A famous archaeologist once said that archaeology is the most fun you can have with your clothes on. While this may be true, archaeology can also be one of the most confusing things you can do with your clothes on. What seemed certain yesterday has gone up in smoke today (or a cloud of dust more accurately), but this is not necessarily a bad thing. Part of the fun of excavating is uncovering new things, and changing ideas, plans, and hypotheses on the fly.
Unit 2: For the first part of the morning excavations in Unit 2 proceeded as planned; the crew peeled back the hard material/surface, and revealed a layer of capping stones beneath. However, once they reached about the half-way point of the unit they began seeing much ash/charcoal, and what appeared to be oxidized adobe/melt. At first we thought it may be an ash dump; the ash clearly was not part of a hearth. However, the ashy surface continued throughout the western portion of the unit. We also found a clear break between the ash, and other fill beneath the hard material/surface. The work day ended before this could be fully defined, and as of right now, I really have no idea what this ashy surface could be. I initial thought it may be burned roof fall, but there are no beams/roofing material present, and it would not make sense for a burned roof to be under a surface. I also want to keep this material as intact as possible, as we will hopefully be able to get an archaeomagnetic data from it. So the crew will now focus on the eastern half unit, and exposing the rocks, and underlying pithouse occupation described yesterday.
-On a side note, the crew discovered what appears to be a Hohokam Red-on-buff ceramic today. I’m not well buffed on Hohokam ceramics, so if anyone reading this blog is well-versed in Hohokam ceramics let me know if you have an idea on what type this may be!
Unit 3: Yesterday, I was excited because I felt almost certain that Unit 3 had discovered the corner of a pithouse. However, it did not take long for us to figure out today that the feature most likely is not. After only 20-30 centimeters of excavation, we hit sterile sediment at the bottom of the cut. This would make the supposed pithouse very shallow. We also hit no other artifacts or features that would indicate a pithouse. Therefore, the crew will finish profiling and closing up the unit, and move to a new area (north of where they are currently digging). I am sure we identified some cultural modification of the landscape; the stratigraphic break is too stark for it not to be. I think this may be an instance where I really need to dive into artifact analysis to determine what happened prehistorically in Unit 3.
Unit 4: Today, the one and only Erin Baxter joined the crew at Woodrow Ruin, and began working in Unit 4. The day started pretty standard, both Hal and Erin worked on removing the top levels of the unit. By the end of the day, it looked like some interesting patterns had started emerge. At the bottom of level 4 Hal and Erin noticed a large adobe blob extending from the north wall. This is more than a simple random piece of adobe; it seemed to possible have some definition. It is still too early to tell if this adobe blob is part of architecture, but I am hopeful. Interestingly, a large river cobble is found in association with this adobe in the profile of the unit. So, we may be coming down on architecture, but, as I’ve discussed at length, all of our hypothesis could be out the window by 8 AM tomorrow. Erin did find one of the nicest pieces of impressed adobe I’ve ever seen though, which does give me hope that we are coming down on architecture.
A special thanks to Hal Baillie for stopping by the site. He’s got to get back to work in Canyonlands, so he’s leaving tomorrow. If you’re ever in Moab, you should stop by and say hi to Hal (if he’s not working in the field). We may well get him converted to Southwest archaeology…