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Myles Miller – Five Millennia of Living on the Landscapes of the Jornada Mogollon Region of Southern New Mexico and West Texas

July 19, 2021 @ 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm MST


Four decades of archaeological research in the Jornada Mogollon region of southern New Mexico and far west Texas has revealed a rich record of past lifeways. Due to its marginal location and misperception that the archaeology of the region consists mainly of non-architectural hunter-gatherer sites, the prehistory of the region is often viewed as peripheral to developments in better-known and more archeologically visible culture areas of the US Southwest and Mexican Northwest (SW/NW).  Recent research has negated such outdated views, and the Jornada region can now be considered an important part of the greater SW/NW.  Archeological sites ranging in age from the Archaic to Historic period are well-represented, and among these periods are site types including shrine caves, pithouse villages, pueblos, and Spanish missions.  Evidence of ritual behavior and past beliefs has been identified through symbols and motifs inscribed or painted on rock art panels, in ritual features in pueblo rooms, in the construction of shrines, and even large agave baking pits.  Studies of Archaic and Jornada-style rock art have provided insights into complex and sophisticated beliefs and how past inhabitants engaged with sacred landscapes and landscape features.  For much of the prehistoric sequence of the past 5,000 years, we can now link broad patterns of prehistoric settlement adaptations and social change to the iconography inscribed and painted on rock faces, ceramics, and other items.  Recent discoveries in southeastern New Mexico at the eastern margins of the Jornada region will also be presented.



Myles Miller—Myles Miller has been professionally involved with the prehistory of the Jornada Mogollon and Trans-Pecos regions since returning to El Paso upon completion of graduate school in 1983. For the past 37 years he has conducted research throughout the region and has participated in numerous excavations of prehistoric and historic Native American settlements in west Texas, southern New Mexico, and southeastern Arizona. His current research interests involve the relationships between social organization, ritual, placemaking on the landscape, and ceramic and rock art iconography in the Jornada region. He presently serves as a Principal Investigator with Versar (formerly Geo-Marine, Inc.) and supervises archaeological projects on lands administered by Fort Bliss Military Reservation, the Bureau of Land Managements, and other state and federal agencies.


Suggested Readings

For the Archaic Period: 

2018 Myles Miller.  Archaic Transitions and Transformations in the Jornada Mogollon Region.  In The Archaic Southwest: Foragers in an Arid Land, edited by Bradley J. Vierra, pp. 119-144.  University of Utah Press, Salt Lake City. 

General overview of Jornada prehistory and early history: 

2004  Myles Miller and Nancy A. Kenmotsu.  Prehistory of the Eastern Trans-Pecos and Jornada Mogollon Regions of West Texas and Southern New Mexico.  In The Prehistory of Texas, edited by T.K. Perttula, pp. 205-265.  Texas A&M University Press, College Station.

Overview of rock art research in southern New Mexico: 

2019 Myles Miller, Lawrence L. Loendorf, Tim Graves, and Mark Willis.  Landscapes of Stone and Paint:  Documentation and Analysis of 21 Rock Art Sites in Southeastern New Mexico.  Available from the Bureau of Land Management, Carlsbad Field Office, Carlsbad, New Mexico.


July 19, 2021
7:00 pm - 8:30 pm MST
Event Category:


Paul Minnis