Sorry about the delayed post, internet in the Upper Gila has been spotty the last few days. Below is yesterday’s (5/17/13) update. I will (hopefully) today’s post up later today. I’ll leave you with a teaser: we found some AWESOME artifacts today…
Today, I, Sean, both Erin’s, and John Fitch spent 10 hours at Woodrow Ruin, instead of the usual 8. It was worth it. With 30 minutes left in the day, we discovered the best-preserved burned roof beam from Woodrow Ruin to date, in Unit 5. I did not want to leave this beam exposed overnight, so I stayed behind and excavated it, while most of the crew went back home to wash artifacts. John, Erin Baxter, (who I’ll refer to as Baxter from now on, to spare confusion), Erin Hughes, and Sean stayed behind to help me with the burned roof beam. Excavating a beam is a very delicate and meticulous process; we want to make sure that the beam is in perfect condition. If we scrape off even a little from the top or bottom we lose rings, which are used to date the sample. So, after working on the beam for 2 hours, I was able to remove it. And it was the best beam/tree ring sample we have from the site so far. Although I sent samples into the lab for analysis last year, none could be dated. I think the samples from today will be datable. They were very solid and tight, and I could see many rings in the profile of the beam. The discovery and removal of this beam made all of the hard work removing backfill from Unit 5 rewarding. We are now excavating new fill in Unit 5. Work tomorrow will continue to remove any roofing material, and hopefully begin to define architecture/surfaces.
Some interesting discoveries were also made in Unit 9 today. For most of the day, the crew excavated the same gravelly, artifact packed fill they excavated yesterday. However, by lunchtime they began to discover large cobbles in the east end of the unit. These cobbles are much larger than the small pebbles found in the gravelly fill. In fact, two of the large stones the crew uncovered were pieces of broken metates. Currently, the large stones found in Unit 9 do not form any distinct alignments or architecture. It is my guess that they represent wall-fall from the initial collapse of the great kiva after it was abandoned. They could also be architectural trash that was deposited into the great kiva prehistorically. Regardless, they represent a change in stratigraphy. The crew excavated almost a meter of gravelly fill that washed into the kiva over the last 1000 or more years. We may now be getting to a level that was deposited during, or soon after, the great kiva was used prehistorically.
Rocks in Unit 9
Significant progress was also made in Unit 10 today. As I have mentioned in previous blog posts, digging adobe architecture is not easy. However, the crew seems to have identified several “blobs” of adobe that may be initial evidence for the extension of the adobe-cobble wall we found in Units 4 and 6. Even more excitingly, we may have found a new adobe-cobble wall, forming a corner with the new wall. While I am hopeful of this, I do have to be cautious. We just discovered these adobe blobs, and excavation tomorrow may (and most likely, will), reveal something different.
Overall, I can’t believe how quickly time has passed, and how much we have accomplished in just 3 days! We had several visitors to the site today. Josh and Kyle are helping us again this year, and they also brought Mary, another member of the Grant County Archaeological Society. Eleanor, who owns one of the guesthouses we are staying at, also visited the site today. Even though she lives just down the road, it was her first time at the site.
Finally, I would like to send special thanks out to John Fitch. You haven’t seen John much in the photos I’ve posted; that’s because he’s the one taking the photographs. Although it seems like an easy job, taking and recording pictures at an archaeological project is very time consuming. John not only is an excellent photographer, but he has been recording all of the pictures, screening dirt, and helping in a variety of other ways. Having John around makes my job as project director much easier!