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November 21, 2019 @ 8:00 am – November 24, 2019 @ 6:00 pm
Meet at SAR Campus
660 Garcia St
Santa Fe, NM 87505
Amy Schiffer

Mimbres Lives and Landscapes

Mimbres Landscape

Mimbres Landscape. Courtesy of SAR.

November 21 – 24, 2019

Cost per person:
Double Occupancy: $1,965 (Includes a $100 non-refundable tax-deductible donation to SAR)
Single Occupancy: $2,115 (Includes a $100 non-refundable tax-deductible donation to SAR)

Field trip limited to 15 participants.

Due to the limited capacity of the trip, please send your registration request directly to Amy Schiffer, Membership Coordinator at schiffer@sarsf.org or call 505-954-7245. Priority is given to Galisteo members and up.

Mimbres cultures in southern New Mexico are among the most intriguing and controversial of the many ancient Puebloan peoples in the Southwest United States. Mimbres potters produced shallow black and white bowls of unique artistry, which are displayed by art museums around the world. These bowls are so visually arresting that, over the years, looters have destroyed the vast majority of ancient Mimbres sites in search of their pottery.

Due to a recent controversy over the display of Mimbres pots involving the Chicago Art Institute, Native American individuals—including those from descendent communities, other art museums, and archeologists, the exhibit was canceled. In fact, since many existing Mimbres ceramics are associated with funerary sites, the Indian Arts Research Center does not display the vast majority of its Mimbres collection out of respect for descendent communities.  A handful of non-funerary Mimbres pottery, however, is available for viewing.

Mimbres Petroglyph

Mimbres Petroglyph. Courtesy of SAR.

These complex issues will be discussed with our study leader, Steve Lekson, and Fumi Arakawa, the Director of the University Museum and an Associate Professor of Anthropology at New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, who recently mounted a successful collaborative Mimbres exhibit. We will also visit some of the surviving Mimbres sites as well as museums where many of the pots now live.

In researching Mimbres culture, what has been lost in most cases is the context of the pots: what was their purpose? Were these burial offerings or did they serve multiple purposes? So, what do we know?

We know that Classic-period Mimbres people lived along the Mimbres and nearby upper Gila Rivers between AD 1000 and 1150. Their communities were among the largest of their times and arguably the earliest “Pueblo”-style towns. Their history was intertwined with Hohokam, Chaco, and Casas Grandes cultures. The majority of their ceramics employ geometric motifs suggestive of mountains and weather phenomena such as lightning, clouds, and rainfall. While most designs are symmetrical patterns that rotate around an open, central space in the bottom of the bowl, the best-known motifs represent animals such as rabbits, deer, humans, bears, and fantastical creatures. There are other examples of creatures in the Pueblo world, but nothing like the Mimbres. You will see some of the largest collections in public institutions, which include some of the best examples.

Our accommodations and meals for the first two days will be provided by the famous, historic Bear Mountain Lodge, a classic 1920s, New Mexico-style lodge located on 178 acres just three miles northwest of Silver City. The entire lodge has been reserved for SAR participants, so we will have full use of the facilities including the library, and the lodge’s Great Room with its two stone fireplaces. The third night will be at the Hampton Inn in Deming.

Through this trip, participants will have the opportunity to explore the complex and sometimes difficult issues around the public display of Mimbres pottery.

Bear Mountain Lodge

Bear Mountain Lodge

Study Leader:

Steve Lekson is a retired professor of anthropology and curator at the Museum of Natural History, University of Colorado, Boulder. He has directed more than forty archaeological projects throughout the Southwest, mainly in the Mimbres and Four Corners areas. His principal interests are human geography, built environments, government, and migrations. He is the author of A History of the Ancient Southwest, an SAR Press publication.

Activity Level: Moderate, involves getting on and off the bus, standing, and a long walks on uneven grounds.

Includes: Transportation in air-conditioned mini coach; water and snacks; room and board for 3 nights; guides, entry fees, and gratuities.

NOTEDue to the limited capacity of the trip, please send your registration request directly to Amy Schiffer, Membership Coordinator at schiffer@sarsf.org or call 505-954-7245. Priority is given to Galisteo members and up.

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