Crisp blue skies characterized the weather throughout most of October, although a few days brought thick waves of much-needed rain rolling in from the west (for an incredible rainbow photo, see Crow Canyon's Facebook page). It was a beautiful month highlighted by cottonwoods turning auburn and gold—a fitting end to the first year of the Basketmaker Communities Project.
We started October with the help of 18 Archaeology Research Program alumni, and what a fantastic week it was. We completed an extraordinary amount of work across the Dillard site and wrapped up the week with a lovely get-together on Jane Dillard's famous porch. The following week, students from the Meadow Montessori School, our last excavation group of the year, were nearly kept from the field by torrential rain, but they were hardy enough to weather one stormy morning.
The Great Kiva
Collapsed masonry has now been exposed across the entire northwest quadrant of the great kiva (see map for locations of all structures). This is a huge accomplishment, given the size of the structure. Although artifacts were scarce in the thick, pinkish mortar surrounding the stones, we did find one quartz crystal. Another portion of this same collapsed wall was exposed in a 1-meter-wide trench at the southern end of the great kiva. Excavation in the trench exposed up to six courses of stone that had fallen into nearly the center of the structure, 4 meters away. Some of the stones are about 80 centimeters wide and would have required the effort of more than one person to carry them to the site. We are currently mapping each individual stone and recording its angle of repose.
Much progress was also made in Structure 205 this month. Both the antechamber and main chamber of this pithouse have been excavated to just 10 centimeters above the floor. For the last two weeks, we have been excavating through layers of collapsed roof and wall material consisting of a combination of dense, caliche-streaked clay, charcoal fragments, and a few shaped stones. Interestingly, four pieces of animal bone awls were recovered from this material, suggesting that awls may have been stashed in the rafters of the pithouse when it was abandoned.
Of course, any excavation would not be complete without a surprise. In early October, field intern Allison Hill was directed to finish off a 1-x-1-meter test unit in the "west midden," located south of the great kiva. At the base of the midden deposits, she did not find the expected bright red, culturally "sterile" silt that underlies the entire site. Instead, the sediment began to look more and more like structure fill, with clumps of clay and charcoal flecking. Sure enough, at 50 centimeters below the modern ground surface, she exposed the floor of a previously unaccounted-for pithouse, now referred to as Structure 212. There were no artifacts sitting directly on the surface—just ash and construction slabs. We are proud of Allison for recognizing this floor surface, which is more than 1,300 years old! This discovery brings the count of probable pithouses at the Dillard site to 10 and pushes the site into the category of a small village.
Thanks to All
It has been a tremendous season and we couldn't have done it without the help of hundreds of people, including program participants, scholars, Indian Camp Ranch landowners, field interns, American Indian advisors, and Crow Canyon board members and staff. Needless to say, this project has a strong foundation because of all of you. Thank you!
Goodman Point Archaeological Project, Phase II
In other news, as part of Phase II of the Goodman Point Archaeological Project, Supervisory Archaeologist Grant Coffey finished documenting the Harlan Great Kiva site. Research and education staff alike pitched in to backfill excavation units that had exposed six floor surfaces and upwards of 250 years of human use of the site.