The Human Family

Tlaltecuhtli monolith below Tenochtitlan’s Great Pyramid

Exhibition photos from el Museo del Templo Mayor

On January 15, 2017, I was privileged to make a visit to the UNESCO World Heritage Site and onsite museum in Mexico City’s Historic Center. I was doubly privileged in receiving a guided tour from Johannes Neurath, Carlos Mondragón, and Anahí Luna.

This blog post touches on the contents of a single room, that dedicated to the massive sculpture depicting the Aztec Earth Lord and a selection of the offerings placed beneath. (more…)

Pinturas Rupestres Banzhá

Rock art in Hidalgo, Mexico

This past Friday I made a day trip out of El DF into rural Hidalgo state at the invitation of Rocío Gress and Ana Díaz. Carlos Mondragon, my gracious host for my week long stay in Mexico, was doubly gracious to serve as our driver out of the capital’s morning rush hour traffic and onto some bumpy country roads.

Our Banzhá rock art visit was by far the highlight of my week in Mexico. And I say that 1) after having had been wowed by the Aztec Templo Mayor on the previous Sunday, the Museo Nacional Nacional de Antropología on Tuesday, and Teotihuacan on Wednesday, and 2) despite finding myself in the middle of a nasty head cold on the day of the visit. (more…)

Mississippian dot and concentric circle motif

My Wednesday post occasioned a most informative and enlightening Facebook thread. Contributors included Jay Franklin, Lynne Sullivan, Chris Rodning, and (especially) Adam King.

Adam pointed out the resemblance of motif seen on the cazuela rim sherds recovered at 40Wg143 to the so-called eye of the snake element that dominates Brakebill, Carter’s Quarter, and Citico style gorgets. A set of concentric circles (indicated in the paired images below via yellow ovals) surround an open dot (indicated in the paired images below via maroon ovals). A ring of dots (indicated in the paired images below via black arrows) sits in the space between the outermost engraved/incised circles.  (more…)

Rattlesnakes in Cherokee ethnology

(Proto)historic records from excavation, archives, and ethnography

Over the past few weeks I have had the pleasure of participating in the Winter 2015/16 ETSU Archaeological Field School at a multi-component site on the Nolichucky River. One of the more eye-catching finds was a finely-wrought cazuela with a coiled rattlesnake motif punctated amidst the rim incising.


Rattlesnake cazuela recovered at 40Wg143 in January, 2016. Photo courtesy of Jay Franklin.


Lithic preforms

Unfinished points and knives

I’ve been working as a crew member on a Section 110 survey in the Southern Piedmont for the past few weeks. This past Friday (06 November 2015) I walked down to the water’s edge to take my lunch and spent a couple of minutes poking around on the surface before I sat down on my screen to eat.

archaeological survey

The beach where I took lunch. I recovered the preform on the surface under the evergreens in the center of the purple oval.


3 Cherokee fish weirs

Fishing weirs in the Tuckasegee and Little Tennessee

Tuckasegee River

Allman fish weir

The high visibility of the Allman weir in Webster is owing in part to its maintenance by post-Removal property owners.

To view this weir, find the pull off on River Road between Dillsboro and Webster and walk a few yards south. While it is possible to make out the weir through full summer foliage, it is most visible seen when the leaves are down.

Tuckasegee River; Cherokee; weir; fishing

The Allman weir in Webster, N.C.


Cherokee villages in the Nacoochee Valley

Nacoochee and Chota

The first detailed written account of the Cherokee Country is found in the journal kept by one of the officers serving in the 1715/16 expedition into the region that took place in the context of the Yamasee War. The journal documents the presence of two Cherokee villages in the Nacoochee Valley. Nacoochee was located somewhere on the eastern end of the valley; Chota was centered at the mound on the western end of valley.

Archaeology of the Nacoochee Mound

Chattahoochee River

Chota’s mound is a highly visible contemporary landmark, found even on the USGS Helen topo quad.


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