Today was another busy day at the site. We got one of those archaeology curveballs, where you find something unexpected, but still very interesting. It also is starting to get hot on the upper Gila–we easily cracked 90 today. Its days like today that make getting up at 5:00 am easier, since we get to avoid the hottest part of the day.
Lonnie and Erin, formerly of Unit 5, began excavation in a new unit, Unit 18, this morning. Things started out as we expected; lots of artifacts in fill mixed with cobbles and architectural debris. Unit 18 was established to further expose the pithouse found in Unit 5. We expected mixed overburden (two meters of it, in fact), before we found the roof. It quickly became clear that Lonnie and Erin weren’t simply excavating in mixed overburden. One of the best walls we’ve seen at the site in the last two years appeared less than 10 centimeters deep after excavation began. This was very exciting! However, finding the wall means we will have to change our excavation approach. The wall consists of cobbles held together with adobe. It even appears that some of the plaster is still intact on the wall. As far as we can tell, the interior of the room is on the north side of the wall. So, we will now need to excavate part of a roomblock, along with the fill above the pithouse. This means Unit 18 will be expanded from a 1 x 2 meter unit to a 2 x 2 meter unit. I’m excited to see what we find in the room, and to also expose more of the pithouse roof and floor. We just have to approach excavation a little differently than we were expecting.
Dean, Lori, and Delton began excavation of Unit 19 in the great kiva today. Establishing the unit was a bit difficult, due to the slope of the kiva; the east end was substantially higher than the west. Despite this, the crew made excellent progress. We have not found a wall or any definitive architecture, but we still are a bit higher in the unit than when we started seeing wall fall in Unit 12. Even though we are just beginning to dig down in Unit 19, we have already noticed some interesting differences between it and Unit 12 (immediately west of 19). The fill in Unit 19 has much more gravel and small pebbles, and appears to be redder in color, especially on the east side of the unit. It has the appearance of “sterile” soil, but still has artifacts in it. Unit 12 had no such fill. Thus, it seems like we have two different types of fill in the eastern and western portions of the trench we’ve dug, perhaps indicating two different depositional events, or architecture. As always, I could speculate what exactly this change in fill means, but I’m sure I will change my opinion tomorrow as we excavate. So, you’ll just have to check back tomorrow (how’s that for a teaser?).
Unfortunately, today was Erin Baxter’s last day at the site. She spent her last day working diligently and meticulously in the adobe room area. Her hard work paid off, because by the end of the day the surface in Units 16 and 17 had been exposed. Even after all of Erin’s work on the floor, we still were not able to conclusively define any more adobe walls. This is frustrating, but there really is not much we can do. The adobe simply isn’t there. However, we did notice a break between the floor and sterile soil in the southern portion of the units. So, overall, I think we can roughly estimate the dimensions of an adobe room. We definitely have surface. I think the reason we are missing adobe walls is that the room was disturbed during a later period in time. Although this doesn’t make for pretty pictures, it still provides us with some valuable information about the occupation of Woodrow Ruin.
Not only did we lose Erin Baxter today, but Sara Cullen also left us. Both Erin and Sara provided invaluable help at the site, and I can’t thank them enough for their help!