Today was the start of our unofficial last week of excavation at the site. So of course, we began making very interesting finds today, now that the clock is ticking louder and louder.
Today was very eventful in Unit 18. Natalie and Erin resumed working on their respective sides of the unit (Erin in the south, Natalie in the north). It was immediately apparent that the patterns we saw last week would continue; the fill in the south, while loaded with artifacts, was full of cobbles/wall fall. The north was also packed with artifacts, but had substantially less cobbles. Right before lunch, we found some large pieces of bone in the north half of Unit 18. This bone was very fragile, so a lot of it fell apart during excavation. Although we lost some bone, we were able to discover that we have a dog skull along the western wall of the unit! Unfortunately, most of the top part of the cranium fell apart during excavation. However, the mandible is still intact, and is still in place in the unit. What is most interesting is that we found only the dog’s skull. Had the entire skeleton been present, it could have been possible that a wild dog wandered onto the site, died, and was left undisturbed. We only have the skull, which means it was removed from the dog’s body. The skull is also upright, not on its side. This means it was put into place in an upright position. From what we can tell, the dog skull is not sitting on a floor. So it seems to have been placed in the fill. The fill in the south side of the unit seems very much like trash fill. It is full of sherds, fire cracked rock, and is very dark, loose, and soft. Finding the dog skull was very exciting; it’s the first one I have excavated. However, we learned much more about Unit 18 today.
Our excavation in Unit 18 today also revealed that the architecture we have discovered is much more complicated than we thought (although this seems impossible). We found what we think is the base to the cobble wall today; the nice facing ends abruptly, and we found no more stones beneath it. Unfortunately, we were not able to define a surface. We did, however, find a very nice corner of the wall, turning towards the southwest. We may also have a doorway in the wall. These discoveries were also very exciting, and not too complicated to understand. What makes the unit complicated was the discovery of another two walls in Unit 18. We seem to have defined a thin, but deep, line of adobe. We noticed this in the north profile of Unit 5, but could not determine what it was. With excavation in Unit 18 today, we found another thin line of adobe. These two thin adobe walls are perpendicular to each other, and would form a corner just outside of Unit 18.
So, to summarize Units 5 and 18: we have the original pithouse we found last year. This is almost two meters deep. It had a surface, burned roof, and we were able to recover over 15 dendro samples from it. Above, and cut into the fill of this pithouse, is another pithouse. On top of both of these pithouses, is a cobble wall. We’re still working out the chronology for these structures. However, it seems that the original pithouse we discovered dates to around 800 AD, we cannot determine a date for the later adobe pithouse yet, and the cobble wall likely dates to 950-1050 AD (based on ceramics). I can only imagine what we’ll find in the last few days of excavation in Unit 18.
We also established what likely will be the final excavation unit at the site today, Unit 20. Unit 20 is in the great kiva. It is detached from the other units we have dug there so far. It is a 1 x 2 meter unit running north to south. The purpose of Unit 20 is to expose the south wall of the great kiva. Since the great kiva is square, and we know how far the east wall is from the center, we estimated how far from the center the south wall should be. Hopefully, we will be able to define the wall, and better delineate the architecture of the great kiva.
We established Unit 20 today (even though we have not exposed surface in Unit 19), because Karol Stoker came to the site to take archaeomagnetic samples from the hearth we found on the east end of Unit 12. Taking archaeomagnetic samples is very delicate work, so the crew could not excavate in Unit 19 while Karol was collecting his sample. Karol took 7 samples, and I am very optimistic we will get a date from some of these!
Megan returned to the site today, and Lindsay, another incoming graduate student to CU (Go Buffs!), also joined the crew. Megan and Lindsay did probably the most important (and tedious) work today– profiling, mapping, and closing the adobe room (Units 4, 6, 10, 11, 13, 14, 16, and 17). They did a great job cleaning up the area for a final photo. Karol will also attempt to take samples from the hearth in the adobe room tomorrow, and then we will start backfilling it!
Finally, Dr. Cameron and Dr. Lekson joined us at the site today. As you can tell, they picked the right day to arrive, as so many exciting things were discovered. I hope whatever good mojo the brought with them continues into tomorrow!