Earthwatch Scientist, Kari Schleher

Kari Schleher, Ph.D.

Laboratory Manager

 

How does citizen science support your research?

Citizen science is fundamental to our research at Crow Canyon. Working alongside our archaeologists, citizen scientists help us collect archaeological data that we use to better understand life in the past. From excavating in an ancient pit structure to studying pottery in the lab, our Citizen Scientists contribute to all of the research that we do.

What do you enjoy most/what is most interesting about researching ancestral Pueblo communities?

I feel very lucky to be able to work on ancestral Pueblo archaeological sites in the Four Corners region of the United States. Ancestral Pueblo archaeological sites are so important, not only for what we can learn about the past by studying them, but because of the connections that modern descendant communities have with these sites. Many Native American groups living in the southwestern United States today are the direct descendants of the people that lived in these places in the past. My personal love is ancestral Pueblo pottery. This pottery, in addition to be really beautiful, can tell us a lot about the people who made it. The materials they selected can tell us about how they used their environment, the designs they painted on the pots can tell us what they found aesthetically pleasing, and finding pottery from distant locales on sites we are studying can tell us how widely the residents were connected across the region. 

What is one of your favorite moments in the field?

Since we are already talking about my love of pottery, I’ll tell you a pottery-related story. I was excavating in a pit structure that had been filled with all the debris of daily life (often called a midden). As I excavated, I noticed some similarities in the designs on pottery sherds I was uncovering. I was in this particular structure for a number of days and each day, I’d find a few sherd that had a similar design. As I got closer to the floor of the structure, I decided to pull the bags from the different excavation levels (I’d excavated about 6 levels at this point) and look for sherds with this same design to see if they were from the same pottery bowl. As I did this (of course, keeping track of which bags the sherds should be returned to), I was slowly able to assemble an almost complete, beautiful black-on-white painted bowl. It was only missing one small sherd! The photo of this reconstructed bowl now decorates my office and makes me remember the things that can come together in the end from a few broken pieces of pottery.

Education
  • Ph.D. Anthropology, University of New Mexico
  • M.A. Anthropology, University of New Mexico
  • B.A. Anthropology, University of Arizona
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