An Old Horseshoe and a Cactus in the Leg

Feb 6, 2010 Leave a Comment

So, I said I was going to write about my experience in para-arch training sometime this week, and... it's still this week, so I win!

Let me tell you, it wasn't as cool as it was last time.  Actually, it was kinda cold.  We didn't even go the last day because of the rain.  Apparently rain and very expensive metal detectors don't mix.  Which means I'm going back to finish up one day in March.  I don't really mind, because it's better than the office, for sure, but it is a two hour drive.  For one day of training.  Pointless?  Maybe.

Anyway, it was pretty interesting.  We learned quite a bit about the Apaches, which we didn't focus on so much in the Arizona training.  The Apaches are a little tricky to study because they're mostly nomadic and don't leave a lot of evidence of their lifestyles behind.  They also used metal a lot.  In fact, they used to cut up telegraph wires to make bracelets, which they used as money.  Five would get you a horse, and seven would get you a wife.  (All the women in the room were thrilled by this fact)

Enter metal detectors.  The archaeologist on the Black Range is actually an expert in metal detector use and has even written a manual on the use of metal detectors in archaeology for some of the companies.  On Wednesday, we got to try them out for ourselves.  We went to a fight scene that occurred between an Apache leader, Victorio, and a group of Indian scouts.  We were looking for bullet casings used in the fight.  I worked in a group with two other soil scientists who I map with during the field season.  As a group, we found a rusty tin can, a smashed modern bullet, and half of a horseshoe.

Using the metal detector was ok.  It was the wrong length for my arm, and it was pretty heavy and awkward to carry while climbing up a rocky cliff.  Oh, and after a while, the batteries went dead, so we carried it up there for nothing.

Climbing up the cliff was a bit difficult because it was highly infested with prickly pear cactus.  I was walking around up there and my leg really hurt, so I rolled up my pants, and there was a large spike lodged into my thigh.  Cactus needles are really fun to take out of your skin because they like to stay stuck in there when you try to pull them out.

But going up there was worth it, for a couple reasons.  For one thing, there was a whole bunch of bullet casings at the top, which was cool.  But what I really thought was interesting was all the fossils.  The whole slope was made up of fossiliferous limestone.  It was really cool.  I would have taken a picture for you, except I was somehow incapable of carrying a camera and a metal detector at the same time.  So you'll just have to take my word for it.

I do have some pictures, but they don't have much to do with the topic of this post, so I will save them for another day.

3 comments »

  • carma said:  

    This is incredibly interesting!! My husband and son would have been in heaven going around with the metal detectors...

    BTW, totally cracked up at your "workdom" comment. I spent most of my week there as well. And it sure wasn't blissful ;-)

  • tattytiara said:  

    I have always wanted to play w... conduct serious archeological research with a metal detector! I also geek out in a huge way for fossils. Sounds like a very cool day, aside from the getting stabbed in the leg by vicious plants part.

  • Chloe said:  

    WOW! A metal detector! I've never seen one! It sounds cool!
    Huh... but I'm sorry about cactus... How is your leg?
    Hope you're better!

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