Great Kiva (Structure 102)
This month, we’re reporting an intriguing discovery in the great kiva at the Dillard site.
At both ends of the north-south trench that bisects the great kiva, we have uncovered evidence of stone-and-mortar masonry that we think formed the upper wall of this large structure. The evidence consists of a jumble of large (85 X 20 cm), unshaped sandstone rocks in a pinkish beige clay—materials that appear to have slumped from their original locations, but that retain enough of their original configuration to suggest a wall at least five courses high.
|Is this evidence of a stone-and-mortar masonry wall? (The arrow points to what appears to be mortar).|
We realize that for readers familiar with the masonry walls of the much-later Pueblo III period—well-shaped stones stacked in neat horizontal courses—the jumble of rock in our trench may seem less than convincing. But within that area of slump are at least two large stones that are still mortared together with the distinctive clay described above (see photo). This discovery is truly surprising because wet-laid, stacked masonry construction is almost unheard of in ancestral Pueblo sites until approximately A.D. 850, or 200 years later than the Dillard Site. It’s a little premature to think about rewriting the textbooks, but suffice to say, we’re very excited about this find!
In the coming weeks, we will expand our excavations into the northwest quadrant of the great kiva, which should allow us to examine more of this early masonry construction.
In addition to our work in the great kiva, we are continuing our excavations in Structure 205, a pithouse located about 30 m southwest of the great kiva and one of the structures we plan to finish sampling this year. On the basis of augering tests, we know that the floor of the structure’s main chamber is about 80 cm below the ancient ground surface. This means that the upper portion of the structure stood aboveground, probably 1.20 m higher than the former ground surface.
As we remove collapsed roof-construction material from the pithouse depression, the true edge of the structure is becoming more apparent. We think it’s a bit smaller than the original “stain” led us to believe; the main chamber is probably about 5 by 5 m, and the antechamber, 4¼ m by 4 m. In a trench that cuts through the main chamber, we’ve found a small portion of the front wall and a possible bin. In addition, we found a large obsidian flake and a shaped bone (probably a pendant) near the floor.
To plan for excavation seasons ahead, Steve Copeland teamed up with Bill Volf from the National Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to conduct remote sensing over potential Basketmaker III pithouses in the wheat fields on property near the Dillard site. Using electrical resistivity equipment, Bill and Steve mapped an area measuring 180 m by 60 m and identified one probable habitation-size pit structure with possible activity areas around it. See previous article on remote sensing at the Dillard site. We thank Bill and the NRCS for all their help this year.
Thanks and Kudos
August turned out to be a multigenerational and fun-filled month. We were joined in the field by teachers taking part in the 2011 National Endowment for the Humanities educators institute (see article in this issue)—shortly thereafter, middle school students from the Central Bucks School District in Pennsylvania arrived. Starting in the middle of the month, Archaeology Research Program participants and three families taking part in Family Archaeology Week joined in excavations. Thanks to all for your help in investigating the increasingly fascinating Dillard site!