Friday, July 17, 2009

Life in Lubbock, Texas

Lubbock is known for Texas Tech University's beautiful campus and, since 2007, the Susan Polgar Institute for Chess Excellence (SPICE), which is part of Texas Tech. I understand that since SPICE began functioning, Texas has moved into the #1 spot for states in the United States with USCF registered chess players, thanks to its hosting of numerous new scholastic and open tournaments. (More information about SPICE and chess scholarships). And then, there is the exciting new SPICE Invitational, where up-and-coming chessplayers are invited to participate in a tournament with a chance to earn IM and GM norms, and the prestigious SPICE Cup, which started in 2007 and has grown in popularity and ELO rating since it's inaugural year! (2009 information) By popular demand, 2009 will host two sections of players for the first time! But Lubbock isn't just a college and chess town. It is also the home to one of the premiere Paleo-Indian archaeological sites in the United States. Story at The Daily Toreador Lubbock Lake Landmark offers ancient insight, historic findings Hannah Boen Issue date: 7/17/09 Section: La Vida Every July since the 1970s, university students from across the globe have gathered in the same area to catch a glimpse of human life 12,000 years ago. The Lubbock Lake Landmark is the location of a late Paleo-Indian site that continuously has been excavated since its discovery during the Great Depression. Katherine Ehlers, a graduate research assistant from Midland, has been visiting the site each July for six years to discover and study pieces of history. "The more we can learn about how people live and adapt, the better," said Ehlers, the site's crew chief. "These things are relevant to today if we can study the trends of people thousands of years ago." Ehlers has spent much of her time as an undergraduate and graduate student at Texas Tech doing regional research in the Caprock area and has the artifacts to prove it. Halfway into this year's dig, her group has found Bison bone and some stone tools, clues into what life was like for humans thousands of years ago. "I think it's neat that people have been hanging out in Lubbock for that long," she said, "and we're still here." Disa Wiberg is an osteology masters student from Lund University in Sweden, and she is spending six weeks of her summer in Lubbock to be part of Ehlers' crew. "It's a good experience," she said. "You get responsibility, and you get to learn about every aspect of archeology." Wiberg and a handful of other students spend each day digging and studying, and each night in tents near the dig site. The students work, eat, sleep and shower outdoors. Although she admitted the West Texas heat was unpleasant, this is her second year to visit this dig site, and said it would probably not be her last. "I come here partly for the experience," she said, "and partly for the great people." Nicole Cotto, a sophomore anthropology major from Loyola University in Chicago, said she has enjoyed spending time with a diverse group of students who share her interests, however, was hesitant about spending six weeks of her summer in Lubbock. "Texas seemed kind of far," she said, "and I thought, 'What the heck? Lubbock? What is in Lubbock?'" Cotto said this is her first time to work on a dig site and has enjoyed the experience and the history the site has to offer. Both students believe they are working on a site that is providing valuable experience in their respective fields. Lubbock Lake Landmark education program manager, Susan Rowe, said the site has so much history to offer, students have only made a small dent in researching the area since they began digging more than 30 years ago. In the past three decades, full skeletons have been found on site of an ancient bison, a Columbian mammoth, a giant armadillo and a giant short-faced bear. Although the dig site attracts attention from students worldwide, Rowe said it is a good opportunity for Tech students as well. "I would suggest anyone looking for field experience with archeology or anthropology look here first," she said. Lubbock Lake Landmark plans to continue to study anything they can find on their historical site, she said, in order to learn the interactions and environments of the first Lubbock residents. Students interested in volunteer opportunities at the dig site may visit for more information.

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