Getting Started…

Hello Everyone,

Today was our first day of research at Woodrow Ruin. The day went very well; we’re off to an excellent start! We left Silver City at 6:00 am, and arrived at Woodrow around 6:45. The day started with me (Jakob) giving a site tour to the crew members (Nick, Esteban, Erina, and Jane).  After the site tour, we went over how forms would be filled out, where equipment was located, and all of the other necessities of an archaeological excavation. By 9 am we were ready to begin. We started by establishing units in two different locations: one in the southwest 1/3rd of the site, hopefully over a Late Pithouse hearth (Unit 1), and the other in the central roomblock of the site (Unit 2). The units were put in these locations for several reasons. In March, we conducted geophysical survey (resistivity and magnetometery) at Woodrow Ruin. This survey revealed numerous areas that looked “interesting” and may be burned structures, hearths, or other features. Unit 1 was placed directly over one of the interesting features detected in the geophysical survey; our hope is that Unit 1 is located directly over the hearth of pithouse dating to the Late Pithouse period. Unit 2 will help us better understand the large, prominent roomblock in the center of the site that located between two great kivas. This roomblock likely dates to the Classic period. It was excavated by the Grant County Archaeological Society (GCAS) in the Late 1950’s, however, all data from those excavations has been lost. It is unclear how extensive the GCAS excavations were. Hopefully, we will learn about the extent of the GCAS excavations from Unit 2, and also get some good data from the Classic period. Below, I will summarize what the crews for each unit did and discovered today.

Unit 1:

Nick and Erina

Unit 1 is a 1 meter (north to south) x 2 meter unit (east to west) oriented with magnetic north. It is located in the southwest 1/3rd of the site. This area of Woodrow Ruin has less surface architecture and more Late Pithouse ceramics than other areas. Three levels were recorded and excavated in the unit today. The first level was excavated to level out the unit and bring all corners and the center of the unit to the same depth. The ceramics from this level were largely Mimbres Style I-III, although ceramic types from earlier periods were also recovered. Level 2 was excavated to 10 centimeters below level 1. Once again, no natural or cultural stratigraphic breaks were encountered in this level. However, corrugated ceramics appeared to be much more common in level 2 than in level 1. There were also numerous, small-medium sized, unmodified rocks encountered in level 2, especially towards the bottom of the level. Major changes in the stratigraphy of unit 1 were apparent with the excavation of level 3. The first thing noticed was a change in soil type in the western 1/3 of the unit. The sediment was lighter red/brown in color than the previously encountered sediment. By the bottom of the level it was apparent that much burned, puddle adobe was present in the western 1/3rd of the unit. Additionally, three large rocks were encountered in the eastern 1/3rd of the unit which run diagonally east from the north to the south wall. It is unclear at this point whether these represent an architectural alignment. Brownwares became much more common towards the bottom of Level 3. The day ended for Unit 1 with the completion of Level 3; the crew will further examine the puddled/burned adobe tomorrow.

Unit 2:

Esteban and Jane

Unit 2 was established in the NE corner of the second room from the east in the southern half of the central roomblock. The unit is 1 meter (east to west) by 2 meters (north to south) in size. We wanted to align the north and east wall of the unit with the north and east wall of the roomblock room, so as to help delineate architecture. The condition of the roomblock’s walls (which are collapsing), made this difficult, however. Architecture in the Mimbres region is much more difficult to define than that in the northern southwest (I’ve now excavated rooms at Chimney Rock, outside of Casas Grandes, Black Mountain, and Woodrow Ruin, and the walls at Chimney Rock were by far the easiest to follow)! Like Unit 1, the first level of Unit 2 was meant to bring all corners and the center of the unit to the same elevation. A mixture of ceramic types from the Late Pithouse to the Classic period was encountered in this first level. No natural or cultural changes in stratigraphy were recorded. Much wall fall was encountered in level 2, which was a 10 centimeter level. These were left in place and mapped, but will be removed in level 3. There also seems to be some puddle adobe in the level, which was likely part of the room’s architecture. The ceramics in level 2 were mostly Styles II-III, although earlier types were also present. At this point it is unclear if the room unit 2 is in was excavated by the GCAS, and how the artifacts collected from the units were deposited. Numerous artifacts were present, so if the GCAS did excavate the room, they did not screen their excavated dirt. It is also possible that the GCAS placed excavated dirt from the adjacent room into the room unit 2 is in. Further excavation will help clarify how the artifacts were deposited. Towards the end of the day we realized that Unit 2 was not as close as it could be to the east wall of the room. It therefore will be extended further east tomorrow.

Although we didn’t find any crystal skulls, all in all, today was about as successful as the first day of a project can be! As expected, we recovered numerous ceramics, lithics, some obsidian, a few burned pieces of faunal bone, and a couple pieces of charcoal. These artifacts are the first of many which will help us better understand the history of Woodrow Ruin!


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