AMDA Socorro New Mexico

From October 27 through 29, 2017, AMDA conducted its twelfth class aimed at training professional archaeologists in the best practices of systematic metal detection.  The first day of classroom training took place at the Bureau of Land Management-Socorro District Field Office.  A total of 18 individuals participated.  Three are BLM archaeologists, one U.S.F.S. archaeologist, the Deputy Tribal Historic Preservation Officer with the Mescalero Apache Tribe, two U.S.D.A archaeologists, one NPS archaeologist, three staff archaeologists with the University of New Mexico-Office of Contract Archaeology, two private consultant archaeologists, one forensics specialist (Mesa, AZ Police Dept.), and four repeat AMDA attendees.  Four AMDA instructors gave presentations regarding the history of metal detection as a research tool for archaeologists; basic survey and artifact retrieval techniques in the use of metal detectors; guidelines for planning a metal detection project; types of metal detection surveys; and several examples of metal detection surveys including Civil War battlefields and forts, historic trails, and Native American encampment sites.

Three guest speakers also gave presentations: One speaker discussed his project regarding retrieval of copper artifacts from prehistoric Mimbres Culture pueblo sites located in southwestern New Mexico; another speaker presented data regarding her metal detection surveys of Old Copper Culture prehistoric sites in the Great Lakes region; and the final guest speaker discussed his involvement with the Parker’s Revenge Project, which entails the metal detection survey of Concord Battlefield, fought April 19, 1775.

Patrick Severts represented North Georgia Detectors, and Gene Scullion represented First Texas Labs (Fisher/Teknetics).  Both Patrick and Gene assisted the instructors during the fieldwork phase of the class.  Bill Rose, a graduate of five other metal detector trainings, assisted the instructors by working with the trainees during the field portion of the class.  Bill also was the guest speaker who presented information regarding the Parker’s Revenge Project.  Each student received a USB drive that contained the course Powerpoint presentations, a list of attendees and instructors with contact information, and a file of 143 case studies including several that hold particular relevance to the Desert Southwest.

The two-day field exercise was conducted at the archeological site of Sevilleta Pueblo, located approximately 20 miles north of Socorro.  This Piro pueblo site, which dates between circa 1350-1680, contains a historic component associated with the Spanish Colonial Period.  Adjacent to Sevilleta Pueblo is a segment of the Camino Real, its period of use dating between 1598-1880+.  Dr. Michael Bletzer, who has been conducting test excavations at Sevilleta Pueblo since 2013, presented an overview regarding his research of the site.  The field practicum included intensive metal detection sweeps of a plaza that is enclosed by pueblo room blocks, and sample sweeps of the pueblo’s northern and southern exterior activity areas.  Recovered artifacts include chain mail rings, fired and unfired lead shot, a dagger tip, a dagger scabbard fitting, a variety of equestrian- and clothing-related objects, needles, straight pins, and adornment.

The field practicum resulted in the discovery of hundreds of metal artifacts, most of which date to the 17th century.  The class demonstrated the efficacy of systematic metal detection, and survey results will significantly aid Dr. Bletzer in his interpretation of Sevilleta Pueblo’s Spanish Colonial component.