May 17th, 2013
Our second day of research at Woodrow Ruin this year was incredibly successful! Perhaps it was the half hour late start the crew got, since most of us didn’t get back until late (late, at least for a field season) from an excellent meeting with the Grant County Archaeological Society last night. The crew and I would like to extend our thanks to the GCAS for the excellent food and hospitality we had last night, and the speaker wasn’t that bad either.
Today began with all of the crew chipping in on removing backfill from Unit 5. For the non-archaeologists out there, a 2 meter x 2 meter unit 2 meters deep= a LOT of dirt to remove. The crew spent an hour helping Erin, Natalie, and Lonnie shovel out fill from the unit. This helped immensely; by the end of the day the crew working in Unit 5 had removed all of the backfill, and exposed the plastic sheeting we placed on top of the roofbeams we found last year. Thus, tomorrow we can begin excavating the roof at the bottom of Unit 5!
The crew working in Unit 6 also made excellent progress today. By lunchtime, they had exposed the adobe-cobble wall, surface, and hearth that we excavated last year. After these were exposed, the crew established a new unit, Unit 10, immediately north and one meter west of Unit 6. As I mentioned yesterday, the purpose of Unit 10 is to further define the adobe cobble-wall, and any associated architecture. By the end of the day the crew had removed approximately 20 centimeters of overburden from the unit. They will continue to excavate tomorrow, and hopefully begin to define more of the adobe-cobble wall.
Excellent progress was also made in Unit 9 (the great kiva unit) today. Soon after Delton, Sara, and Sean helped the crew in Unit 5 they found a feature in the southwest corner of the unit. The feature was located in very hard packed clay, the same stratigraphy that we found the tin can in yesterday. The feature appears to be a posthole. It consisted of loose, sandy fill within a square hole approximately 10cm x 10cm. At first, we thought the feature might be a rodent hole. However, the hole is very straight and neatly constructed, and is very deep. Close to 50 cm of fill was removed from the feature before we could not reach deep enough to remove more; we tested deeper within the feature with a pin flag, and found that the soft, sandy fill continues at least 5-10 more centimeters. The posthole does not appear to be prehistoric, however. After fill was excavated and collected from the posthole, excavation in Unit 9 continued. We soon discovered that there was a different stratigraphic layer below the hard packed-clay. This new layer consisted of looser soil, packed with pebbles and gravel, and full of artifacts. The remainder of excavation in Unit 9 today was in this stratigraphic layer. The gravely layer was formed as rain and wind washed artifacts and stones into the bottom of the kiva through time after it was abandoned. So far, we have not found any roofing material or prehistoric surfaces in this layer. Still, we can use the discovery of this new stratum to help us understand the posthole feature. As previously mentioned, it was dug into the hard, compact clay layer. Currently, the best explanation for the formation of this layer is that is was created through people walking or standing at the bottom of the great kiva during the historic period (thus, the tin can). These people also built a structure. Because we found only one posthole, we cannot determine what the structure was. It is possible that it was an Apache wiki-up, European settler structure, or something else. When we expand excavation in the great kiva, we will hopefully be able to better understand the historic posthole. However, at this time it is apparent that the feature was made during the historic period, and is not associated with the prehistoric use and construction of the great kiva.
Once again, we had a fantastic day at Woodrow Ruin. We even found the first piece of pottery from excavation with a human figure on it! It didn’t get too hot or windy, and we made some excellent progress. The season is off to a great start!