WNMU Museum Sponsors Archeologists During Clay Festival

Jul 29, 2013

  Silver City, NM – The Western New Mexico University Museum is sponsoring a number of events featuring prominent archaeologists that have excavated archaeological sites throughout the region as part of the 2013 Clay Festival.

The Mimbres Culture: Known Facts and New Revelation is a lecture with Dr. Harry J. Shafer on Friday, August 2 from 9:00 a.m. to 9:50 a.m. at the Seedboat Center for the Arts located at 214 W. Yankie Street. Shafer conducted the long-term field investigations at the NAN Ranch Ruin in the Mimbres Valley, New Mexico, and authored Mimbres Archaeology at the NAN Ranch Ruin.  The now famous NAN Ranch Collection, donated to the WNMU Museum by the late Margaret Ross Hinton in 2011, is the largest and most complete collection of Mimbresmaterial culture from a single Mimbres site.

Shafer will examine some conventional wisdom and known facts about this ancient culture of southwestern New Mexico, best known for its distinctive painted pottery, aswell as some newly discovered facts, and some speculation on what these facts may be telling us. He will attempt to answer questions archeologists still ponder such as:  Who were these people? Where did they come from? How did they express beliefs in their material culture? Why did they use the medium of pottery to illustrate so much abouttheir lifeway?

Clay; From the Sacred to the Secular: Its Many Uses and Forms in the Prehistoric Southwest is a Q&A panel of prominent archeologists who will speak on Saturday, August 3, in the Besse-Forward Global Resource Center auditorium form 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. Dr. Cynthia Ann Bettison, WNMU Museum Director, is moderating the panel whose members have conducted research in the American Southwest. The free-flowing discussion and audience session is a lead-in to the Neo-Mimbreño 2013 Vessels: Two Museums One Exhibition Progressive exhibit opening that begins at the WNMU Museum at 3:00 pm. Panelists include Roger Anyon, Dr. J. Jefferson Reid, Dr. Barbara Roth, Dr. Harry J. Shafer, Dr. Stephanie Whittlesey, Dr. Christine VanPool, Dr. Todd VanPool.

“Clay is just as important as food, like maize, and water to prehistoric people because they used it as a decorative plaster on the inside of ceremonial room and used it to make pottery for cooking—the sacred to the secular,” said Bettison. The panelists, along with Bettison, have combined almost 300 years of experience conducting archaeological research in places as diverse as the American Southwest, Mexico, Peru, France, and Belize.

To prepare for Shafer’s Friday morning talk, which will highlight Mimbres pottery from the NAN Ranch Collection, and Saturday afternoon’s archaeology panel, people are encouraged to visit WNMU Museum where displays feature the NAN Ranch and Eisele Collection’s exquisite pottery and other artifacts from the Mimbres Mogollon, and other displays featuring the Eisele Collection highlight the pottery and artifacts of the Salado, Upland Mogollon, Casas Grandes, and Ancient Puebloan groups.

Western New Mexico University Museum is open Monday through Friday 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 4:30 pm. It is closed university holidays. Admission is free and it is handicapped accessible.  The University Museum is located at the top of 10th Street within the university campus. For more information about the University Museum, upcoming exhibitions, and these Clay Festival events and Archaeology Panelists, please visit

Pictured are Dr. Harry J. Shafer and Joe Shafer (student), screening, NAN Ranch Ruin Archaeology Field School in 1985.