Archive for the ‘Artifacts and Archaeology’ category

Blessings for the Remains

February 2, 2013

Last week I was talking with a friend about the reburial of some human remains. The remains were discovered in mid 2003 by a contractor working for Bernalillo County. The contractor was working on a sewage system and unearthed the bones of an old cemetery, or camposanto. The camposanto was just north of Albuquerque rather close to the Rio Grande.

The New Mexico Historic Preservation Division of the Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA) was contacted by the contractor as soon as the remains were uncovered. This division assists with the identification and protection of cultural resources in my state. The work had indeed exposed an archaeological site. This division of DCA worked closely with archaeologists from the University of New Mexico on this site.

I remember when that story first surfaced. It is always horrifying to learn that these things happen. I helped a couple of people several years ago who were looking for information on the area where the remains were discovered. A recent article reported that the remains of about 123 people were recovered from the site. If my memory serves me right at the time I helped those people, the remains of at least 70 residents of the early village of Alameda had been discovered.

Archaeologists determined that the human remains were from a former burial ground of the original Nativity of Our Blessed Virgin Mary Church in Alameda. The time period tied to that community was from around 1700 to 1900. In the first few years of that final century, a major flood swallowed the area.

This past week, parishioners of the current Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church had a rosary and participated in a funeral procession. The church now sits on higher ground, due to that historic flood. The church parishioners then reburied the disturbed remains in the San Carlos Cemetery. The reburial coincided with the centennial celebration of that parish. I find that interesting because the church was built in 1913, shortly after New Mexico became a state.

Many years ago I remember helping two different archaeologists research a dig here in Santa Fe. Sadly, one of the archaeologists has now passed away. By using maps, we discovered that the area they were excavating here in Santa Fe was once a cemetery. It was scary to see the city divide the land and basically sell “graveyard” lots several years later. If I recall, that happened in the 1950s.

The most recent article on the Alameda remains said that with a “proper burial” these people were “now at final rest.” I send my blessings for the remains. It is unfortunate that someday these bones may be studied yet again by another set of archaeologists.

A Study of Ancient Minds

August 11, 2012

There is a Community Lecture on September 12, 2012. The lecture starts at 7:30pm and will take place at the James A. Little Theater in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The lecture is titled Reading Ancient Minds: Metaphor, Culture, and History Making. Scott Ortman, an Omidyar Fellow with the Santa Fe Institute and a Lightfoot Fellow with the Crow Canyon Archaeological Center will likely deliver a powerful presentation. Following is the abstract for this lecture.

How much does culture influence the fates of human societies? Our experiences with contemporary politics suggest that the varying ways humans construe the world do make a difference, but the traditional view in many fields is that, in the big picture, material forces trump human conceptualizations. Ortman argues that we don’t actually know the answer yet, but that new approaches in archaeology may suggest an answer. Cognitive science suggests that conceptual metaphors are the building blocks of human conceptual systems; Ortman illustrates how one can discover these metaphors through archaeological and linguistic analysis and discusses how these methods enable one to see the role of culture in history using examples drawn from his research on ancestral Pueblo societies of the U.S. Southwest.

Sounds super interesting doesn’t it? I love the study of metaphors, symbols, signs, imagery, and other elusive forms of communication. If I go, I will go alone with just a thinking cap and a notepad- oh and of course my crow sign!

Hint of Sex: Allusion in Music Videos

August 1, 2012

**Screen shot from Miguel’s music video Girls Like You**
The video is about a woman. In this shot, I see four “cups” or triangles. Three are positive and one is negative. The image of the woman is red which is also highly symbolic.

I am really into music (audio and video). I usually don’t just listen and watch, but I try to grasp deeper meanings and absorb what I perceive as symbols. I could really write a book on this topic because it is just so interesting to me, but I will spare you the novel! Over the last few years, I started to notice that several of the music videos I loved were using positive and negative space in ways that maybe others didn’t notice? There is often a mirror technique rendered in these videos which functions as an allusion to sex. I had to pull out some specific screen shots to show you what I mean, but underneath each shot I will explain what I see and the symbolism.

**Acoma Clay Dish**
This is the dish which was studied by Dorr Bothwell for her book Notan: The Dark-Light Principle of Design. Here I see two “cups” or triangles. One positive and one negative.

An American artist and designer from California named Dorr Bothwell wrote a book about design along these lines. Bothwell died in 2000, but in the late 60s she published a book titled Notan: The Dark-Light Principle of Design. This book was about the interaction of positive and negative space in works of art. I like to connect my ideas to other evidence to support my thoughts. This will offer my readers a chance to see for themselves that there is substance to my pop culture analysis of music videos. I selected two music videos to demonstrate what I mean. I love them both and they are contemporary videos. I have selected Miguel’s music video Girls Like You, and Madonna’s music video Girl Gone Wild. In these videos there are numerous frames capturing male and female symbols. Of course they are both about women. Hopefully when you see the shots, you can connect imagery to the music. To give you an idea of how far back these symbols reach I did some minor research.

**Kantharos Cup from
Athens National Museum**
The artist of this literal “cup” depicted connection. Hands are reaching out. Here I see two “cups” or triangles. One positive and one negative.

We could start our historical journey into this symbolism with Athens and the Kantharos Wine Cup. This cup was formed using a “male-and-female combination.” What was the artist alluding to? Let’s skip on to Bothwell’s book. In one part of her book, the author studies the design of a black and white clay dish. The dish was a piece of pottery created by a Pueblo Indian from Acoma Pueblo here in New Mexico. This area “is built atop a sheer-walled, 367-foot sandstone bluff in a valley studded with sacred, towering monoliths.” The same type of symbolism I can see in these music videos was also conveyed in ancient pottery of the Acoma people. Acoma Pueblo has been part of our history “since 1150 AD,” and the pueblo “has earned the reputation as the oldest continuously inhabited community in North America.” Eons later, Lord Byron, an English poet in the Romantic Movement would say “life’s enchanted cup sparkles near the brim.” Life’s enchanted cup? It is sparkly near the brim? Would you say that the right sparkly thing would attract you regardless of sexual preference? What could Lord Byron have been alluding to?

**Screen shot from Madonna’s
music video Girl Gone Wild**
The video is about a woman. In this shot, I see six “cups” or triangles. Some are positive and some are negative. The image also represents connection.

**Screen shot from Miguel’s music video Girls Like You**
The video is about a woman. In this shot, I see four “cups” or triangles. Three are positive and one is negative. The image of the woman is red which is also highly symbolic.

People with Jewish roots often reference “the cup of living waters.” What is that? Living water? I would say a symbol of life and fertility. Even the ancient Celts celebrated women through symbolism. “In Paganism, the cup symbolizes water, which is a feminine element. The cup resembles a woman’s womb and is therefore considered to be the symbol of the Goddess of the Womb and the female reproductive function in general. It is an all-encompassing symbol for fertility, a woman’s gift for gestation and the creation of life; a woman’s intuition and psychic abilities; and the subconscious. In Christianity, the chalice is the symbol of the Holy Communion as it was the vessel which held the wine which symbolizes the blood of Christ. Recent symbolisms however hold the chalice as a symbol for the womb of a woman, not unlike the beliefs held by non-Christian practitioners.”

**Screen shot from Miguel’s music video Girls Like You**
The video is about a woman. In this shot, I see three “cups” or triangles. Two are positive and one is negative. The dark large images to the left and right are actually the separated legs of a woman.

**Screen shot from Madonna’s music video Girl Gone Wild**
The video is about a woman. In this shot, I see three “cups” or triangles.
Two are positive and one is negative.
The image also represents connection and seduction.

If you look at entertainment and popular culture, we have the movie the Da Vinci Code. The famous line from this movie is “and the chalice resembles a cup or vessel, or more importantly the shape of the woman’s womb. The Grail has never been a cup. It is quite literally this ancient symbol of womanhood.” What about the Cups in Tarot? The cup cards are said to represent: heart; psyche; emotions; illusion; opening; sensuality; and temptation among other things. I am sure I could find many, many more things to connect my thoughts to, but I am tired. This topic may call for a closer analysis in the future.

My Ancient Celtic Tongue

June 17, 2012

The Celtic Torc

On Friday, June 15, I attended a lecture to learn more about the Celt-Iberians and my yDNA (paternal). The lecture was in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and was held in conjunction with the 2012 Genealogical Society of Hispanic America Conference. I was thankful to Kathy Archuleta for allowing me to attend, and I will need to remember to call her and thank her personally.

The presenter started off by playing Spanish Celtic music which featured a Spanish bagpipe or Gaita. The artist was José Ángel Hevia Velasco, known professionally as Hevia. The majority of the presentation focused on a documentary about the Celts in Europe. The Celtic tribes were called “a great civilization” and the documentary featured ancient “galleries of rock art” which were used for rituals. The rock art depicted dwellings, hunting scenes, and tribal warriors with “exaggerated phallic displays.” An interesting archaeological excavation uncovered over 150 iron swords, spearheads, and daggers from the Lake Neuchatel site (La Tene, Switzerland).

Other archaeological discoveries included: royal tombs; Celtic art such as beautiful and intricate gold jewelry; plates with swirling patters and motifs; head dresses; gold vases; mirrors; bronze shields; and imagery of part animal/part human creatures. Some of the art work was called “nightmarish,” and was just my style. I am apparently a Spanish Celt at heart!! 🙂 The artworks featured monsters, and there was one piece with a human head in a monster’s mouth. The commentator of this documentary said that this was “the art of the elite,” and that it “expresses authority.”

We learned about how the Celtic tribes plundered the Greeks, and the Gods were said to have intervened at the sacred site of Delphi. That is why I wrote about the Oracle last night. I learned that the Iberian Peninsula has been a problem for scholars for several reasons. Some of the ancient structures built by the Celts included: pit traps; defensive towers; circular dwellings; and hill forts for protection (many of which go back to the Bronze Age). We learned some about migration from the documentary, though there is apparently no evidence of mass immigration. I saw the first written record of land ownership carved in stone.

I love that warfare was an intrinsic part of Celtic life. I may write at some point about the carnyx, which was made of bronze, and was the Celtic “instrument of war.” The instrument made an eerie sound, known by all as a warning. One scholar interviewed in the documentary said that the Celts “made great slaughter and decapitated enemies.” They had “the ability to kill and kill and great numbers,” and were “a powerful and organized society.” I would also like to learn more about the torc, as a symbol of authority. This was an open-ended ring of metal worn around the neck.

A couple of interesting thoughts I came away with…

I must get some traits from my ancient forefathers. I was glad to learn that art and music were very important to the ancient Celtic tribes. I had never thought about this until Friday, but for years people from outside of New Mexico have asked if I was from Europe. Many people have asked if I was Scottish or Irish. Yeah I know— New Mexicans– strange ha? I have always thought it was funny, but as it turns out, maybe my tongue actually makes sounds indicative of an ancient Celtic nation? Apparently, “during the 1st millennium BC,” Celtic languages “were spoken across Europe,” and “in the Iberian Peninsula.” Hum? Another thought was how very appropriate it was that I was learning about my yDNA just a couple of days before Father’s Day!

New Quarter Honors Chaco Culture National Historical Park

April 1, 2012
Chaco Culture National Historical Park Quarters in Bags and Rolls

Chaco Culture National Historical Park Quarters in Bags and Rolls

Chaco Culture National Historical Park Quarters Released in Bags and Rolls

Originally published online by America the Beautiful Quarters Staff on March 31, 2012 at

Starting the month of April for United States Mint product launches will be the release of bags and rolls of Chaco Culture National Historical Park Quarters. The coins officially enter circulation through Federal Reserve banking channels on Monday, April 2, 2012, and the U.S. Mint will offer two-roll sets and 100-coin bags of the quarters on the same day beginning at 12:00 noon ET.

Chaco Culture National Historical Park Quarters are the second of five 2012 America the Beautiful Quarters and the 12th overall in the ATB series which debuted in 2010. The coin, as the name implies, honors Chaco Culture National Historical Park which is located in the state of New Mexico.

The quarter’s reverse design reflects a view to the west of two elevated kivas that are part of the Chetro Ketl Complex. The design shows the north wall of Chetro Ketl and the north wall of the canyon. Inscriptions on the reverse include CHACO CULTURE, NEW MEXICO, 2012 and E PLURIBUS UNUM. The designer was Donna Weaver and the sculptor was Phebe Hemphill.

Prices for bags and rolls of quarters released this year are less expensive than past years. 100-coin bags may be purchased for $34.95, which is down $15 from 2010 and 2011-dated bags. The bags are filled with 100 Chaco Culture quarters minted from either Philadelphia or Denver — buyer’s choice. The canvas bags are tagged with “Chaco Culture National Historical Park,” “NM” and “P” or “D.”

The two-roll sets include one roll of 40 quarters from the Philadelphia Mint and another roll of 40 quarters from the Denver Mint. U.S. Mint wrapping displayed on each of the rolls has “Chaco Culture National Historical Park,” the abbreviation “NM” for New Mexico, “$10,” for the face value of its contents, and “P” or “D” for the U.S. Mint of origin. The rolls are priced at $32.95, which is $7 cheaper than previous rolls.

The bags and rolls may be purchased directly from the United States Mint website at or by calling 1-800-USA-MINT (872-6468). Upcoming quarter designs in 2012 will honor Acadia National Park in Maine, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park in Hawaii and Denali National Park in Alaska. The first quarter released in 2012 celebrated El Yunque National Forest located in Puerto Rico.

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Māori: Origins of a Warrior

January 26, 2012

Digital composite of a Māori Warrior by Felicia Lujan. Includes: multiple renderings of a Moko drawing of Te Pehi’s face (1975 white paper); a photograph of a wooden Māori dagger (1920 white paper); and one contemporary photograph.

Origins of a Warrior


Māori man, I can feel the power

of your breath. The energy in each

breath searches for listening hearts.


Māori man, your ancestral cry

pierces me. Indigenous warrior, you

must protect your land and people.

Māori man, your roots run deep.

They are so deep, that only the stars

can remember the origin of those

who came before you.


Māori man, identity marked in thick

black will grace the face of your son.

The children of your children will

forever value your whakapapa.


Māori man, I can feel the spirit

of this spiral of life. The force

gives me strength, and penetrates

my listening heart.


by Felicia Lujan_1.25.2012


Old Māori Proverb
Ma te huruhuru te manu ka rere, Ma te ao te rangi ka uhi.”
By feathers alone can the bird fly, By clouds are the heavens covered.”
————A Māori Bone Decorative Comb from Riverton by H.D. Skinner
————Journal of the Polynesian Society, Vol. 39, No. 3 (1930), Page 285

War cry of their ancestors, the War Haka or Peruperu is a traditional dance of the Māori of New Zealand. This dance is filled with powerful movements, which involve the entire body and spirit. With their eyes open wide, strong stances, and the use of their tongue, the Māori exude strength. Heavy sounds from the slaps of their hands, dominant foot stomps, and deep shouts, are used to evoke the God of War. This dance is fierce, and is performed with weapons. According to some accounts, the Haka changed dramatically following World War I, but I would need to do more research to confirm that.

I became enthralled with the Māori when Alan Duff’s independent film Once Were Warriors (1994) was released. Duff, a journalist, novelist, and native to New Zealand gave me my first taste of culture in the South Pacific Ocean. I wanted to know more about the islands of New Zealand, which are at least half a world away from me. The film is centered on the social problems of the Heke family, and is still used today as a tool by educators and historians internationally. What inspires me in this film are the themes of hope and family. I am so inspired by the ability of a family to draw strength from tragedy. When one son in the fictional family immerses himself in the spirit of his ancestors, some of the family members are able to band together with mighty force. After seeing these men perform the War Haka or Peruperu, I was intrigued.

From 2001-2003, with each release in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, I couldn’t help but remain mystified by the beautiful scenes filmed in New Zealand. There were breathtaking mountains, waters, and mystical places. The islands seemed magical. Through the cinematography in these movies, I could almost grasp the spirit of place. I was recently reminded of New Zealand by “a woman of strength,” Maryanne Pale ( Maryanne is the woman who nominated me for a Genuine Blogger Award. I was honored to be nominated by such a distinguished and beautiful writer. After discovering she was from New Zealand, I started to look into the origins, history, and mythology of the Māori.

I did track down four anthropological white papers written between 1901 and 1975. I was absolutely amazed to find out that the tattoo (moko) of the Māori often represents ancestral origins (genealogy). I couldn’t believe it?! As an archivist, as a genealogist, as an artist, and as a tattooed woman, I found this astounding. According to one anthropological account of moko designs, “the symbolism that governed an artist’s choices in composition has been lost.” It is understandable that the researchers are referring to hard copy records. Though actual records relative to the symbolism of moko designs may be nonexistent, certainly oral history and collective memory have preserved meaning. One account of an indigenous carver, said that he “was brought up to believe the different patterns in front of each ear represented descent from the male and female sides of a man’s family.”

It was also interesting for me to discover that the primary marks used by the Māori are “curves and spirals.” The spiral is of course one of my signs. I have been signing my art and poetry with the symbol since I was in my youth. I am always lead to the subjects of my writing for a reason, because as we all know, everything happens for a reason. Can you imagine wearing your lineage as a visual badge? It is a fascinating tradition to say the least. In the future, I hope to learn more about the Māori, and maybe one day I can visit New Zealand.

General Information:

Māori Haka

Lord of the Rings Trilogy- Film Locations

Information on New Zealand

Scholarly Sources:

Māori Tatu and Moko by H. Ling Roth
Journal of the Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland, Vol. 31(1901), Pages 29-64

On Two Wooden Māori Daggers by William Ridgeway and H.D. Skinner
Man, Vol. 20 (1920), Pages 49-52

A Māori Bone Decorative Comb from Riverton by H.D. Skinner
Journal of the Polynesian Society, Vol. 39, No. 3 (1930), Pages 284-285

Moko and C.F. Goldie by Michael King
Journal of the Polynesian Society, Vol. 84, No. 4 (1975), Pages 431-440

King Tut and Haplogroup R1b1a2

November 18, 2011

It is amazing to see the hits when one searches the information highway for stories about King Tut’s DNA. Sometime back, I discovered that the men in my paternal line share the same Y-DNA of this king. Tut’s DNA derived from Haplogroup R1b1a2. There are still a great number of people at odds over his origin, but I’ll bet most of them are not scientists!! 🙂

Half of European Men Share King Tut’s DNA
Originally published on the Reuters Africa web site (8.1.2011 by Alice Baghdjian and edited by Paul Casciato)

LONDON Aug 1 (Reuters Life!) – Up to 70 percent of British men and half of all Western European men are related to the Egyptian Pharaoh Tutankhamun, geneticists in Switzerland said.

Scientists at Zurich-based DNA genealogy centre, iGENEA, reconstructed the DNA profile of the boy Pharaoh, who ascended the throne at the age of nine, his father Akhenaten and grandfather Amenhotep III, based on a film that was made for the Discovery Channel.

The results showed that King Tut belonged to a genetic profile group, known as haplogroup R1b1a2, to which more than 50 percent of all men in Western Europe belong, indicating that they share a common ancestor.

Among modern-day Egyptians this haplogroup contingent is below 1 percent, according to iGENEA.

“It was very interesting to discover that he belonged to a genetic group in Europe — there were many possible groups in Egypt that the DNA could have belonged to,” said Roman Scholz, director of the iGENEA Centre.

Around 70 percent of Spanish and 60 percent of French men also belong to the genetic group of the Pharaoh who ruled Egypt more than 3,000 years ago.

“We think the common ancestor lived in the Caucasus about 9,500 years ago,” Scholz told Reuters.

It is estimated that the earliest migration of haplogroup R1b1a2 into Europe began with the spread of agriculture in 7,000 BC, according to iGENEA.

However, the geneticists were not sure how Tutankhamun’s paternal lineage came to Egypt from its region of origin.

The centre is now using DNA testing to search for the closest living relatives of “King Tut”.

“The offer has only been publicised for three days but we have already seen a lot of interest,” Scholz told Reuters.

The Mystery of King Tut’s Spanish and European Ancestors

September 15, 2011

Published August 02, 2011
| Fox News Latino

King Tut is making noise even from the after-life with the discovery that 70 percent of men across Spain and Britain and 50 percent of all men in Europe are ancestors of Egypt’s boy king. 

Only 1 percent of Egyptians carry the same DNA as their ancient pharaoh.

Geneticists at Switzerland-based iGENEA DNA genealogy test center say the young Pharaoh and the bulk of European men fall into the genetic haplogroup R1b1a2, according to

What is mysterious about the news is that researchers are unsure how Tutankhamun would come to have the same DNA of Europeans. That little tidbit has iGENEA flummoxed. 

“Since paternal ancestry of King Tut is unknown, therefore it is not clear at this point of time, how this lineage came from its region of origin to Egypt,” the website read.

The results are particularly shocking because so few Egyptians carry his DNA. 

The genealogy test center reconstructed the “Y-DNA profile of Tutankhamun, his father Akhenaten and his grandfather Amenhotep III” by watching a special on the Discovery Channel.

So if you want to brush up against the ancestors of ancient Egyptian royalty you might do well to start in Spain or Britain.

A Close Journey…

July 16, 2011

For a few days we escaped the busyness of life to eat, roam, and give back to our local economy. Originally, our excursion was intended to take us outside of New Mexico, but I agreed to stay local under the condition that we make a “historic” detour on the final day. The trip started in Albuquerque. We stayed a couple of nights at the Hyatt Downtown. I initially wanted to make time to go the the Main Library to research, as I was just a few steps away, but unfortunately never got over there. We went to go visit the New Mexico Museum of Natural History for the one-millionth time, but it never gets old. Of course Daryn is always gushing with excitement to see the dinosaurs, baby sting rays, little sharks, infant dinosaurs emerging from eggs, bugs, spiders, bees, bat bones, and how can I forget the volcano exhibit? He even got a chance to hold a huge snake, which was in the arms of a really confident woman. He quickly turned the offer down once he heard that the snake could swallow a bird whole.

The STARTUP Exhibit never fails to intrigue me. I am always amazed by anything remotely technological. The artifacts are beautiful, and provide unique insight into the minds of Paul Allen, Bill Gates, hackers, and other MIT pioneers. I always see something new to focus my attention on. There were a few quotes that stood out to me on this round. Apple head, Steve Jobs starts the trip into computerdom by saying that “the journey is the reward.” That is so true! Then there is a quote by Alan Kay (an American computer scientist who is well known for GUI, or Graphical User Interface, or “gooey” design), which says that “the best way to predict the future is the invent it.” So inventive! Without his help on the gooey (or the point and click, nice screen method of getting around a computer screen), each of us would need to know how to use the command line (the black screen on the back end of your computer, where you would need to type “C:\dir” to get anywhere). Ahhh… and the internet- how funny that in 1937, H.G. Wells proposed that there should be a “world brain” an ever-changing network of information and ideas. Other notable artifacts of interest to me were the Brainiac Electric Brain Kit, and the super early Zen Digital Player (of course because I breathe music). I also love the section on the MIT hackers who created the world’s first computer game in 1961 using the PDP-1 instead of a mainframe.

The planetarium is filled with many mysteries. The blue colored summer and winter solstice chart captures the signs of the zodiac and the surrounding heavenly body. One can really see how somethings may indeed be written in the stars. I learned that a black hole is an object with gravity so strong that even light can not escape it. The hole is an area of inescapable gravity. Some of my personal perplexities in life today are the black holes of my psyche. I became fascinated with learning about the birth of stars, and the Orion Nebula (the central point of light in the Orion Constellation). I suddenly felt small and insignificant in the greater universe, just a small fragment in this continuum. The Digital Earth Exhibit is outstanding as well. It features a rotating globe which is interlinked with color coded digital climate and weather models. It is a great accomplishment to create something that actually works scientifically, and is still attractive. Wow- what a concept! I took a picture of the globe during a climate change simulation. 

A Historic Detour

The pre-planned “historic” detour was our final destination. I opted for Petroglyph National Monument. This area has been on the New Mexico State Register of Cultural Properties as the Las Imagines: Albuquerque West Mesa Archaeological District, File No. 1234 since February of 1986. The site has also been on the National Register of Historic Places since November of 1986.

I had never been to the Bernalillo County monument off of Unser Blvd., and was excited to see the ancient markings of our predecessors. I am very interested in signs and symbols, thus rock art is of natural wonder to me. The sun was hot, the air was dry, and the path made of sand was extremely fine. It was a really good workout to trek through the trail, and it was well worth it to behold unmatched beauty. I took many photos, but some symbols stood out to me more than others. Of course, my usual spiral signs glared at me and seemed to jump off the stones (I even bought a sticker for my runner). You can look back at my older posts for that symbolism. The Desert Millipede shares in that symbolization, with lively tracks in the sand, and departed carcasses littering the blistery earth.

It was amazing to think about how Pueblo, Apache, Navajo, and Spanish explorers survived these unforgiving environmental conditions. How? They even took the time to leave lasting detailed messages in stone, which would endure hundreds and thousands of years, and maybe even for eternity. A permanent record of sorts!  As Ron Martinez Looking Elk said “symbols are a reflection of spirituality.”  Many cultures believed, and still believe that cracks in natural formations, are spiritual gateways.  I took a photo of one such occurrence in a large rock.

The monument is now part of the National Park Service System thanks to H.R. 4930, sponsored by Representative Manuel Lujan Jr., and cosponsored by Representative Bill Richardson and Representative Joe Skeen (100th Congress). H.R. 4930 established Petroglyph National Monument in New Mexico as a unit of the National Park System, yielded certain authority to the Secretary of the Interior, allowed for the expansion of the monuments boundaries if needed, and provided for the administration of the monument (Library of Congress- THOMAS System- Petroglyph National Monument Act of 1988).

I bought a book at the Visitor Center that day titled A Field Guide to Rock Art Symbols of the Greater Southwest by Alex Patterson. The book draws on the knowledge of archaeologists, anthropologists, scholars, and Native Americans in the interpretation and decoding of symbolic rock art. It is such a good book. It contains the research of some people I have helped over the years- others I am familiar with, and some who have research collections in the archives.

Felish n D at Petroglyph National Monument- 7.2011


King Tut’s Maternal DNA Match…

June 20, 2011

Using the latest DNA analysis methods, the team confirms that a anonymous female mummy in tomb KV35 is Tut’s mother.

Recent news from

June 20, 2011

Forensic DNA- The Real Mona Lisa Model to be Proven With DNA


DNA Migration- Archeology and Genetics Challenge the Earliest Time of Native American Population


Success is in Your Genes


Enchantment: The Deflection and Assemblage of Intellects

June 13, 2011

O true apothecary! Thy drugs are quick, thus with a kiss I die.” 

-William Shakespeare

True, I talk of dreams, which are the children of an idle brain, begot of nothing but vain fantasy.”

-William Shakespeare

Possession was released in 2002. The movie is based on A.S. Byatt’s 1990 novel Possession: A Romance, and stars Gwyneth Paltrow, Aaron Eckhart, Jeremy Northam, Jennifer Aehle, and Lena Headey. The movie has so much that I have passion for with history, poetry, scholars, archives and libraries, museums, a crystal ball, and symbolism. It is also filled with intellectual enigmas. I would now like to read the novel, but have not yet attempted to secure a copy. I have read that in this novel the author uses epigraphs to start each chapter. I find this interesting, as I tend to do the same thing when I write. This story line centers on two post-modern scholars who retrace the footsteps of two Victorian Era writers. The scholars do so in an attempt to learn more about the relationship between these two writers, and in effect themselves.

Roland (Eckhart) is a post-grad working in the British Museum. He uncovers long forgotten letters in an old book in the London Library, which raise more questions than answers. The discovery could forever change what scholars have believed about the life of two poets. In asking for advice from a stern professor of Gender Studies named Maud (Paltrow), the two embark on a mysterious investigative journey. When Roland approaches Maud with the letter, she is skeptical about the discovery, and scolds him for removing the original from the library. The letter may confirm an illicit affair, and so the scholars are drawn to seek the truth. They decide to trace the steps of these poets, and discover their own passions along the way.

The fictional Victorian Era writers being analyzed by Maud and Roland are the star-crossed lovers, Randolph Henry Ash and Christabel LaMotte. Each is in a respective relationship, still they discover a profound connection which brings an intimacy through correspondence. Maud and Roland become intrigued and discover written hidden messages from LaMotte in her old family home, which lead to a treasure trove of old letters, poetry, and of course more clues. The documents are hidden away in a childhood keepsake. Once the scholars discover the letters and poems, they sit amazed and stay reading them together, learning on the floor of LaMotte’s old room.

The word “possession” reflects a dual significance in this story by A.S. Byatt. This can be seen when the possession of diaries, letters, poetry, collections, and rights to a collection exude power in the cutthroat world of academia. Maud is a LaMotte scholar, and is a direct descendant of the LaMotte family. There is also a mention of the LaMotte genealogy in the movie. Possession is also integrated into relationships, where the condition of physically owning a partner and maybe the psyche of that partner aids in self-definition. Additionally, possession is tied to sexual ideology, and this movie challenges the pigeonholes of sexuality. Star-crossed lovers, with common interests share literary expressions in an attempt to pinpoint their underlying identities.

National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) Security Training

June 6, 2011

On the week ending May 27, 2011, I attended a training delivered by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). An Archives Specialist from the Security Management Branch named Michael Knight came from College Park, MD to Santa Fe, NM to deliver the training. The training offered by Mr. Knight was indeed insightful and interesting. The training was designed for archival staff to get a firm understanding of risks, problems and issues which arise in an archive. This is intended to help us better protect permanent records. Some of the questions posed by Mr. Knight were:

What does suspicious behavior look like?

Why do people steal records and/or why do they go missing?

How do we determine motives exist?

What about intentional damage?

How do we call for a Quality Control Audit?

Sadly, there were several cases of theft, inappropriate behavior, and the altercation of records discussed in detail by Mr. Knight. There were particular cases which I found more interesting, so I did further research into these particular cases. I provide a short synopsis of these cases as follows:

Dr. Thomas Lowry and a Special Fountain Pen: The Case of an Altered Lincoln Document

On January 25, 2011, the Washington Times ran a Civil War article written by Martha M. Boltz. The headline read “Archives Alleges Dr. Lowry Altered Lincoln Document.” In the scholarly world, this alteration made Dr. Lowry a very famous man for prestigious reasons. This man was a noted author who changed the date on a document in the National Archives. The modification was to a single number, but that number was very important on a pardon record. Dr. Lowry allegedly changed the number 4 to a number 5 “using a special fountain pen,” making the document appear to be an original from 1865. The author then claimed that he had located the last document ever signed by President Abraham Lincoln right before he was assassinated in 1865. This author is most known for his book “Sex in the Civil War- Stories the Soldiers Didn’t Tell.” It took close to 14 years, for an archivist to discover the fraudulent document. Trevor Plante compared the suspect pardon, “a Presidential edict that saved a young soldier from execution,” with the penmanship on several of Lincoln’s original documents, then declared the 1865 pardon a forgery. Martha M. Boltz who reported on this story in January of this year, said that “the Woodbridge researcher and psychiatrist basked in the glory of his peers and historians everywhere as the new discovery was announced,” and that the author understood this “would be the ultimate feather in a researcher’s cap!” This case is still under investigation, but the author has apparently admitted that he altered the date.

 An Unknown Perpetrator, Binary Code, and Two Terabytes: The Case of the Missing Clinton Administration Hard Drive

Somewhere between the last quarter of 2008 and the first quarter of 2009, an external hard drive with binary data went missing from a processing room at NARA’s College Park, Maryland facility. In April of 2009, NARA staff confirmed that the external hard drive which contained data from the President Bill Clinton Administration’s Executive Office of the President (EOP) was indeed missing. There were 113, 4mm tape cartridges from the administration copied onto a two terabyte Western Digital My Book. Once it was confirmed that the drive was gone, staff reported the theft to the Archivist of the United States, and the Inspector General (IG), in addition to other officials. A Senior Agency Official for Privacy and General Counsel was also alerted of the theft, as the drive contained personal identifying

information of Executive Office of the President staff members, as well as on others who submitted information to and/or visited the White House. Several thousands of people had to be notified that their social security numbers (over 100,000), and home addresses had been part of the compromised data. There were also Secret Service security procedures, snapshots of employee computer hard drives, and other records on that drive. Though the external drive went missing, a backup had been made, so there was no data permanently lost. This case is actively being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), as well as the United States Secret Service. NARA is now offering a $50,000 reward for information leading to the recovery of this drive.

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Grave Robbing and Ill Karma: The Case of New Mexico’s Buffalo Soldiers

From the 1970s through sometime in the 2000s, the remains of Buffalo Soldiers were discovered along the river here in New Mexico near Fort Craig (established in the 1854) by grave robbers. The soldiers were from the 125thInfantry, and were African Americans nicknamed “Buffalo Soldiers” by Native Americans. In 2004, the United States Bureau of Reclamation was notified by a renowned historian that Dee Brecheisen, a Vietnam Veteran, and former National Guard pilot had been looting grave sites for years. The desecration of graves, and the looting of human remains has to be an evildoing worthy of relentless troubles to follow. The former pilot, was trained in the use of ground penetrating radar, and had used this technology to locate potential sites. Sometime back when Brecheisen passed away, his wife contacted the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to report the thefts. Human remains of soldiers were taken from original fort sites along the Rio Grande. When investigators arrived at the home of this robber, they were led to the basement. There they found human remains, as well as two shrunken heads. When the National Archives was contacted in regard to this case, a troubling discovery was made there as well. The archives had been contacted in an attempt to research possible grave locations using maps, only to discover that these items had also disappeared from the collection. In 2007, federal archaeologists exhumed over 67 bodies (39 men, two women, and 26 infants) from Civil War Era- Fort Craig in a covert dig. There were 39 sets of human remains shipped from New Mexico to Washington for further examination by anthropologists and scientists. The study was a mix of digital and nuclear science, using special scanners and xray machines. In 2010, the Buffalo Soldiers National Museum in Houston, Texas opened an exhibit titled The Forgotten Faces of Fort Craig. The exhibit utilized famed Forensic Sculptor, Amanda Danning and Dr. Ali Kamrani to replicate the skulls of Civil War Buffalo Soldiers. Following this study, the remains were re-interred in New Mexico following joint efforts of BLM, NARA, and the Santa Fe National Cemetery. This insured that these soldiers received an honorable, proper burial. This past Memorial Day Weekend (May 2011), members of the Buffalo Soldiers Motorcycle Club visited Santa Fe for a special ceremony at the National Cemetery to once again honor the soldiers.

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