Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Dave Gregory

Dave Gregory died on Sunday. I worked with him many years ago, and while he was never a friend, I greatly admired his dedication to the field and the body of work he produced. He was one of those flawed geniuses that archaeology tends to attract - people who sometimes act in self-destructive ways, but who give so much more to the world than they take away. He was endlessly curious, endlessly fascinated by the past.

His major contributions include his work at Las Colinas, a large Hohokam site in the Phoenix basin. Environmental archaeologists will be particularly interested in his study of irrigation patterns. More recently, he was one of the most influential archaeologists studying the emergence of agricultural communities in the deserts of the U.S. Southwest. Excavations he ran at Los Pozos literally re-wrote books on early agriculture in North America.

Perhaps the most important legacy that Dave left to archaeology is the way he exemplified the critical role of CRM research in forwarding human knowledge about the past. Some PhD programs in anthropology denigrate the work done by contract companies. Even those programs that enter into partnerships with local firms are seldom giving their students an adequate education for what is, after all, the largest job market in archaeology. Dave Gregory, through his work at Desert Archaeology Inc., and the Center for Desert Archaeology, showed exactly how much archaeology owes to CRM. The research he did was exemplary, and no single archaeologist at any academic institution could hope to contribute as much to the increase of knowledge in our field. Each year, CRM projects add more data - and more thoughtful analysis - to the field than this nation's universities. It's time that more academic institutions take advantage of the wealth of expertise, data, and funding opportunities available through CRM.

I think Dave would have liked that.

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