Today without a doubt was the most exciting at Woodrow Ruin so far. The day began with a visit from the U of A and Archaeology Southwest field school, and ended with some major discoveries.
Today Woodrow Ruin was graced with the presence of Hal Baillie. Hal opened up Unit 4. Unit 4 is located north of Units 1 and 3, and is located on one of the ambiguous ridges located throughout the site. It is unclear what is underneath these ridges: trash, roomblocks, other architecture, etc. Thus, unit 4 will test a ridge to see what is beneath it. Hal worked by himself today, and already has excavated down to level 2. The Unit will be inherited by other crew members once they arrive.
Unit 3 started off like usual, in that it was a confusing and difficult unit to interpret. Early in the day were struggling to find any patterns, although artifacts were still coming out of the fill. However, by noon, we noticed what appeared to be distinct stratigraphic layers in the north profile. The center of the profile was full of cobbles, and red fill, what we have been calling sterile soil. Surrounding this on the east and west side is darker fill, full of artifacts. Soon after, we identified definite changes in the fill in the unit (see picture below), forming what appears to be the corner of a pit. We therefore left the sterile fill unexcavated, and followed the dark fill down. The top of this fill is lined with hard adobe-like material. A very distinct turn, or corner is also present in the NE corner of the fill. Right now, this seems to be more like a pithouse than anything we have excavated thus far.
Unit 2. Unit 2 spent most of the day revealing the hard material found at the bottom of level 6. Throughout the day we were uncertain of what this material was. It looked like it could be surface, but was in very poor condition. It was present in some areas, and not in others, and we found no flat-laying artifacts, so we did not think it was a floor. The crew mapped in the surface once as much as possible was exposed. Our plan was to next remove the material to see what was underneath, which we thought hopefully would be a floor. However, I noticed several upright standing stones at the bottom of the east wall of room we exposed. Since upright- stones are often footing stones found at the bottom of Classic Mimbres walls, this indicated that we in fact had reached the bottom of the unit. Thus I began to think that the hard material was actually a surface/floor, but a very poor one. I then put a test 30 cm x 20 cm unit against the east wall of the room. This proved to be very interesting! Immediately under the hard material is a layer of small-medium sized rocks. This rock layer lasts for 15-20 cm. Immediately underneath this is soft, redder soil. This was full of charcoal, but most interestingly, we found several Mogollon Red-on-brown sherds! For the non-Mimbres archaeologists, the period Mogollon Red-on-brown ceramics were made in predates the period the Classic period (when the roomblock was constructed) by close to 400 years! I now think the history of the roomblock was as follows (starting from earliest to latest):
-The area where the roomblock now sits was occupied early in the Late Pithouse period. It is possible that the roomblock sits on top of a pithouse, but at the very least it is over an area occupied when Mogollon Red-on-brown and Redware ceramics were manufactured. Years later, a Classic period roomblock was built on top of this area. The first thing people did in constructing this roomblock was put down a layer of stones to level out the area. A surface/floor was then laid on top of these stones. When the roomblock was abandoned, the roof beams were removed and the room emptied out. This explains the absence of beams in the room, and the poor condition of the floor. I’m excited to begin exploring beneath the floor of the room, and learn more about the Late Pithouse occupation of the site!
Overall, today was a very exciting day! I’m sure tomorrow will bring new developments, but at the very least, I think we are beginning to identify some interesting features! Thanks to the U of A and Archaeology Southwest field school for visiting today!