First Work Day at Skiles Shelter

Hi, this is Jacob Sullivan. I’m a recent graduate of Texas State University and archaeology intern working on the 2014 Eagle Nest Canyon Expedition. Today’s efforts focused entirely on Skiles Shelter. The landowner, Jack Skiles, is especially concerned for this site due to the shelters flooding in July of 2010 during hurricane Alex. The day began with a brief introduction to the advanced electronics we will be using for data recording in the field. These included tablets, laptops, cameras, and the Total Data Station (TDS).

The team broke up into three groups. The first group was comprised of Vicky Munoz (SHUMLA), Jeremy Freeman (SHUMLA), and Brooke Bonorden. They were tasked with recording datums using the TDS. The TDS was set up on the west rim of the canyon. The purpose was to georeference locations within the shelter.

Charles Koenig, Bryan Heisinger, and Dr. Steve Black made up the second group. They worked on removing a substantial amount of sediment which had fallen into unit AB (a 1x2m dug during the 2013 field school), mostly through the process of bioturbation (ground squirrels). Then they cleaned up the unit’s south profile in order to better record the layers of exposed strata.

Tina Nielsen and myself began the excavation of unit D (1x2m) as the third group. Our goal was to excavate through the disturbed topsoil until we encountered undisturbed sediment. The only hiccup of the day had to do with the location of our screening station. Initially it was located opposite the tufa mound on the downstream end of the shelter. The team moved the further downslope in order to protect the sensitive rock art, located in the upstream section of the shelter, from dust.

In my opinion, the best aspect of today was seeing how well our crew worked together.  On the first day of excavation this season I really got a sense of the team’s work ethic and excitement for project going forward. Now more than ever I feel what a privilege it is to be here.


The projects Principal Investigator, Dr. Steve Black, took it on the nose today but managed to carry on with a smile.

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