Topo map in hand. Sites plotted on map. Site cards (description of site) in hand. GPS in hand, and a very experienced survey crew. All things necessary to re-find sites recorded in 1972!
The area we are to survey for these 3 sites is flat and quite barren. Not quite the same as we are used to in the Tucson area. The creosote bush is smaller and grows further apart but then this desert is almost 1000 feet below the desert area we are used to. It is also hotter during the summer. It has been reported that the desert surface during the summer can reach 165° F.
We are at ground zero according to the UTMS/GPS. Nothing here. Land looks sheet washed and has areas of deep erosion. Hmm - there should be something here in the eroded areas. Not a sherd or lithic! Has the site been buried since it was first recorded in 1972? We have had 2 major flooding situations. But something is usually on the surface and in the eroded area! Nada.
Same scenario. Nada.
We survey great distances around the two illusive sites that are supposed to be quite close to each other. Another eroded area examined and it has sherds, lithics and a roasting pit. Is this the first site? Heck it is only about 400 meters off the official plotting!
We get the UTMs and record it on the map. Then do a quick write up of the artifacts. Hmm.
Site map shows the site about ¼ mile SW of a huge cattle tank. We are at the cattle tank and there are sherds galore at the NORTH side! This area matches the description on the site card. There is nothing at the SW area. Is the site really on the north side?
The original recorders were here in August, 1972. Did they suffer from the desert heat and miss plot the sites? Or????
This situation reminds me of what a Ute girl told me years ago when we were trying to find a site we had recorded just the day before and now couldn’t find.
She said, “Our ancestors come and go. Sometimes they show up for you, other times they go into hiding.”