“Ask An Archaeologist” Zoom Presentation:

Capturing Archaeological Sites Using Aerial Drone Technology

With April M. Brown,

Digital Media Coordinator The Archaeological Conservancy


Over the past few years, aerial drone technology has become a valuable archaeological tool,

especially as the technology has become more affordable.  Drones aid in discovering

previously undetectable features; can be outfitted with specialty sensors; and offer a

large-scale perspective of cultural sites that is impossible to achieve on the ground. 

I recently had the privilege of producing a series of virtual tours for The Archaeological

Conservancy that were featured in the Santa Fe New Mexican.  The first in the series

features James Walker, our Southwestern Regional Director and Vice President, leading

a tour of Arroyo Hondo.  Episode 2 is in production and will feature a guided tour of San

Marcos Pueblo by Conservancy President Mark Michel.  Drones transform these Galisteo

Basin Pueblo Sites from fields of grassy mounds into defined features and site boundaries

that are only visible from the air. 

A side from entertainment, drones can also offer valuable details on potential illegal activity and environmental risks to the site; as well as allow for high-resolution photographs that can also be used in GIS spatial analysis tools.  This Thursday, I will discuss the Conservancy’s virtual tour project, as well as other uses for drones that are certain to be the wave of the future in archaeology. 

April M. Brown recently graduated magna cum laude from the University of New Mexico with a Bachelor of Science in Anthropology, a concentration in Archaeology, and a minor in Geographic Information Science.  Her honors research focused on documenting rock art sites in the Jemez Mountains using drones and spatial analysis tools.  She is the Digital Media Coordinator for the Archaeological Conservancy, a national non-profit organization based in Albuquerque that acquires and preserves cultural sites across America.  In this position, she produces digital content for social media and the web, hosts and mediates virtual lectures, and is responsible for the virtual tour production, editing, and distribution for the Conservancy.


How to join the Zoom meeting:  You will need the Zoom app on your phone or computer.  It is free and easy to download.  Click on the URL below and follow the prompts.  You may join with or without your video activated.  If you choose “no video” you will see and hear everything, but your picture will not be displayed.  The meeting will be recorded for future access.

Open Recorded Program by clicking this linkDrone Archaeology

Arroyo Hondo video:


What Ifs: Santa Fe and Southwestern Archaeology

with Dr. Stephen  Lekson

Individuals and institutions of Santa Fe played decisive roles in the development

of Southwestern archaeology. Steve Lekson argues that, for over a century,

southwestern archaeology got the history of ancient Southwest wrong. Instead,

he advocates an entirely new approach—one that separates the archaeological

thought in the Southwest from its anthropological home and moves to more

historical ways of thinking.

The attached lecture traces the remarkable influences of Santa Fe’s archaeologists,

museums, and world-views on the practice of Southwestern archaeology and on

our perceptions of the ancient past. In this entertaining and thought-provoking talk, archaeologist Stephen Lekson asks some “what ifs?” What if: Instead of Santa Fe, Southwestern archaeology centered in Tucson? Or developed out of Ciudad Chihuahua? Or if Southwestern archaeology identified as History, rather than as a laboratory of Anthropology? Or my personal favorite, “What if Hewett had stayed in Greeley, Co?”

Please enjoy this video generously provided by Dr. Lekson and SAR.

Tech Note: In the webinar supplied in this issue, it will likely start around two to three minutes in. Just re-start the timer by moving the timer slide bar at the bottom of the screen all the way to the left. After the time reset, to remove the busyness of additional YouTube videos on the right side of your screen, just press f (just f) to make it full screen. When finished, press f again to minimize the screen.


Use this link to view Dr. Lekson's lecture:  What Ifs


In his own words, Dr. Lekson describes himself. “I am an archaeologist, working in the U.S. Southwest. Most of my fieldwork has been in the Mogollon and Anasazi (Ancestral Pueblo) regions, but I’ve also dabbled in Hohokam, Casas Grandes, Jornada, and Rio Grande areas. My principal interests are human geography, built environments, and government; but my current research projects have more to do with migrations (Pinnacle Ruin, in southern New Mexico) and household archaeology (Yellow Jacket, in southwestern Colorado). I am also interested in museums (I am Curator of Anthropology at the University of Colorado Museum of Natural History) and archaeology’s role in American and global intellectual life.”

Stephen  Lekson is the curator of archaeology and professor of anthropology at the Museum of Natural History, University of Colorado, Boulder. He has directed more than twenty archaeological projects throughout the Southwest and has published widely. His most recent books include A History of the Ancient Southwest and Chaco Meridian.


"Mud Daubers, Spiders, and Abandonment at LA 112420, An Early Developmental Pithouse in Sandoval County, NM"

Presented by Dr. Kenneth Brown

Dr. Brown reports his findings from the excavation of a previously identified archaeological site in the highway rite-of-way on the north side of highway 550 west of the Rio Grande. This project was conducted in compliance with the highway 550 Rio Grande bridge widening project in July and August in 2017.


Use this link to watch the program.   Mud Daubers


Drinking Practice and Politics in Chaco Canyon -

Presented by Dr. Patricia Crown

You may enjoy Dr. Crown's program through a webinar via YouTube. Use the link below to view her webinar, “Drinking Practice and Politics in Chaco Canyon New Mexico” generously provided by the School of Advanced Research (SAR). Dr. Crown was to be our June speaker.


This link starts about 25 minutes into her lecture. Slide the advance bar backward to the start.

Chaco Drinking Practices


Dr. Crown is an archaeologist who works in the American Southwest and has been on faculty at UNM since 1993, where she is the Leslie Spier Distinguished Professor of Anthropology. Professional recognition and honors include the A.V. Kidder Award from American Anthropological Association, UNM Presidential Award of Distinction Award and the Society of American Archaeology Award for Excellence in Ceramic Research.


Dr. Crown uncovered the first evidence of chocolate consumption in North America—north of Mexico—in 2009, and her research has received national and international attention. Crown and colleague Jeffery Hurst—at the time a senior chemist for the Hershey Company—have analyzed the identified chemical signature of cacao in three sherds of distinctive cylinder jars from Chaco Canyon, expanding knowledge of trade relationships between Mesoamerica and the US Southwest.