Saturday, September 17, 2016

New Olla Comes to IVDM

-from Anne C Morgan, Head Curator

Manfred Knaak, Betsy Knaak, Anne Morgan with new olla
A new olla came to the Imperial Valley Desert Museum today!

The olla, a large ceramic vessel, was brought to the attention of Betsy Knaak, Executive Director of Anza-Borrego Desert Natural History Association, who worked with the donor and the Desert Museum to bring the olla back to the Imperial Valley from Arizona.

This afternoon she and her husband Manfred Knaak, anthropology professor at the Imperial Valley College, delivered the olla to the museum.  The olla was packed in Arizona and no one saw it before it made its journey. The unveiling came when it was unpacked - several visitors were lucky enough to be in the building when the Knaaks arrived and were invited to join. 
Manfred Knaak, Imperial Valley College archaeology professor

Several ollas have come to the museum through families in the last year. Often the ollas were taken out of the desert years ago by someones grandparents. Today, it is not legal to remove artifacts from federal lands. We have been thrilled to work with families to bring the ollas back to where they can be seen by the public.

The new olla will be accessioned into the Museum's collection, carefully photographed, measured, and recorded. Notes will be made of specific features, like the pitch or tar repair along the rim where it was cracked but repaired to continue using.

Copy of original magazine that inspired Larrabee to search for gold
Donated by David Larrabee, the olla had been found by his father Robert over fifty years ago somewhere in the "Borrego Desert".  Robert and his friends, inspired by a magazine article in True West, went in search of gold.  While they never found any, Robert did find this olla, "the only treasure the Borrego Desert was to share with me."  Now, thanks to the generosity of David Larrabee and his family, the olla will be shared with the public in the Museum's Visible Storage exhibit, and may teach researchers something new about the story of people and the desert.


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