6/7 May Term

Taught by Jeff Bogard and Jen Bamesberger

April 25 - May 20, 2011

Essential Questions

How did the Ancestral Puebloans survive in such a harsh environment? Why did they abandon Mesa Verde? What can they teach us about managing our resources?

Course Outline

During the first two weeks, students worked at Watershed to learn from Jeff Bogard about the evolution of Ancestral Puebloan culture, how archaeologists investigate ancient civilizations, and the geology and ecology of the Four Corners region.
  • Examine garbage!  How do trash middens serve as a window into ancient culture?  We'll save all of our own garbage for a week, then see what it reveals about the culture of our household.
  • Use tree rings to establish dates of artifacts.
  • Create a scale drawing of objects in a landscape using a string grid and compass to simulate the method archaeologists use to map artifacts in situ.
  • Make a timeline of cultural groups, locations, building styles, and artifacts.
  • Weave Basketmaker-style baskets.

  • Make pottery and do a pit firing.

Language Arts

We will supplement class activities and lectures with readings, including selections from Craig Child's House of Rain.  Students created travel journals, combining reflective writing with sketching and more formal archaeological documentation.

Field Work

In addition to our nine-day trip to the Mesa Verde area, we visited Scott Lehman (Emi's dad) at CU to learn how researchers use carbon-14 dating to age artifacts.

Flintknapping with Jakob Sedig

On May 5, Jakob Sedig presented his research on stone tools and helped us try our hand at flintknapping.  Having the right material really helps.  Also practice.

We visited the CU Museum of Natural History to see the Earl Morris collection of artifacts from the Mesa Verde region. 

Travel Logistics

We departed Monday, May 9  and returned Tuesday, May 17 in the late afternoon.  We camped the first night at the Great Sand Dunes, then settled into our base camp at Mancos State Park.  We  spent  two days at Mesa Verde National Park, a day at the Anasazi Heritage Center in Dolores, and another day at the Ute Mountain Tribal Park.  On our way home, we visited Chimney Rock near Pagosa Springs.

See more photos from Kallan


Students will keep journals throughout the class to document their learning.  Join us on Friday, May 20 at 5:30pm for the Reflection on Learning in which all Watershed students will share highlights of their adventures and learning from the five May Term courses.