Bison skulls. AD 1450–1500. Garnsey site, Chaves County, New Mexico. North American Archaeology, UMMA Expedition. UMMAA 83209.

Museum curator John Speth excavated the Garnsey site in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The site, which is located in a dry wash in the eastern Pecos Valley of Chaves County in southeastern New Mexico, consists of several concentrations of bison remains and flake tools. The concentrations indicate that on multiple occasions, hunters surrounded or ambushed small groups of bison and butchered them in the wash. Careful analysis of the bison remains has demonstrated that, unlike most late prehistoric bison kills, the Garnsey kills occurred in the spring and the hunters focused on male animals. During this time of year, pregnant or nursing females would have been nutritionally stressed and their meat would have been very lean, whereas meat from the males would have plenty of fat. Meat was processed at the kill site and then transported to nearby settlements, from where it was likely traded for agricultural products from pueblo communities to the west. In this way, the Garnsey site appears to have been part of an elaborate network of economic and social relations and interactions between Plains and Puebloan peoples in the late prehistoric period.

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In honor of the University of Michigan’s 2017 bicentennial, we are celebrating the remarkable archaeological and ethnographic collections and rich legacy of research and teaching at the Museum of Anthropological Archaeology by posting one entry a day for 200 days. The entries will highlight objects from the collections, museum personalities, and UMMAA expeditions. The Kelsey Museum of Archaeology is also posting each day for 200 days on Twitter and Facebook (follow along at #KMA200). After the last post, an exhibition on two centuries of archaeology at U-M opens at the Kelsey. Visit the exhibit—a joint project of the UMMAA and the Kelsey—from October 18, 2017 to May 27, 2018.