There’s a saying in archaeology: It’s not what you find, its what you find out. This adage is meant to encourage new archaeologists when they first start digging and don’t immediately find crystal skulls, turquoise necklaces, or any other shiny, eye-catching artifact. Essentially, the saying means that even “boring” things, such as broken pieces of rock, provide crucial data to archaeologists. However, finding the cool stuff is something most, if not all archaeologists really enjoy. Today we found lots of cool stuff.
The crew in Unit 9 was the first to find cool artifacts today. Early in the morning, while clearing more gravelly fill with artifacts in the great kiva, the crew discovered a large quartz crystal. While this was found in great kiva fill, and not on the floor, it is worth noting that this if the largest crystal we have found in excavation at the site. It was mixed in with architectural debris/wall fall. The crew also found a very nice piece of pottery– the side of a painted jar with a notch in it for a cord to run through. It is one of the most unique pieces of pottery that we have found at the site so far. Several other important discoveries were also made in Unit 9 today. The crew spent the day excavating more gravelly fill, and documenting and removing wall fall. As excavation in the great kiva continued, wall fall began to pervade the unit. By level 11 large cobbles were consistent throughout the unit. While most of the wall fall was removed, we left some in place. The two largest stones are located in the center of the unit. They are flat, and lay flat on the ground. Although we have not identified a burned roof or surface yet, these flat-laying stones seem suspicious, so we kept them in place. Tomorrow, we will begin the day by putting a test window in the eastern portion of the unit, in order to determine how much further down roof-fall or a surface is.
While the crew in Unit 9 was working on removing wall-fall and crystals, the crew in Unit 5 was busy excavating more burned beams. Erin and Natalie worked on clearing more roof-fall, and found several dendrochronological samples. Between the samples that were collected yesterday and today, I am very optimistic that we will be able to get a date from the tree beams. Excavating through burned material is very meticulous work, and the crew made great progress. The majority of the fill in the unit consists of burned roofing material. This includes burned and oxidized adobe, roof beams, pockets of ash, and artifacts. Tomorrow we will put in a test window to see how much further down the burned roof material goes, and hopefully identify the depth of the floor or surface.
The crew working in Unit 10 made significant progress today, and established a new unit (Unit 11) in order to better define the adobe architecture and surface present in Units 4, 6, and 10. The crew also found a very cool artifact.
As I’ve previously mentioned, excavating adobe is very difficult and confusing, and this is how the day began for the crew in Unit 10. The unit was packed with “blobs” of adobe that did not form any definitive alignments. After a few hours of work, the unit could best be described as an adobe and cobble mess. However, a closer examination of some of the adobe revealed that much of it was melt, and not part of an architectural alignment. Once the excess adobe and fill was removed, a very nicely faced adobe wall became apparent. After this wall was defined, the crew continued to excavate toward the where the floor should be, based on the depth of the floor in Unit 6. The crew continued to uncover adobe blobs, and it was not clear whether these were wall melt, or something different. We therefore decided to open a new 1 x 1 meter unit directly south of the southwest corner of Unit 10 (essentially making Unit 6 a 3 x 1 meter unit). We did this because we know the depth of the floor and location of the hearth in Unit 6, which we can then use to help us define architecture in Unit 10. Soon after excavation in Unit 11 began, Josh discovered one of the coolest artifacts from Woodrow Ruin so far–a clay dog figure, or effigy, was found in the southwest corner of the unit. The dog effigy was not found on a surface or in a feature, but is very unique! More importantly, however, the crew cleared fill in the unit down to about 20 cm above the floor. Hopefully tomorrow we will find floor and part of the hearth exposed in Unit 6 last year.
I feel like a broken record at this point, but I really can’t believe how much progress we’ve made in just a few days! Tomorrow is our Friday, and the crew is looking forward to a well-deserved break (along with some Blake’s LottaBurger in Silver City).