Seventh-graders find 900-year-old pot on a field trip

A group of seventh graders from Sandia Preparatory School in Albuquerque made the discovery of a lifetime on a field trip to the El Malpais National Conservation Area near Grants, New Mexico. They were exploring the lava tube caves as part of the school’s Outdoor Leadership Program when students spotted a pot underneath a pile of rocks. They didn’t touch it or disturb it, but they could see that it was a cream-colored pot with a complex pattern of black zigzags and dashes all around.

One of the parents was knowledgeable about the laws regarding Native American artifacts, so the group left the pot in place and reported it to the U.S. National Park Service who in turn alerted the New Mexico Bureau of Land Management which protects and manages the 13 million acre conservation zone.

A previously discovered pot from the Mimbres subset of Mogollon culture, Deming Luna Mimbres Museum, Deming, New MexicoBLM archaeologists removed the pot this week. It is 18 inches high and 14 to 16 inches wide, and was discovered almost intact. Because of this stroke of good luck, archaeologists were able to determine from its size, shape and decoration that the pot is between 800 and 1,000 years old, possibly the work of the Mogollon culture which inhabited the area from 150 to 1400 A.D. It is a major find and the first significant piece discovered on New Mexico Bureau of Land Management land in ten years.

Donna Hummel of the BLM said the find could be unique and the students may not fully understand its importance. “This is very significant. We hope they appreciate that this could be a once in a lifetime discovery,” said Humme.

When told that the pot could be around 900-years-old, students expressed amazement.

“That’s crazy. I think we were probably some of the first people to see so that’s really cool,” seventh-grader Cole Schoepke said.

The Bureau has yet to release any photographs of the pot because they want to consult with the surrounding pueblos first, but there’s a charming interview with some of the students who made the discovery in this TV news story.

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6 Comments »

Comment by Anonymous
2012-05-14 11:28:07

I went to Sandia Prep and did the Malpais trip when I was in seventh grade, and all I found was that I didn’t enjoy the company of seventh graders on camping trips. I am jealous!

Comment by livius drusus
2012-05-14 12:19:59

:lol: No fair! If you have to camp with seventh graders, at the very least all that annoyance should come with a significant archaeological discovery.

 
 
Comment by D.B. Cooper
2012-05-14 16:24:12

I used to find tons of arrowheads and spearheads when the farmers would plow the fields around my house, but that’s the best I can claim as a child.

Awesome find and even better for the responsible handling by the children.

Comment by livius drusus
2012-05-15 13:59:56

Arrowheads and spearheads are awesome. Not as rare, of course, but I’m sure you got a huge kick out of finding them when you were a child. I know I would have.

 
 
Comment by Benjamin Raucher
2012-05-14 19:12:14

Beautiful find

Benjamin Raucher

 
Comment by Tristan
2012-05-15 14:07:59

Now that’s the stuff that makes a camping trip what? 900 years. That’s older than my house!

Splendid bit of info Livius. Bravo.

 
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