Anthropology •  Archaeology and Southwest

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Troweling Through Time: The First Century of Mesa Verdean Archaeology

Florence C. Lister

There is scarcely a tract on the Colorado Plateau that does not have evidence of human occupation. Many of the richest remains have been found in the Mesa Verde Province, which covers southwestern Colorado and adjacent parts of New Mexico and Utah.
The archaeology of the north edge of the Southwest began in 1849 with the discovery of Chaco Canyon by the U.S. Army Corps of Topographical Engineers. By the end of the nineteenth century the form of archaeology known as pot hunting was well under way. In Troweling Through Time, Florence Lister tells the story of the archaeology of the area.
In 1907 Edgar Hewett, director of the School of American Research, recruited three Harvard undergraduates to survey the ruins. These novices, Sylvanus Morley, Alfred Kidder, and John Gould Fletcher, were followed by other field workers whose names are just as legendary today. Lister explains what these people found and what it meant. She traces the story through the twentieth century, during which time archaeology became a science and women gained acceptance in the profession. The story goes through the work of the Crow Canyon Archaeological Center, which has taken the study of the Southwest beyond archaeology, inviting representatives of the region's modern tribes to offer their perspectives on the past. Lister's presentation will be of interest to professional and amateur archaeologists, tourists, and historians.


Florence C. Lister is a distinguished archaeologist and historian of archaeology who lives in Mancos, Colorado.


"Lister is an archaeologist, an expert on ceramics and a historian of archaeology who writes with verve, sophistication, grace and a wry sense of humor. . . Florence Lister paints the prehistoric ast with a firm, authoritative brush. Troweling Through Time represents public archaeology at its best."


Durango Herald

"Distinguished archaeologist and historian of archaeology Florence Lister has produced a delightful history of this era that is full of anecdotes and humor. . . Lister weaves a tale of inquiry and adventure in one of the world's most dramatic and interesting archaeological regions."


American Archaeology Magazine

"Archaeology can be a dry subject, but not when the writer is Florence C. Lister. . . The author provides a "Pictoral Panorama" of 72 black-and-white photos of the archaeologists and Mesa Vede ruins from 1874 to 2002, which, along with the lively text, make this book an interesting and valuable contribution to both archaeologists and general readers."


The Santa Fe New Mexican

"Virtually all of the famous Southwestern archaeologists worked at one time or another at Mesa Verde. The book details the time when women gained acceptance into the profession. . . The book will be of interest to professional and amatuer archaeologists, tourists and historians."


New Mexico Magazine

"One of the more enjoyable aspects of this book is Lister's easy-going storytelling style, peppered with occasional bursts of wry or outright humor, which makes this book a fun and informative read."


SMRC Revista

"The book is a fun read and especially helpful to those who may be struggling with the conceptual difference between Basketmaker II and Pueblo II."


Southwest BookViews

"For anyone interested in Southwestern archaeology, Trowelling Through Time is a treasure trove of information."


Roundup Magazine

" Troweling Through Time takes the armchair reader on a most enjoyable trip through the "first century of Mesa Verdean archaeology. . . Florence should be saluted for preserving history and making it come alive."


Journal of Arizona History

"Stamina, perseverance, and intellectual curiosity. Those are Florence Lister's requirements for a successful archaeologist--standards she has herself met time and again for more than sixty years. ( Troweling Through Time) is a valuable non-technical account of the history of archaeology."


Cortez Journal

"Lister knows the history of which she writes - the story of those who explore the stories of the area's ancient residents. It shows in Troweling Through Time. The book is certainly first and foremost a historical text - detailed, chronological, footnoted, and indexed. But in execution, it is a story, beautifully and lovingly told."


The Durango Telegraph

"( Troweling Through Time) provides a masterful story about a fascinating region told with aplomb and style by Florence Lister."


Western Historical Quarterly

6 x 9 in. 352 pages 73 halftones