Start of the Last Month at Woodrow Ruin

Happy June everyone! The start of a new month brought a few surprises to the site and the upper Gila. The first, perhaps most noticeable, was the temperature. Today after work, while on the way to the garbage dump, the thermometer in my car recorded the temperature as 99 degrees. So, it is starting to get warm. We’re also starting to see wisps of the first fire nearby this summer; we can’t seem to find out where exactly it is, but its somewhere to the south and west, likely in Arizona. Excavation also uncovered a few new things…

Natalie, Robert, Erin, and Lonnie continued to excavate the wall we discovered yesterday in Unit 18. This wall is one of the best we’ve defined at Woodrow Ruin. The south side is very nicely faced, and even appears to have some plaster still on it. The face on the north side is not as nice. The wall also seems to be slumping towards the north a bit. We seem to have only one segment of a wall running southeast to northwest. It is difficult to determine whether we have an interior and an exterior of a room, a dividing wall between two rooms, or something else. Based on the presence of plaster on the south face of the wall, our best guess was that the interior of a room would be on the south side. This would mean that we dug through the room last year, as we were excavating the pithouse in Unit 5. Looking at the north profile of Unit 5, there is very little evidence for a surface. There is no thick, flat layer of mud or adobe. However, surfaces can be very ephemeral and informal.
By the end of the day we still were not 100% sure what was one either side of the wall. However, we did discover two completely different types of fill on the north and south side of the wall. On the south side the fill is red, loose, and has larger grains. There are also large cobbles form wall fall on the south side. On the north side the fill is darker, and gray, has very fine grains, and is very loose and soft. There were numerous small cobbles, but no large pieces of wall fall on the north side. So, although we do not know exactly what is on either side of the wall yet, we do know there were two different depositional events. We also know that this wall is above a pithouse. Finding this wall was completely unexpected, but it still is very exciting to excavate. I can’t wait to figure out what exactly is on either side of the wall!

Wall in Unit 18, facing west. Note the different color fill on the north and south sides.

Wall in Unit 18, facing west. Note the different color fill on the north and south sides.

Excavating and note-taking in Unit 18

Excavating and note-taking in Unit 18

An interesting discovery was also made in the great kiva today. We started the day by cleaning Unit 19. This revealed a large section of adobe in the east profile wall. This adobe isn’t simply melt. It is at least 35 centimeters tall and 30 centimeters wide. Interestingly, the east face of Unit 19 is right where this adobe section starts; we did not dig through and adobe while excavating in the unit. The adobe is almost certainly part of an architectural feature; it just is unclear what exactly this feature is currently. The adobe does not extend across the width of the unit; in fact, we found a nice edge on its north side. It appears to terminate about a third of the way across the east face. If it spread across the entire face, I would be inclined to think it was a wall plaster or facing. It still may be, and part of it simply fell off. Currently, it seems that the only way we will be able to figure out what exactly the adobe is part of is to excavate down to the surface, and see how the surface articulates with it.

East profile of Unit 19

East profile of Unit 19

The adobe section is not the only interesting feature we found in Unit 19 today. As expected, the crew began to find cobbles that seem to be wall fall in the western half of Unit 19. However, the wall fall is almost completely absent in the eastern half. In Unit 15, wall fall cobbles were missing from the western third of the unit. This made sense, as the center of the great kiva was apparently disturbed and dug out when a shrine was put in the bottom of it. The missing wall fall in the easternmost extent of our excavation in the great kiva is a bit perplexing. I think the appearance of adobe in Unit 19 today may have something to do with the absence of wall fall; I simply have not come up with an explanation yet.

Unit 19, facing south. Note the cobbles in the west (right) side, and lack of cobbles on the east (left)

Unit 19, facing south. Note the cobbles in the west (right) side, and lack of cobbles on the east (left)

The end of the project is in site (pun intended), which of course means we will start making all of the important discoveries soon. Archaeology is a puzzle. We’ve collected a bunch of pieces, and now will begin to start putting them together.



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