ASU archaeologist recognized for groundbreaking ceramic research


November 23, 2010

Arizona State University archaeologist David Abbott has been selected to receive this year’s Arizona Archaeological Council Award for Contributions to Arizona Archaeology. Abbott, an associate professor in the School of Human Evolution and Social Change in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, specializes in ancient pottery of central and southern Arizona. His focus is Hohokam ceramics and what they tell us about the lifeways of this ancient people, whose extensive system of irrigation canals provided a precedent for today’s Salt River Project water delivery system.

Abbott, who has been doing Hohokam archaeology for more than three decades, participated in the Hohokam Expressway excavation in 1989-90. The massive project, funded by the Arizona Department of Transportation, contributed much of what is known about Pueblo Grande, the major Hohokam site in Phoenix. Download Full Image

His innovative research on the ceramics from the project implied a far greater complexity and scale for the ancient economy than had been previously conceived. At the time of the excavation, knowledge of Hohokam ceramic production and distribution was nonexistent. It was assumed that trading did not take place but that each group of people in the Salt and Gila River valleys made their own vessels.

Abbott’s group proved otherwise. Using thin-section analysis of potsherds, they were able to examine the crystalline structure of the temper – material, often sand or ground rock, added to clay to mitigate shrinkage and cracking during firing – and determine the origins of the temper and, thus, the pottery.

“If you can trace where a pot comes from, you can trace the interaction between the maker and consumer,” Abbott explained. “The diverse geography of central Arizona made our work possible. We have an incredible variety of rocks in a small geographic region. It was easy to tell where temper material originated.”

The big picture showed that the Hohokam had actively traded during the Sedentary Period (roughly AD 900-1100) and then moved to a local-production and local-consumption model during the Classic Period, which lasted until around AD 1450. The current big question in Hohokam archaeology is what led to the change.

Abbott is actively engaged in researching this transition. He’s also watching his work inspire the next generation. “A great joy of mine is that students are picking up on my work and going places with it I never would have imagined. That’s wonderfully gratifying,” he said.

Rebecca Howe

Communications Specialist, School of Human Evolution and Social Change

480-727-6577

Engelhardt places 51st at NCAA XC Championships


November 23, 2010

Ben">http://thesundevils.cstv.com/sports/c-xc/mtt/engelhardt_ben00.html">Ben Engelhardt competed in the 2010 NCAA Cross Country Championships at the LaVern Gibson Championship Course in Terre Haute, Ind., on Monday morning and did what he had done all season: compete hard and improve. As the lone representative in the field for Arizona State University, Engelhardt covered the 10,000m course in 30:37.1 to finish 51st overall.

Engelhardt's finish was by far his best, both based on time and overall finish, in his three career appearances at the national meet. His 51st-place finish is a 112-place improvement from his 2007 race when he finished 162nd overall while his time is an improvement of over one minute from the same year (31:39.0). Overall, his time ranks as the third-fastest in program history in NCAA meets held in Terre Haute, while his overall finish ranks as the ninth-best all-time in program history. He is now one of 10 men that have finished in the Top 55 at the NCAA meet. Download Full Image

The NCAA event marks the completion of the 2010 cross country season. The next event for the Sun Devil program will be the opening meet of the 2011 indoor track & field season, which comes January 21-22 in Albuquerque, N.M., at the Cherry and Silver Invitational.

2010 NCAA Cross Country Championships
LaVern Gibson Championship Course • Terre Haute, Ind.
ASU Men's Results - 10,000m Race
51. Ben">http://thesundevils.cstv.com/sports/c-xc/mtt/engelhardt_ben00.html">Ben Engelhardt - 30:37.1