Wendy Sutton

Wendy at the Chimney Rock Great House

Profile: Dr.Wendy Sutton is the Pagosa District Archaeologist for San Juan National Forest, with particular responsibility for the Chimney Rock Archaeological Area.  She has worked in archaeology for over 25 years, working in multiple regions within North America and the Middle East. In her career she has worked in contract archaeology, and as federal archaeologist for the Bureau of Land Management and the Forest Service; she has taught at multiple colleges and universities, and has designed and taught programs in archaeology education in the public schools. She received bachelor’s degrees in Anthropology and Mesopotamian Art & Archaeology from the University of California, Berkeley, and holds an M.A. and Ph.D. in Anthropology from Columbia University. Past honors include being a Mellon Scholar and Visiting Scholar at the George Frison Archaeological Institute (University of Wyoming).

presentation: “Confessions from the Mainstream”: The Development of Archaeological Thought, Site Management, and Archaeoastronomy”

abstract: It is only recently that science, religion, and history have separated. Throughout most of history (and prehistory) there was no dichotomy between religion and science. Indeed, early scientific knowledge and observations were probably made, maintained, recorded and passed down by community leaders with religious responsibilities. Today we have more divisions within the historical and scientific community.  Modern archaeologists have backgrounds in a variety of fields including history, classics, and anthropology. Those studying Archaeoastronomy hail from diverse backgrounds, applying different approaches to their research based on their individual backgrounds and available data. Some of us have written records to consult, some do not. Although we may have different resources to work with, whether we work in the Ancient Near East, or the American Southwest, we have similar questions and management challenges. Working with archaeological sites where astronomical alignments have been recognized challenges us to bridge our modern constructs and disciplinary boundaries. Through an interdisciplinary approach to Archaeoastronomy we enrich our understanding of ancient astronomical knowledge and can best interpret these findings to the public.

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