Bal Gangadhar Tilakan, the legendary Indian nationalist, teacher, social reformer, lawyer and independence activist wrote in The Arctic Home in the Vedas: “The geologist takes up the history of the earth at the point where the archaeologist leaves it, and carries it further back into remote antiquity.”
Now…. I am not one to take exception with Bal Gangadhar Tilaken and to what he said, after all he is a great historical figure…however in the field of geo-archaeology the geologist takes up looking at various cultures and civilizations to unravel and understand the role that natural resources, i.e., geology, geomorphology, climate, etc., played a part in the sustainable development choices and in the daily lives of prehistoric cultures.
Before I took up geology as my true chosen profession and passion I was very interested in archaeology and minored in the subject in undergraduate school. I worked several summers in the field doing various geo-archaeological studies for the Paleo-Indian Institute at Eastern New Mexico University under the tutelage of my mentor and friend Fred Nials. Most of this work was along the Rio Puerco de la Este, in Central New Mexico where there were hundreds of Anasazi (“The Ancient Ones”) ruins. And I spent the summer between my undergrad work and grad school as the Site Geologist at Salmon Ruins, a Chaco ruin in Northwest, New Mexico. I then began doing petrographic analyses of the tempering material used in pre-historic Indian pottery and helped support my way through undergraduate and graduate school doing this for the Cultural Resources Management Division and NMSU and for the Centennial Museum at UTEP.
Before all this school...my interest in archaeology was largely driven by the fact that I grew up in Clovis, New Mexico just a few miles from the Blackwater Draw site where spear points of Alibates flint was found embedded in skeletons of Mammoths. I actually worked there for one semester before I was invited by the President of the United States to join in a little soiree he had going on in SE Asia (Vietnam). Upon return from this interesting hiatus in my life I returned to my studies and found geology a good addition to my interest in archeology and I developed a lifelong passion for geology eventually majoring in geology.
Anyway, a good example of how geology is used is in studying the resources used by the earliest paleo-indians for their tools, in particular the material used for spear points.
The rest of this post is dedicated to looking at some of the beautiful Alibates flint as well as the Edwards Limestone Cherts (the same Edwards Limestones that the ammonites in my post come from).