Sonderman, Elanor Marie (2018-07). Re-analysis of Conejo Shelter: A Legacy Archaeological Collection from the Amistad Reservoir Area, Texas. Doctoral Dissertation. Thesis uri icon


  • Although the critical importance and research potential of archaeological collections have long been recognized, care and management of these collections and research within them have not always been at the forefront of the discipline's overall goals. While there have been several successive waves of concern regarding the proper curation (or lack thereof) of archaeological materials, response to these concerns has been limited primarily to improving curatorial facilities and the State laws and regulations that control them. Updates to the physical conditions of archaeological collections are both necessary and valuable, but they are not the only potential solution. This dissertation adds to the growing body of literature regarding current issues within the field of archaeological materials curation and proposes that (1) building research projects using existing archaeological collections is a viable path to mitigating the curation crisis and (2) encouraging this type of research is part of our ethical obligation to protect and preserve archaeological resources. Within this framework, I am examining a collection of archaeological materials from Conejo Shelter, a dry rockshelter in west Texas. Despite the remarkable preservation of perishable artifacts recovered from the site and its significance for understanding the pre-Columbian occupants of the Lower Pecos region of Texas, Conejo Shelter has never been fully reported. Through an analysis of this collection, I examine chronological change and cultural adaptation in the Amistad area, comparing existing knowledge to new information gleaned from the collection. This analysis will focus primarily on a theoretical model of cultural continuity or stasis, which has been broadly applied to the Lower Pecos. This model was developed following observations of limited changes in lithic technology and diet. Researchers of the Lower Pecos typically suggest that the observed technological and dietary stasis is due to the fact that the environment of the Lower Pecos has been fairly consistent throughout the last 6,000 years. Analysis of perishable artifacts has led to the development of another theoretical model, which suggests migration of populations and/or ideas by way of similar styles and manufacturing techniques between the Lower Pecos and Coahuila, on the Mexico side of the Rio Grande.

publication date

  • July 2018