo Canyon, for many years, but most of them had not been properly catalogued or preserved. The purpose of the trip was to train inexperienced but dedicated “amateur archaeologists” to record essential information for the cataloging process and repackage the artifacts so they could be safely housed on site.

We recommend both Kelly Place as a place for anyone to stay in Southwest Colorado, and other Road Scholar programs in the area under the leadership of Diane McBride and her husband, Bob.

Restored kiva and storage building at Kelly Place
Restored kiva and storage building at Kelly Place Bed and Breakfast, near Cortez, CO
This was our archaeology work set-up at Kelly Place. We happened to be doing lithics (“rocks” for you non-archaeologists! ha ha) at the time, but we also did sherds. The diagram  on the top right helped us key out the objects. The label at the bottom center reads “Dak Cher,” our abbreviation for “Dakota Chert,” a common rock in the area. We recorded information about the objects and repackaged them.

We spent several days working with the artifacts, and we also did a little hiking and touring in the area. For example, we looked at historic sites at Mesa Verde National Park, and we visited the Edge of the Cedars Museum in Blanding, Utah, and the Anasazi Heritage Center in Dolores, Colorado.

A Clovis point in the museum in Blanding, UT. I love the colors!
A beaver-tail rattle in the museum in Blanding, UT

The weather here has been very dry all winter, as it has also been in California. It snowed a bit while we were at Mesa Verde, but in general it was chilly but sunny. The early bulbs were starting to bloom in the Kelly Place garden. Our cat-buddy, Cookie Dough, was as friendly as ever, and we even saw Clyde, one of her elusive brothers.

Our Kelly Place cat-buddy, Cookie Dough (photo by Dick)


Sleeping Ute mountain, from Kelly Place