Wednesday December 29, 1999

ARIZONA The Tempe Historical Museum presents "Things Change: 20th Century Technology," a hands-on exhibit that examines travel, communication and entertainment. The auction report on the Arizona land includes archaeological evaluations. The State Historic Preservation Office has determined that there could be an old grave on the west end of the parcel. State officials are leaving it up to the successful buyer to take care of the historical dig.

NEW MEXICO Some want a community cultural center or a place that could offer tours and information on the area's historic neighborhoods. Some prefer using the money to save another good building fallen on hard times. Others see the potential of doing both.

CYBERIA Feminist landmark The Hunt House is a source and symbol of women's rights. When Simon Girty was 15, he and members of his family were captured by the western Seneca. By the time he returned to Colonial society at age 23, Simon Girty knew 11 Indian dialects. New Jersey may preserve one of the last remaining original gas stations. The World Heritage Committee of UNESCO has announced that it has added 48 new cultural and natural sites to its "world heritage list." The list now consists of 630 sites in 118 countries. From Peru to Mexico, Spanish colonizers grafted cathedrals onto the foundations of razed Indian temples and superimposed Christianity on ancient beliefs. They tossed 10,000 years of accumulated culture from this land onto a garbage heap.

POLITICS Many American Indians still view archaeologists as arrogant scientists who would rather study dead humans than deal with live ones. A theme running through disputes between some scientists and some Native Americans is that each thinks the government is unfair; each believes public policy has given the other most of the power. There is truth to each claim. The United States lacks a coherent policy for managing ancient cultural and biological remains. NAGPRA changed the way museums, universities, and federal agencies approach North American archaeology. The law is an unfunded mandate, since the government apportions only a small amount of money to cover expenses at the museum and tribal levels.

PALEO-INDIAN The "Clovis First" paradigm, dominant for 70 years, is no longer satisfactory. A multidisciplinary approach to Paleoindian archaeology. As any novice archaeologist learns, an artifact without provenience has lost most of its scientific value. [ Its' the "CONTEXT" stupid! ] Human bias influences radiocarbon chronologies far more than is acknowledged. The technique is not a static method. Possible first-American sites must meet rigorous scientific requirements to unequivocally demonstrate pre-Clovis occupation of the Americas. By 1994, fewer than 25 individuals could be considered at least 8,500 years old. The sample improved recently with two virtually complete male skeletons, both from Nevada - Spirit Lake and Wizards Beach - and dated to about 9,200 years ago (10,335 cal BP). By careful study of prehistoric populations, we gain an understanding of ancient humans that would not otherwise be possible. Anthropological study of skeletons contributes an enormous and diverse array of information about human behavior, past and present.