The confusion from yesterday cleared up a bit today at Woodrow Ruin. We are beginning to understand the adobe architecture in Units 6/10/11/13 better, found the floor in Unit 5, and found a very ashy, burned area in the Great Kiva.
Lonnie and Erin found the floor in Unit 5 early this morning. After days of delicate scraping and brushing, no more large burned beams were found. A few small twigs and reeds were uncovered to start the day, along with a very cool piece of burned fiber used to tie thatch together. The floor was immediately below this fine material. As I expected, it was initially difficult to distinguish the floor from the burned material that was above it. However, once the floor was defined it was easy to trace and expose. We found no new features in the floor. After the floor was exposed, we covered it with plastic sheeting and laid several buckets of backfill on top of it. Although it may seem crazy, we reburied the surface to help protect it while we worked on the rest of the unit. The crew, which now consists of Dean and Erin, will work on removing baulk in the unit left over from last year’s excavation. We are doing this to fully expose the surface in the Unit, in order to properly decide where to expand excavation of the pithouse.
After a week and a half of mixed fill that consisted almost entirely of ceramics and cobbles/architectural debris, the crew in Unit 12 began to find something different today. About mid-morning Lori began to notice ash about midway through the unit. This ash extended in patches east in the unit. A test window revealed that this ash layer is at least 10 cm thick. It also seems to cover almost all of the eastern extent of the great kiva. This is very interesting. We found no evidence of an ash layer in Unit 9; the ash simply isn’t present in the earlier unit. The as in Unit 12 is not a thin lens, but a thick layer that would be visible in Unit 9’s eastern profile if it were in Unit 9. So, the ash seems to be confined to the eastern half of Unit 12. Several flat-laying sherds were present in the uppermost layer of the ash. This indicates that the ash could possibly be on a surface, yet the test window does reveal at least another 10 cm of ash. The fill mixed with the ash is also different than what the crews working in Unit 9 have seen so far. It is softer, looser, and seems to have a higher density of trash artifacts.
At this point, it is unclear what the ash layer represents. Currently, my best guess is that it was an intrusive deposit associated with cobbles protruding from the east profile. The presence of Style II ceramics in the ash fill indicates that the deposit was made some time in the mid 10th century. I do not think that the ash is on the original occupation surface of the great kiva, based on the depth of Unit 9, and the fact that we found no such deposits in that Unit. Still I am wary of simply digging through the ash and possible surface, in case it is the original occupation surface. We will therefore work very carefully in scraping and clearing the ash.
A “cool” artifact was also found in Unit 9 today, just above the ash layer. We found what appears to be a cloud blower. It is made of clay, tapered at one end, and has a hole running through it. If it is a cloud blower, it is the largest one I have ever seen. It is partially broken, so it is difficult to determine exactly what its function was. Still, we have found nothing else like it at the site so far.
I think we finally started to understand the adobe mess in Units 6/10/11/13/14 better today. We started the day by trying to remove excess fill in order to better expose the surface/floor. Unsurprisingly, the surface was initially hard to define. I therefore decided to clean up the NE corner of Unit 13, which was an adobe/cobble mess. As I cleaned the wall, fill neatly fell off a very nicely face adobe wall. Most importantly, we found what appears to be a corner. This corner attaches to the original adobe wall we defined last year, and runs southwest to northeast. Unfortunately, no wall is attached to this corner. As I have hopefully made clear, digging adobe is difficult because it does not preserve well. It is also very likely that the adobe wall was destroyed (at least partially) prehistorically. Once again, the profiles of the units we have dug help us understand where the wall was. On the NW side of where the missing wall should be, the profile is full of fist-sized cobbles, indicating sterile soil. The fill south of this lacks these cobbles, and is full of trash. Thus, I think we may have finally defined at least some of the boundaries of the room. We added a new unit today, Unit 14, south of Units 11 and 6. Unit 14 should be located on the interior of the room, and should contain part of the hearth we defined in Unit 6 last year.
Finally, Dean Hood joined our project today. Dean spent the morning pin flagging all surface architecture visible at the site. I will later go through and GPS these pin flags. Doing this will hopefully give us an idea of how many surface rooms there are at Woodrow Ruin.
I hope everyone has a great Memorial Day weekend! We still have two more days of work for our week, but will have Memorial Day off.