Thursday December 2, 1999

MEXICO In Douglas yesterday, U.S. Customs officials turned over to Mexican authorities two metates, stone tools used to grind corn and grain. The centuries-old artifacts were seized by US Customs agents last spring. Customs inspectors find artifacts occasionally, and send them to a agency such as the National Park Service for evaluation.

ARIZONA Dr. Hiram W. Fennerís new steam-driven buggy rolled into town on Dec. 29, 1899. The Locomobile cost $600. Shipping cost another $200. Check out an exact, working replica, on view through Jan. 28 at the Arizona Historical Society. It's history is short, but before the town's memories disappear, the Prescott Valley Historical Society has created a collection for the future. Perry Mesa contains at least 450 prehistoric sites within at least seven major settlements that consist of large stone pueblos dating between A.D. 1250 and 1450.

COLORADO A new institute housed at Fort Lewis College will make the school a center of economic and environmental information and research in the West, an institute organizer says.

NEW MEXICO Shalako, the Zuni religious ceremony which usually takes place 49 days after the 10th full moon, has been postponed this year. It will take place Dec. 14 and 15 and once again, the Zuni government is not encouraging outsiders to attend... As dusk settles on the chosen day, the Sha'lak'o kachinas, embodiments of Zuni spirits, come down from sacred places in the mountains to celebrate the connections between modern Zunis and their ancestors. Towering 10 feet tall with brightly painted heads and beaks, they make their way to the seven special houses. Zunis bring gifts of food to the houses and make their way to the altar that has been placed in each house. There they make offerings of cornmeal and say prayers for good things in the coming year. The prayers and feasts last all night. The Sha'lak'os and other kachinas leave at dawn. The Tularosa Basin Historical Society is a cornucopia of local history.

TEXAS Wends/Sorbs in Germany [ These peoples emmigrated to TX hill country in the 1840s ]

TOOLS AND TECHNOLOGY "Radiocarbon results showed that the tree died between 2200 B.C. and 2000 B.C., but we wanted an exact date," Alex Bayliss said. "I decided to combine results from the dendochronology with the radiocarbon dating using Bayesian mathematics, which is ideal for combining different sets of information." As a result, researchers excluded all possible dates except one: sometime between April and June in the year 2050 B.C.

TIME'S ARROW Chronology of Southwestern Archaeology. Hopi traditional time is not linear, yet many Hopi obviously use the Christian-based calendar like everyone else in this country. The new Millennium starts on 1 January 2001. But many people wish to celebrate during the year 2000. Monks who established the system of Anno Domini did not include a year 0. However, the historical date of Christ's birth is put by most scholars at 4 BC, which means the real Millennium probably fell in 1996. The brass "prime meridian" line at Greenwich is actually 100 metres away from zero longitude as measured by global satellites. It could be argued - and no doubt someone will - that the Third Millennium is to be celebrated at Greenwich on the wrong meridian at the wrong time and in the wrong year.

CYBERIA The Palaeolithic cave at Lascaux, France, a treasure-trove of early human cave art, was discovered by four teenagers in 1940. Considered one of the greatest archaeological finds of the 20th century, its images from cave walls have been reproduced by France's Ministry of Culture and Communication on the Web. The Virtual Visit feature presents images from all of Lascaux's seven galleries, from the Great Hall of the Bulls, to The Shaft of the Dead Man. Also included are dating methods, the use of Themes and Perspective in cave iconography, how the artists lit their work, and how dim, faded figures are made clearer for identification.