The Archaeologist’s recipe for a Lasting Glow


I was asked to submit a recipe for the FUZE.SW food + folklore conference, taking place on Museum Hill September 12–14. I’m an archaeologist, not a chef, so I thought I’d share my professional secret for keeping that youthful glow you so often see on archaeologists. For a truly authentic experience, be sure to turn off any air conditioning at least three days in advance—room temperature should be around 90 degrees Fahrenheit.

Authentic Chaco Canyon Exfoliating Treatment

5 lb block of sandstone

½ cup small twigs of your choice

½ cup pollen—should include herbes de Chaco: sage, amaranth, chenopodium—don’t be afraid to experiment!

¼ cup ants—seed harvester or fire ants provide the most authentic experience

Optional: add minced crockery to taste

Note: for a tropical experience, add a pinch of chocolate and a soupçon of finely ground macaw feathers.

1. Grate block of sandstone into large mixing bowl. Do not use pregrated sand as this is too rounded to have the proper effect. Make sure all grated sand is equivalent in size. Alternatively, you may put sandstone in sieve under running faucet and wait 200–300 years for erosion to do the work for you. Be sure sand is completely dry before proceeding to next step.

2. Add all other dry ingredients to mixing bowl and mix thoroughly with your hands.

3. Spread completely combined mixture onto flat surface and allow to rest for at least one hour at room temperature. Try not to let the ants escape.

4. Place a chair on one side of mixture and a strong fan on the other. Face the fan so that you are looking straight into it and turn it on to roughly the speed of canyon winds in spring (50 mph is a good starting point for the novice). Be sure to close your eyes and breathe deeply. The ants may bite, but that’s an important part of the experience—those itchy red welts will go away in a week or so, leaving your skin clean and clear.

5. Rinse. Repeat. You may repeat for up to 10 hours.

6. Enjoy! I can guarantee your friends will want to know how you got that archaeologist’s glow.

A Distinguished Professor of Anthropology at the University of New Mexico, Patricia L. Crown, PhD, attributes the fact that she looks much older than she really is to a lifetime of sun ’n sand on archaeological projects throughout New Mexico and Arizona. When she isn’t in the field, she conducts research on chocolate exchange in the American Southwest. Her books include Women and Men in the Prehispanic Southwest: Gendered Perspectives on Labor, Power and Prestige in the American Southwest (Santa Fe: School of American Research Press, 2000). Her essay “Chocolate Consumption and Cuisine from Chaco to Colonial New Mexico” appeared in the winter 2012 issue of El Palacio.