This project will bring to light the complex prehistoric behaviors involved in obsidian procurement and technological organization, and help build a better understanding of changing human use in the Valles Caldera over the last 10,000 years. This goal will be realized through data recovery investigations at the obsidian quarries of the Valles Caldera, including the first excavations ever to be conducted at obsidian quarries in the Valles Caldera National Preserve. The program is designed to implement and evaluate a robust methodology for surface and subsurface quarry investigations that integrates analyses of obsidian technology, materials, and chronometry. The project will proceed iteratively, with annual assessment of outcomes and methodology, and adjustments applied adaptively. These investigations are part of a larger program to evaluate the methodology of obsidian sourcing and hydration dating, with the caldera serving as a laboratory for the improvement of obsidian analyses. The results obtained will be used to further the interpretation of ancient and recent human use and enjoyment of the Valles Caldera.
Meet the Scientists
University of New Mexico & Valles Caldera Trust
Anastasia Steffen is Adjunct Assistant Professor for the Department of Anthropology at the University of New Mexico, and Cultural Resources Coordinator for the Valles Caldera Trust. She has 22 years professional experience of archaeology in the Jemez Mountains. She received her M.A. in Anthropology in 1992 and her Ph.D. in 2005, studying “The Dome Fire Obsidian Study: Investigating the Interaction of Heat, Hydration, & Glass Geochemistry”, both also at the University of New Mexico. her research interests include interdisciplinary landscape-scale temporal studies; obsidian hydration dating and geochemical analyses; lithic technology and analysis; forest fire history and North American Prehistory. She has held a variety of Field Instructor, Teaching Assistant and Lecturer positions.