One week down…

May 19th,
Today marks the end of our first week at Woodrow Ruin. I really couldn’t have asked for a better week. We moved literally a TON (probably more) of dirt this week, and are making some great discoveries.

For the most part, working in Unit 9 this week was pretty straight forward. We simply worked on removing cultural fill loaded with artifacts. Yesterday we started identifying numerous cobbles that appeared to be wall fall, some of which were large and flat. Today things got more confusing. We found several more large, flat stones that simply weren’t jumbled up wall fall. These stones were the largest we’ve found in the unit so far, and several had been shaped. They all seemed to lay flat. However, these stone are NOT in contact with any surface. In fact, several CLASSIC period sherds were found underneath the stones. This was very confusing. Most of the ceramics we found in the 80+ centimeters of fill above the stones were Mimbres Style I, which is in the Late Pithouse period and predates the Classic period. This is the time period we expect the kiva to have been used in. It does not make sense that ceramics from a later time period are underneath these large stones. After we discovered that the stones were actually sitting on fill, I put a small test window along the eastern profile wall of the unit. This window reached a depth of approximately 40 centimeters, when I could no longer see the bottom. However, the fill throughout these 40 centimeters was full of artifacts, and looked similar to the cultural refuse we have found throughout the unit.

Stone Alignment in Unit 9 (facing east)

Stone Alignment in Unit 9 (facing east)

Stone Alignment in Unit 9 (facing west)

Stone Alignment in Unit 9 (facing west)

So, Unit 9 ended the week in a bit of confusion. I don’t know what the large, flat stones sitting in fill represent. They almost certainly are not wall fall. They are too large and too neatly placed. My best guess is that the were part of a shrine put into the fill of the pithouse (maybe during the Classic period?) after its originally use ended. We also know that we have a bit more digging to do before we reach burned rooffall, a surface, etc. At this point, the 1 x 2 meter unit is close to 2 meters deep. It may now be more practical to establish a new unit off of the original 1 x 2, to help us understand the kiva. I will spend the weekend thinking about this.

Unit 9 at End of Day

Unit 9 at End of Day

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If the test window in Unit 9 created confusion, the test window we put into Unit 5 today demonstrates how test windows should work. We began the day by finishing level 17 in Unit 5. We definitely are excavating in some very burned material. The stratigraphy in the unit is very nice; we can see the burned adobe layer (which would have capped the roof), and the subsequent ashy layer that has burned beams and organic roofing material in it. Before we began level 18, we put a test window in the northeast corner of Unit 5. By a stroke of luck, the test window was placed over a hearth. About 10 cm down I found a large, burned stone in the test unit. Immediately below it was a very dense, fine ash. Although part of the hearth was lost was lost to the test window, it was relieving to find it. We know now that the floor of the pithouse is about 10 cm below our current depth. Assuming that the hearth is in the center of the pithouse, we can also begin to figure out its size and where next to dig. It will be slow going in Unit 5 when we start back up next week however, excavating burned beams takes time, and we should find several more.

Test Window with Hearth Stone in Unit 5

Test Window with Hearth Stone in Unit 5

Units 10/11 continued the tradition of confusing adobe excavation early this morning, but by the end of the day we had pretty well defined some architecture and rooms. It did not take long for Unit 11 to get down to the level where a floor or surface should be, based on our excavation of Unit 6 last year. However, we could not easily define a floor, and the fill above the floor was different than the fill we saw last year above the surface in Unit 6. After a while, we figured out our mistake. We assumed that the east side of Unit 11 would be part of the room we exposed in Unit 6 last year, and would contain part of the hearth we found also. After closely examining the adobe architecture, and especially the profile walls of all the units (6, 10, and 11) we have dug so far, I now think that we actually have two rooms

Describing this is hard to do in a blog post, especially after a week of excavation in the desert sun. So, I will briefly summarize. We found an adobe wall last year, running southeast to northwest between Units 4 and 6. We established Unit 10 to trace this wall further to the northwest. Although part of the wall is missing in Unit 10, it definitely is there and continues northwest through the unit. We have found a cross wall running southwest to northeast running through Units 11 and 6. Thus, we have at least two rooms between the units. As I hinted at, the profiles of the units we have dug help most in figuring this out. In the north face of Unit 10 there are numerous fist-sized cobbles, which appear to be part of the natural underlying sterile soil. These rocks are missing on the south face of Units 6 and 10, meaning they have been dug out for room construction. The new crosswall that we discovered helped us understand why we were having difficulty defining a floor in Units 10 and 11; we have two different rooms, with two different depositional histories. The day ended with Megan and Baxter exposing the new floor, in what (most likely) will become room 2.

North profile of Unit 10

North profile of Unit 10

Unit 6/11 South Profile Face

Unit 6/11 South Profile Face

Adobe Architecture in Units 6, 10, 11 (facing west)

Adobe Architecture in Units 6, 10, 11 (facing west)

More Adobe Architecture in Units 6, 10, 11

More Adobe Architecture in Units 6, 10, 11

We’re off to a great start at Woodrow this year! I really can’t believe one week has passed already. I’m looking forward to new discoveries!

Jakob

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3 thoughts on “One week down…

  1. Awesome first week Jakob! Wish I could be there to help, instead of recording ephemeral historic camps on the edge of Gallup!

    Could your inverted stratigraphy in Unit 9 be the result somebody (historic? with your post hole?) leveling out the floor of the kiva using older midden deposits from somewhere else?

  2. Thanks Kellam! After thinking about it and discussing it, I don’t think its inverted; I think its just a really deep kiva, that has Classic period trash close to two meters down. I think the flat stones we’re seeing are some sort of shrine built in the great kiva after its use ceased. Regardless, its really interesting!

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