The Battalion. (College Station, Tex.) 1893-current, December 03, 1987, Image 6

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Page 6/The Battalion/Thursday, December 3, 1987
Cotton Bowl
Reserve Your Tuxedo Early
For New Years
Classic Black $39 a "
10% Discount ior students
Just Call Us '‘Col jos”
Park Place Plaza Texas Ave. S. at Southwest Pkwy.
Next to Winn Dixie College Station 693-0709
happy hour
Friday 2-6
movie rental
over 4,000 titles
Children’s 99$ Everyday • Adult Movies $2.49
$2 00 off
all LP’s and
cassettes $8.98 and up
all CD’s
$13.98 and up
all books
25% off
30% off all hardbacks
(excludes remainders
and sale books)
OPEN: Sun.-Thurs., 10*10 Fri. & Sat., 10*11
Culpepper Plaza, College Station 693-2619
Texas A&M University's
National Champions
Wool & Mohair Evaluation Team
Horse Judging Team
Livestock Judging Team
Meats Eavluation Team
Poultry Judging Team
A reception honoring these distinguished Aggies
will be hosted by the Department of Animal Sci
ence on Friday, December 4 at 3:00 p.m. in the
Atrium of the Kleburg Animal and Food Science
Archaeologist works to uncover
significance of ancient cultures
By Anne Neidinger
Discovering arrowheads and
other ancient artifacts while wan
dering around a farm pasture or
creek bank was not an uncommon
childhood occurence for Dr. Harry
Shafer, professor of anthropology at
Texas A&M.
While growing up in rural Texas
near Temple, Shafer had the free
dom to spend time at creeks and
river banks looking for and accumu
lating prehistoric materials. His dis
covery and excavation of a human
skeleton on a creek bank as a teen
ager resulted in a deeper under
standing of archaeology for him.
Shafer, who specializes in archae
ology, developed that fascination
into a commitment to discovering
and interpreting the ways of ancient
peoples. He excavates sites once in
habited by ancient cultures and ex
plains their significance through his
writings. He uses his experience to
help educate students at A&M about
When he donated the skeleton he
found to the Strecker Museum at
Baylor University, Shafer was in
vited by museum officials to join the
Central Texas Archaeological So
ciety, an amateur advocational
group that often had professional
archaeologists speak at the meetings.
“I joined it and that’s where I met
my first professional archaeologists,”
he said. “I began to find out what ar
chaeology was all about and my in
terest went far beyond collecting ar
tifacts. I began to accumulate and
cultivate a more specific interest.”
Although this interest intensified,
Shafer did not immediately pursue a
degree in anthropology. Instead he
majored in business at Temple Ju
nior College and later managed a
young men’s department in a store.
While working in Austin for the
Texas Highway Department, Shafer
was able to maintain correspondence
and form friendships with profes
sional archaeologists there; and by
this time, he had joined the state ar
chaeological society.
In 1962, he was offered and ac
cepted a job working with the ar
chaeological research program at
the University of Texas as a field
“That let me know I wanted to
pursue archaeology as a career,” he
said. “That’s when I went back to
Shafer said working part time
from 1962 to 1972 at the research
program while attending UT helped
him get experience in the field and
in writing technical reports.
Dr. Vaughn M. Bryant, professor
and department head of anthropol
ogy at A&M, offered Shafer a one-
year visiting position at A&M in
1972, which he accepted. After fin
ishing his dissertation in 1973, he
took ajob as a professor at A&M and
has been here ever since.
“I didn’t really hesitate that much
when offered the position, because I
wanted to get involved with an aca
demic program and I knew that I
could continue my research here,”
he said.
Shafer said the anthropology de
partment at A&M was still in its in
fancy, and he wanted to get involved
with building the program.
“I liked it over here,” he said. “I
was given a lot of freedom to de
velop my own interests and to be a
part of building a program that grew
from a department that offers a
bachelor’s degree ... to one that of
fers a doctorate.
“So we’ve gone from nothing
really to a full-fledged department
in liberal arts. It’s been fun to be a
part of that building process.”
Photo by Sam B. Myers
Dr. Harry Shafer, A&M professor of anthropology, studies some artifacts.
One way Shafer has contributed
to the growth of the department is
through his involvement in various
anthropological field projects that
have brought recognition to A&M.
Shafer has participated in archae
ological digs such as the Hinds Cave
project in Southwest Texas, the
Mimbres Indian dig in southwestern
New Mexico and the Maya Indian
excavation at Colha, Belize, in Cen
tral America.
Shafer said the Hinds Cave pro
ject in 1974-1977, which Bryant also
participated in, was supported by
the National Science Foundation
and helped in the development of
the anthropology department at
“It was one of the most important
projects in terms of building na
tional awareness of a program that
we’ve ever done,” he said.
The Hinds Cave project was quite
'sical, Shafer said. Participants
lad to camp on a remote limestone
plateau, ana the hike down and back
to the cave every day was a difficult
“We either shaped up or shipped
out,” he said. “But we had to do it. It
was the only way we could carry it
through and get the information we
The project site, which two stu
dent field schools helped at in 1975
and 1976, was “beautifully preser
ved,” he said. The organic materials
in it were preserved for about 9,000
years, he said, and included sandals,
bits of matting, netting and dry
feces, which were to be studied for
dietary profiles.
“The Hinds Cave project was one
of the most important learning ex
periences I’ve ever had in archaeo
logy, because I was working with col
leagues who had expertise in other
fields, such as zoology or ecology,”
he said. “You learn a lot about peo
ple adapting to particular environ
ments in particular circumstances.”
The Mimbres Indian project at
the NAN Ranch in southwestern
New Mexico was “the most character
building project I’ve ever been on,”
Shafer said.
The project, going on for the past
10 summers and involving a field
school, is supported by A&M, the
Federation of Aggie Mothers Clubs,
Earthwatch and the National Geo
graphic Society. The Mimbres
pueblo, almost 2,000 years old, con
tains an abundance of ceramic art
made by the people.
Shafer said a person running a
field school must take into account
departmental goals, student needs
and one’s personal research gains.
“The Hinds Cave project and the
NAN have served these goals well,”
he said.
Another project, the ancient Maya
Indian site in Belize, increased A&M
visibility in terms of international in
volvement, Shafer said. From 1979
until last spring, Shafer has been in
volved in stone tool specialization at
the site in Colha, Belize. He said the
Maya exploited raw materials there
and specialized in the production of
chip stone tools.
“That particular project has been
challenging because it requires an
adaptation to third-world bu
reaucracy,” he said.
The Colha project, which in
cluded graduate students participat
ing in thesis research, was difficult
because it was situated in a jungle
and supplies had to be maintained
for a two- to three-month period,
which was expensive, Shafer said.
The dig involved other institu
tions such as UT at Austin, UT at
San Antonio, the University of
Pennsylvania and the University of
New Mexico, which added to depart
mental recognition at A&M, he said.
“It was an interesting experience,
because it now helps me to better de
sign projects in foreign countries for
students because I know a lot of the
bureacracy you have to go through,”
he said. “Emotionally, it’s a lot easier
to work in the United States.”
Shafer managed to participate in
projects and teach at A&M by travel
ing back and forth at different times
during the year. In 1980, he taught a
two-course field program for a se
mester at the Colha site.
He also has worked on about 100
small projects in Texas and southern
New Mexico when he worked as a
research archaeologist in Austin. It
was by working there that he was
able to travel throughout Texas and
see a lot of archaeology, he said.
With that experience and knowl
edge, along with the information
from Hinds Cave, Shafer wrote the
book “Ancient Texans,” which was
published this year and is about the
rock art and ancient people of the
lower Pecos River. The rock art gives
insights into the people’s belief sys
tems and curing and healing rituals,
he said.
Shafer said the rock art is a “tea
ser” to get people to read the book
and learn more about the people
who produced the art. Americans do
not have an identity to the past, he
said, which is an important legacy.
The book, Shafer’s first, supports
an exhibit at the Witte Museum in
San Antonio, and is about the hunt
ing and gathering people.
“People are attracted to the rock
art because it’s visual and assumes a
certain degree of awesomeness be
cause it’s so old,” he said. “Yet they
don’t look beyond that to the people
who produced it. If the general pub
lic can learn to respect the people
who produced it, particularly in that
area of West Texas, maybe they will
make an effort to conserve their ar
chaeological past.”
Shafer’s accomplishments are nu
merous, but he said his greatest suc
cess has been cultivating friendships
and working with the staff he has
been with over the years and seeing
them become excited about, the same
things as he.
“It’s the personal experiences that
have enriched my life,” he said.
“Working in field with people, you
really get to know who they are and
you see them get to know them
selves. You always see people grow
up out there.”
Shafer hopes to complete a book
about the Mimbres Indians and the
NAN Ranch project within two or
three years. He has written for over
100 technical publications and
chaired symposiums throughout his
career. He is also the adviser for the
Anthropology Society, a club in the
4r MSC Town Hall Presents
A Live Night Before a Dead Week
Tim Settimi and David Master
Friday, Dec. 4,1987 8 p.m.
, Rudder Theatre
Tickets $2 90
Available at MSC Box Office
Thurs. Dec. 3,8 p.m. till 12 at Flying Tomato.
Don’t miss your chance to win free Coors
Light Comedy Comando tickets, t-shirts &
hats. No purchase necessary
Call Battalion Classified 845-2611
Friday Dec. 4
Student I.D. SI OFF Before 9 p.m.