Hello Everyone,

Long time, no blog. I wanted to give everyone an update on my post-fieldwork research and analysis of material from Woodrow Ruin. First, the sorting and typing of close to 40,000 sherds from Woodrow Ruin has been completed! This seemed like an insurmountable task when analysis began, and it would have been for one person. However, I have had invaluable help from some local archaeology enthusiasts, who have dedicated 2 hours a week to the analysis of artifacts from Woodrow Ruin. Gretchen, Kate, Karen, Debbie, Joanne, Mardi, Karol, and Rosi, I can’t thank you enough for all of your help! Analysis of the sorted ceramics has already started to reveal some interesting data.

 

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One of the things I am most intrigued with was unexpected. By far, the majority of Style III rim sherds from Woodrow Ruin have two thick rim bands. This was not something I was looking for, but became apparent as more and more sherds were examined. I’m not completely sure what the abundance of Style III sherds with two rim bands represents, but my guess is that it could be a Woodrow “calling card.” Perhaps a certain potter or group of potters at Woodrow used two thick rim bands as their signature or maker’s mark.

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            Data from the neutron activation analysis (NAA) of ceramics from Woodrow may help solve the two-thick rim band mystery. Currently 85 sherds are being bombarded by radiation at the University of Missouri Research Reactor to help determine the source of the clay. Likely, the majority of the sherds were made at from clay sources near Woodrow. However, our understanding of ceramics made in the upper Gila is not nearly as complete as ceramics made in the Mimbres river valley. It will be interesting to see how many sherds with two thick rim bands in the Mimbres river valley have the same compositional components as those from Woodrow Ruin.

            Several other interesting trends have emerged from the analysis of ceramics from Woodrow Ruin. It is apparent that Woodrow Ruin has a much higher percentage of San Francisco redware and Mogollon Red-on-brown sherds than most other Late Pithouse sites in the Mimbres region. However, Mimbres Style I ceramics dominate the assemblage. To me, this indicates a very large Late Pithouse population at Woodrow Ruin. Woodrow Ruin may have been one of, if not the largest Late Pithouse sites in the Mimbres region.

            Analysis of data from excavations have shown that the apex population at Woodrow Ruin was somewhere between AD 850-1000. This was a period of much change and transformation in the Mimbres region. People switched from living in deep pithouses to above-ground roomblocks. The excavations at Woodrow Ruin have demonstrated that the transition from the Late Pithouse to Classic period was not rapid and insubstantial, but diverse, gradual, and important. This transition is the focus of my dissertation, so I will be writing extensively about it. In the meantime though, I’m providing a link to the NSF report I’ve written that discusses the results of three years of work at the site (https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B-K_AF2ZH-S7SE5GTXJaZWJhdFU/edit?usp=sharing).

More updates to come as my dissertation nears completion! 

Jakob

 

 

 

This is the End…

I expected today’s post, the last of the field season, to be fairly boring. I was going to say things like “we spent the day backfilling.” There wasn’t supposed to be excavation today. But of course, I forgot the first rule of archaeology. You ALWAYS find the best/coolest stuff on the last day…

Today did start out fairly straightforward. We got an early start (5:30 am!) to avoid the hottest part of the day. Megan, Lori, Dr. Cameron, Dr. Lekson, and I back filled the great kiva, while Erin and John worked on cleaning and photographing Units 5 and 18, which contained two pithouses and an above ground cobble wall. We made great progress, and were done filling in the great kiva by 8:30.

More backfilling

More backfilling

While cleaning the floor of Unit 5, Erin noticed the rim of a ceramic vessel. At first we were confused, because we had removed all artifacts that were sitting on the floor of the pithouse in Unit 5. This rim appeared to go under the floor. Although we were ready to backfill, I decided to excavate the vessel. After a little brushing and scraping with the trowel, it appeared that we had found another small bowl, which had been sunk into the floor. So, I began removing fill from the “bowl”. Removing fill quickly revealed that my initial assessment was wrong. There was not a bowl in the floor, but a large olla, which had been sunk into the floor! Thus, the opening to the vessel was right at the level of the floor, and the large body was subfloor, and likely served as storage.

Excavating the olla put us an hour and a half behind schedule. Thus, we did not finish backfilling until 1:30. For those of you not following the weather in southwest New Mexico, it has been HOT down here for the past few days. Today was no exception; when we left the site the temperature was 103 (a little cooler from 107 we had yesterday). Still, we were able to finish backfilling, and wrap up at the site.

The crew working hard

The crew working hard

So, we just finished another very successful summer at the site. Today was bittersweet; it was the last day I will work at Woodrow Ruin (for the foreseeable future, at least). I can’t believe how successful the project was. I really cannot thank the crew enough. Kyle, Josh, Greg, and Mary also deserve special thanks, for volunteering their time and supplies and driving from Silver City to help us backfill in the middle of the recent heat wave. I also need to thank April, Eleanor, and Merritt for the excellent accommodations.

While this is the end of my excavation at Woodrow, my work really is only just beginning. I must now analyze everything, and write my dissertation. Although blog updates will no longer be regular, I will post every once in a while to share what I have found. Thanks for reading, and for your support of research at Woodrow Ruin!

Jakob

Final Countdown, Part II

There was no blog update yesterday because we went to the Farm and Ranch Museum in Las Cruces to view the Canada Alamosa display. We had a great time, and the crew would like to thank Karl and Toni Laumbach for admitting us in to the museum and having dinner with us yesterday! I will combine what we found before lunch yesterday with what we found today. Today was our second to last day of excavation at the site. Of course, it was a very busy day with several important discoveries. It was also the first day where the thermometer in my Trail Blazer crossed 100 degrees.

Viewing the Canada Alamosa display at the Las Cruces Farm and Ranch museum

Viewing the Canada Alamosa display at the Las Cruces Farm and Ranch museum

Unit 18 continued to produce very interesting stratigraphy, architecture, and artifacts yesterday and today. The differences that we have found on the north and south side of the units persisted the last two days. On the north side of the unit, there is much adobe, whereas on the south side the adobe is almost absent. At first, we left the adobe in place, because we were not sure if it was part of in situ architecture. However, by about lunchtime today (which is 10:45 for us–we get up early), we had realized the adobe was rooffall. Several of the large adobe chunks have beam impressions in them (the impressions are about 5 centimeters wide). The adobe also has many bits and pieces of charcoal mixed in with it. The adobe chunks are about 10 centimeters thick. Interestingly, all of the adobe was sitting at about the same level; the adobe popped off the fill below. After removing some of the adobe chunks, we discovered what appears to be a surface. So, we have large chunks of adobe from a roof sitting on top of a surface. The surface is very ephemeral, and in some places the roof has damaged it greatly. However, we found several flay-laying artifacts on the floor, including a very large sherd and obsidian flake. By the end of the day, we had about half of the surface exposed. This surface and rooffall is associated with Pithouse 2, the later, adobe lined pithouse we discovered in Unit 18.
While there is much adobe rooffall and a surface in the north side of Unit 18, there was almost no adobe on the south side, and no evidence of a floor. In fact, several large sherds are still vertical in the fill on the south side of Unit 18 (both sides are at the same depth). So, we seem to have two different depositional events on either side of the cobble wall, which post-dates both of the two pithouses. It is all a bit confusing (what else is new), but we will get it figured out.
On a different note, we found a cloud blower in the profile fill of Unit 5, where Erin is working. This cloud blower is smaller than the cloud blower we found in the great kiva, but the one we collected today is complete. Units 5 and 18 have also produced a high number of worked sherds, and a bunch of other “cool” artifacts (projectile points, Glycymeris bracelets, etc). Tomorrow we will finish exposing the surface in Unit 18, and then begin to close the unit.

Cloudblower from Unit 5

Cloudblower from Unit 5

Although excavation has ended in the adobe room (Units 4, 6, 10, 11, etc), the last few days have been very interesting. Yesterday, Dr. Lekson worked on defining the hearth, since Karol was done taking archaeomagnetic samples from it. Dr. Lekson found that there is not just one stone-lined heard, but two (the second cuts into the first), along with an ambiguous pit full of charcoal, artifacts, and loose fill cut into the south side of the hearths. We collected the ash from the hearths, which will hopefully contain remains from plants and animals people ate over 1000 years ago. We already found a large bird bone in the pit cut into the hearths.
After the hearths were excavated, documented, and photographed, we began backfilling the adobe room. Tomorrow, we will all start the day by filling it up more. Backfilling is always a little bittersweet, but we recovered excellent data from the room, and I’m looking forward to analyzing the artifacts we found in it!

Stone-lined hearths in the adobe room

Stone-lined hearths in the adobe room

Adobe room final photo

Adobe room final photo

John taking final photos of adobe room

John taking final photos of adobe room

Dr. Lekson and Megan mapping the hearths and pit in the adobe room

Dr. Lekson and Megan mapping the hearths and pit in the adobe room

Things are also winding down in the great kiva. We have been working slowly the last few days, but that is because a surface was discovere in Unit 19. In fact, we have found at least 3 surfaces. Yesterday, we discovered a surface near the ramp in the east profile. This surface was higher in elevation than the surface we found in Units 12 and 15. It was not in great condition, and seems to be mounded up where the ramp enters the kiva. We discovered two more surfaces below this. Unfortunately, the only artifacts we found on the surfaces were non-diagnostic brownwares. However, it is always great to see a floor, and the floor in the great kiva looks particularly nice. Tomorrow we will spend the day profiling and documenting what we have done, and do a few odds and ends things to help us better understand what we have found in the great kiva.

Surface in Great Kiva

Surface in Great Kiva

By the end of tomorrow, we should be completely done excavating for the year. With any luck, we will begin backfilling after our weekend (which we may spend part of working at the site).

Delton backfilling

Delton backfilling

Jakob

Another Great Day At Woodrow Ruin

Today was another busy (but good) day at the site. We had two sets of visitors today. The first group was Mary, Kate, Joseph, and Wind, our neighbors in the Cliff Valley. The second group was Dr. Gilman’s survey crew from the University of Oklahoma. Both groups came at the right time, as we are starting to figure out what we have found at the site this year.

Showing the site to Mary, Kate, Joseph, and Wind

Showing the site to Mary, Kate, Joseph, and Wind

Giving a tour to Dr. Gilman's crew

Giving a tour to Dr. Gilman’s crew

Natalie and Erin continued to excavate and define the architecture in Unit 18 today. The stark differences between the north and south sides of the wall continued. The fill on the south side (where Erin is working) consists almost entirely of cobbles, with a little bit of dirt and artifacts mixed in. On the north, Natalie has only a few cobbles, with a lot of artifacts. Towards the end of the day, the fill on the north began to change. Clumps of burned adobe in the fill increased, along with charcoal. This is reminiscent of the fill just above the burned beams that we found in Unit 5. If we are just above burned rooffall, we should be able to define it within the next two days. This rooffall should be associated with the second pithouse in the unit, the later pithouse we defined yesterday.

Unit 18. Note the cobbles/wall fall in on the left (south), and lack of cobbles on the right (north)

Unit 18. Note the cobbles/wall fall in on the left (south), and lack of cobbles on the right (north)

The crews working in the great kiva continued to make progress towards revealing the surface and hopefully exposing the southern wall. Delton and Lori resumed their work in Unit 19, and are just above the surface we found in the great kiva in Units 12 and 15. They should be able to expose the surface tomorrow. Lindsay and Megan also were able to excavate 3 levels in Unit 20 today. They have begun to find wall fall in the southern portion of the unit; this wall fall likely is sloping towards the north, based on the topography of the great kiva.

Unit 20; wall fall in north.

Unit 20; wall fall in north.

Karol joined us at the site again today, and was able to take archaeomagnetic samples from the hearth in the adobe room. I am very optimistic that we will get dates from the samples that Karol took!

Karol working on archaeomagnetic samples

Karol working on archaeomagnetic samples

Tomorrow we will only be working until lunchtime. In the afternoon we are travelling to Las Cruces to visit the Canada Alamosa artifacts on display. So, there may or may not be a blog post tomorrow, depending on what we accomplish in the morning, and when we get back.

Jakob

So It Begins…

Today was the start of our unofficial last week of excavation at the site. So of course, we began making very interesting finds today, now that the clock is ticking louder and louder.

Today was very eventful in Unit 18. Natalie and Erin resumed working on their respective sides of the unit (Erin in the south, Natalie in the north). It was immediately apparent that the patterns we saw last week would continue; the fill in the south, while loaded with artifacts, was full of cobbles/wall fall. The north was also packed with artifacts, but had substantially less cobbles. Right before lunch, we found some large pieces of bone in the north half of Unit 18. This bone was very fragile, so a lot of it fell apart during excavation. Although we lost some bone, we were able to discover that we have a dog skull along the western wall of the unit! Unfortunately, most of the top part of the cranium fell apart during excavation. However, the mandible is still intact, and is still in place in the unit. What is most interesting is that we found only the dog’s skull. Had the entire skeleton been present, it could have been possible that a wild dog wandered onto the site, died, and was left undisturbed. We only have the skull, which means it was removed from the dog’s body. The skull is also upright, not on its side. This means it was put into place in an upright position. From what we can tell, the dog skull is not sitting on a floor. So it seems to have been placed in the fill. The fill in the south side of the unit seems very much like trash fill. It is full of sherds, fire cracked rock, and is very dark, loose, and soft. Finding the dog skull was very exciting; it’s the first one I have excavated. However, we learned much more about Unit 18 today.
Our excavation in Unit 18 today also revealed that the architecture we have discovered is much more complicated than we thought (although this seems impossible). We found what we think is the base to the cobble wall today; the nice facing ends abruptly, and we found no more stones beneath it. Unfortunately, we were not able to define a surface. We did, however, find a very nice corner of the wall, turning towards the southwest. We may also have a doorway in the wall. These discoveries were also very exciting, and not too complicated to understand. What makes the unit complicated was the discovery of another two walls in Unit 18. We seem to have defined a thin, but deep, line of adobe. We noticed this in the north profile of Unit 5, but could not determine what it was. With excavation in Unit 18 today, we found another thin line of adobe. These two thin adobe walls are perpendicular to each other, and would form a corner just outside of Unit 18.
So, to summarize Units 5 and 18: we have the original pithouse we found last year. This is almost two meters deep. It had a surface, burned roof, and we were able to recover over 15 dendro samples from it. Above, and cut into the fill of this pithouse, is another pithouse. On top of both of these pithouses, is a cobble wall. We’re still working out the chronology for these structures. However, it seems that the original pithouse we discovered dates to around 800 AD, we cannot determine a date for the later adobe pithouse yet, and the cobble wall likely dates to 950-1050 AD (based on ceramics). I can only imagine what we’ll find in the last few days of excavation in Unit 18.

Dog mandible in Unit 18

Dog mandible in Unit 18

Cobble wall corner in Unit 18

Cobble wall corner in Unit 18

Dr. Lekson, Erin, and Natalie working in Unit 18

Dr. Lekson, Erin, and Natalie working in Unit 18

We also established what likely will be the final excavation unit at the site today, Unit 20. Unit 20 is in the great kiva. It is detached from the other units we have dug there so far. It is a 1 x 2 meter unit running north to south. The purpose of Unit 20 is to expose the south wall of the great kiva. Since the great kiva is square, and we know how far the east wall is from the center, we estimated how far from the center the south wall should be. Hopefully, we will be able to define the wall, and better delineate the architecture of the great kiva.
We established Unit 20 today (even though we have not exposed surface in Unit 19), because Karol Stoker came to the site to take archaeomagnetic samples from the hearth we found on the east end of Unit 12. Taking archaeomagnetic samples is very delicate work, so the crew could not excavate in Unit 19 while Karol was collecting his sample. Karol took 7 samples, and I am very optimistic we will get a date from some of these!

Karol taking an archaeomagnetic sample

Karol taking an archaeomagnetic sample

Establishing Unit 20

Establishing Unit 20

Megan returned to the site today, and Lindsay, another incoming graduate student to CU (Go Buffs!), also joined the crew. Megan and Lindsay did probably the most important (and tedious) work today– profiling, mapping, and closing the adobe room (Units 4, 6, 10, 11, 13, 14, 16, and 17). They did a great job cleaning up the area for a final photo. Karol will also attempt to take samples from the hearth in the adobe room tomorrow, and then we will start backfilling it!

Adobe room final picture, facing SE

Adobe room final picture, facing southeast

Megan and Lindsay profiling

Megan and Lindsay profiling

Finally, Dr. Cameron and Dr. Lekson joined us at the site today. As you can tell, they picked the right day to arrive, as so many exciting things were discovered. I hope whatever good mojo the brought with them continues into tomorrow!

Jakob

Discoveries and Visitors

Today was a very busy day at the site. Not only did we make some great discoveries, but the Grant County Archaeological Society, and also Dr. Darrell Creel (along with his wife and a friend from Silver City) visited us today.

Excavation in Unit 18 today consisted of more fill removal. Yesterday, I had mentioned that the south side, where Erin is working, had a different fill than on the north side, where Lonnie and Natalie are working. It did not take long for the fill difference to disappear. So, the difference, while likely significant, was limited to the uppermost levels of Unit 18. Although the crew working in Unit 18 has not defined a surface yet, they did find plenty of neat artifacts today. On the south side of the unit, Erin found a whole pot, broken into large pieces and deposited as one concentration. We likely have most of the pieces of the pot, and will be able to reconstruct it. The sherd concentration was not resting on a surface, so it seems that around 1100 years ago someone broke a pot, and then dumped it into the trash. Lonnie and Natalie also found some cool artifacts on the north side of the unit. Along with an obsidian projectile point, they found the foot of a ceramic effigy (we can’t exactly tell what type of animal the foot came from). Overall, it was another successful day in Unit 18. The crew made excellent progress removing more fill. We still don’t know quite what to anticipate, so we are working slowly. It really is interesting to excavate a later occupation on top of what we know is an earlier pithouse.

Broken pot in Unit 19

Broken pot in Unit 18

Unit 19

Unit 18

With the help of Dr. Creel, we may finally have begun to understand what we have found in the great kiva. Yesterday, I mentioned that we found a big block of adobe in the eastern profile of the unit. We continued to define that adobe today. There is a noticeable break on the north side of the adobe; fill simply falls away from it with the slightest brush. Thus, the adobe definitely is part of architecture. We now think that we may have found the east wall of the great kiva. To the north, where the adobe stops, is the ramp entry to the kiva. The ramp aligns nicely with the ash scatter we found in Unit 12, which now almost certainly appears to have been part of a hearth. When we were excavating in Unit 12 we were not able to define any rock or adobe lining for the ash, so we were not certain we had a hearth. However, I think part of the hearth is still under Unit 19; we will hopefully be able to expose it on Wednesday. The crew still is about 25 centimeters above the floor; we should be able to expose the floor in Unit 19 on Wednesday, and see how it articulates with the wall in eastern profile of the unit. I am very glad that we finally are starting to understand what we’ve found in the great kiva!

Figuring out the Great Kiva with Dr. Creel

Figuring out the Great Kiva with Dr. Creel

Delton pontificating

Delton pontificating

East profile in Unit 19. Note the break along the north (left) edge

East profile in Unit 19. Note the break along the north (left) edge

As I mentioned, the Grant County Archaeological Society visited us at Woodrow today. It was great to show the site to so many enthusiastic people. As I told the GCAS, giving tours of Woodrow Ruin is easy; the site really does speak for itself. It is always great to see how impressed everyone is with the artifacts on the surface of the site. I’m glad I have the opportunity to show everyone this one-of-a-kind archaeological site!

Sherd found on the GCAS tour today

Sherd found on the GCAS tour today

Grant County Archaeological Society tour of Woodrow Ruin

Grant County Archaeological Society tour of Woodrow Ruin

Jakob

Start of the Last Month at Woodrow Ruin

Happy June everyone! The start of a new month brought a few surprises to the site and the upper Gila. The first, perhaps most noticeable, was the temperature. Today after work, while on the way to the garbage dump, the thermometer in my car recorded the temperature as 99 degrees. So, it is starting to get warm. We’re also starting to see wisps of the first fire nearby this summer; we can’t seem to find out where exactly it is, but its somewhere to the south and west, likely in Arizona. Excavation also uncovered a few new things…

Natalie, Robert, Erin, and Lonnie continued to excavate the wall we discovered yesterday in Unit 18. This wall is one of the best we’ve defined at Woodrow Ruin. The south side is very nicely faced, and even appears to have some plaster still on it. The face on the north side is not as nice. The wall also seems to be slumping towards the north a bit. We seem to have only one segment of a wall running southeast to northwest. It is difficult to determine whether we have an interior and an exterior of a room, a dividing wall between two rooms, or something else. Based on the presence of plaster on the south face of the wall, our best guess was that the interior of a room would be on the south side. This would mean that we dug through the room last year, as we were excavating the pithouse in Unit 5. Looking at the north profile of Unit 5, there is very little evidence for a surface. There is no thick, flat layer of mud or adobe. However, surfaces can be very ephemeral and informal.
By the end of the day we still were not 100% sure what was one either side of the wall. However, we did discover two completely different types of fill on the north and south side of the wall. On the south side the fill is red, loose, and has larger grains. There are also large cobbles form wall fall on the south side. On the north side the fill is darker, and gray, has very fine grains, and is very loose and soft. There were numerous small cobbles, but no large pieces of wall fall on the north side. So, although we do not know exactly what is on either side of the wall yet, we do know there were two different depositional events. We also know that this wall is above a pithouse. Finding this wall was completely unexpected, but it still is very exciting to excavate. I can’t wait to figure out what exactly is on either side of the wall!

Wall in Unit 18, facing west. Note the different color fill on the north and south sides.

Wall in Unit 18, facing west. Note the different color fill on the north and south sides.

Excavating and note-taking in Unit 18

Excavating and note-taking in Unit 18

An interesting discovery was also made in the great kiva today. We started the day by cleaning Unit 19. This revealed a large section of adobe in the east profile wall. This adobe isn’t simply melt. It is at least 35 centimeters tall and 30 centimeters wide. Interestingly, the east face of Unit 19 is right where this adobe section starts; we did not dig through and adobe while excavating in the unit. The adobe is almost certainly part of an architectural feature; it just is unclear what exactly this feature is currently. The adobe does not extend across the width of the unit; in fact, we found a nice edge on its north side. It appears to terminate about a third of the way across the east face. If it spread across the entire face, I would be inclined to think it was a wall plaster or facing. It still may be, and part of it simply fell off. Currently, it seems that the only way we will be able to figure out what exactly the adobe is part of is to excavate down to the surface, and see how the surface articulates with it.

East profile of Unit 19

East profile of Unit 19

The adobe section is not the only interesting feature we found in Unit 19 today. As expected, the crew began to find cobbles that seem to be wall fall in the western half of Unit 19. However, the wall fall is almost completely absent in the eastern half. In Unit 15, wall fall cobbles were missing from the western third of the unit. This made sense, as the center of the great kiva was apparently disturbed and dug out when a shrine was put in the bottom of it. The missing wall fall in the easternmost extent of our excavation in the great kiva is a bit perplexing. I think the appearance of adobe in Unit 19 today may have something to do with the absence of wall fall; I simply have not come up with an explanation yet.

Unit 19, facing south. Note the cobbles in the west (right) side, and lack of cobbles on the east (left)

Unit 19, facing south. Note the cobbles in the west (right) side, and lack of cobbles on the east (left)

The end of the project is in site (pun intended), which of course means we will start making all of the important discoveries soon. Archaeology is a puzzle. We’ve collected a bunch of pieces, and now will begin to start putting them together.

Jakob