GAAS November speaker David Smith will discuss Mesoamerican caves

Submitted by Allen Vegotsky (Greater Atlanta Archaeological Society)

The next GAAS (Greater Atlanta Archaeological Society) meeting will be, as usual, on the second Tuesday of the month (November 8th, 2011). The meeting will be at the Fernbank Museum of Natural History located on Clifton Road (just north of Ponce de Leon) and the talk will begin at 7:30 PM.

The November speaker is David Smith, a founding member of GAAS, and a life-long avocational archaeologist. David grew up in South Georgia in the Brunswick area and learned archaeology almost through osmosis, walking the fields and beaches of the area with his father who shared his interests from the time David was a very small child. A cousin was a student and protégé of A.R. Kelly, legendary Georgia archaeologist. David reports memories of his cousin discussing archaeology when Dr. Kelly came to the coastal area for field work.

From an early age he walked stream banks, cleared fields, and pine barrens looking for artifacts. Over a lifetime of archaeological interest, he has had the opportunity to work with both professional and dedicated avocational archaeologists in the Southeast and in Mexico. The GAAS excavations under Dave Chase’s supervision were especially instructive. He worked at Huamelultan in Mexico with Marcus Winter. In addition to having a great interest in lithics, he has more recently become interested in Swift Creek designs and their similarity to Mesoamerican motifs. He has explored this interconnectedness; he shared his observations and thoughts with GAAS members in past newsletters.

Smith’s lecture will discuss caves in Mesoamerica have always had ritual, supernatural, and mystical connotations—rich sources of cultural material. David visited a remote area of the state of Oaxaco in Mexico where he and a friend video-taped the contents of a cave in the culturally and geographically inaccessible Mazateca Indian area. The site, known as Blade cave, is approximately 350 km southeast of Mexico City and was discovered by American spelunkers in 1985; it was undisturbed. Deposits—jade beads and carvings, speleothem beads, ceramic vessels, obsidian blades, shell and coral beads, faunal remains, and human skeletal remains—appear to have come from the pre-classic, early classic, and post-classic periods.

Janet Steele of the University of Texas has studied the cave and reported on her findings at the 1997 Society of Amercian Archaeology Convention in Nashville, Tennessee. David met his wife Lucina, an archaeologist, in Mexico. She is also a member of GAAS.

A pre-meeting dinner with the speaker will begin at 5:30 PM at Athen’s Pizza. This restaurant is located on Clairmont Road, about a quarter mile north of the intersection with N. Decatur Road. Athen’s Pizza has in addition to Greek-style pizza, a full menu with a number of Greek and Italian entres.

Where to find it