Today, we collected the least amount of artifacts in a day from the site so far this year. The crew was pleased with this, because it meant we only had a few bags to wash when we got back home. It didn’t really affect my post-digging day much; Delton and I had to run trash to the dump (just one of the many joys of being a project director). We recovered so few artifacts because every unit was doing slow, delicate work. Once again, this is not a bad thing at all. Slow, delicate work in archaeology usually means we are excavating a floor, roof-fall, or other important feature.
For most of the day, the crew in Unit 5 worked on removing fill below the “shrine” feature we found above the roof-fall last year. Just like the rest of the unit, there was much burned material in this fill. We were able to collect a few more dendro samples, which was very exciting. Unit 5 also wins the prize for finding the “coolest” artifact today; they uncovered half of a glycymeris shell bracelet. After the burned roof material was removed, the floor was exposed. No new features were found on the floor. Once the floor was identified, we covered it with plastic sheeting and a layer of fill to protect. Erin and Dean are now working on baulk left in the NE corner of the unit from last year. Once the baulk is removed, we will have floor exposed throughout the Unit, which will help us decided where to excavate next.
We made some very interesting discoveries in the great kiva today. The day began with the crew carefully scarping and brushing the ashy surface we found yesterday. We once again found several flat-laying sherds on it, and a complete, nicely made obsidian projectile point. It soon became clear that we almost undoubtedly were on a surface. Although I thought the surface might have been from a later, intrusive occupation yesterday, I now am fairly confident that the surface was from the original use of the great kiva. I put a test window in, and about 10 cm down (which is the average thickness of a great kiva floor) saw sterile soil. Additionally, the sherds on the surface were primarily Style I and II, which date to when the great kiva should have originally been used (around 850-950 AD, for non-Mimbres archaeologists). So, we have an original occupation surface on which something burned intensely. This is great! However, it does not explain why in Unit 9, towards the center of the great kiva, we have sherds that date to the Classic period below sherds that date to the Late Pithouse. Currently, the best explanation I have for this is that someone dug into the center of the kiva during the Classic period and made the shrine we discovered in Unit 9. Although we don’t completely understand the occupation, abandonment, and reuse of the great kiva at this time we are making excellent progress, and know much more than we did a few days ago. Because I think the floor is from the original use of the great kiva I did not want to excavate through it. We therefore established a new unit, Unit 15 immediately south of Units 9 and 10. It is a 3 x 1 meter unit that will help us understand the surface we found in Unit 12, and should also help us delineate the break between the floor and fill in Unit 9.
Unit 14 also made some excellent progress today. The day was mostly spent excavating down to the surface, and then uncovering the surface. By the end of the day, the crew had just started uncovering the surface. We will continue to expand and exposing the surface tomorrow.
It’s almost June, and that means its starting to get hot in southwest New Mexico. I don’t know the official temperature, but it almost certainly made it into the 90’s today. Still, 90 is not too bad…