Monday, February 26, 2007

Scientific Monday. Today I went out to re-visit the site my company has been excavating since last April. There is only about a month left, and the northern portion of the site has proved to be very interesting since the houses that are being found are a little older- some going back to circa A.D. 500-700 . You can click on any of these images to see larger versions!

Shallow pithouse.

This is a typical pithouse- you can see the projecting entrance on the right, and a series of posthouse inside that once contained the posts holding up the ceiling and walls. All of the white circles that are visible are as yet unexcavated features. They are marked as they are found during backhoe scraping- it helps us keep track of things as the site gets dusty.

Deep pithouse.

Jeffrey C. is finishing up a much deeper pithouse- one that is very nicely preserved with a lot of the lime plaster intact. The above picture looks into the house through the stepped entranceway, towards the back wall.

Entrance plaster.

There are impressions of sticks on the sides of the entrance way, with the sticks placed there over 1,000 years ago.

Stepped entrance.

The entrance way is stepped, and the hearth is right in front of it. Originally the entire house was roofed and there would have been a smoke hole to let smoke out of the structure.

Plastered hearth.

The hearth is about 10 inches in diameter and is made from ground-up caliche (a type of hard soil that develops here in the Southwest).

Jeffrey C.'s pithouse.

Jeffrey C. is standing next to the back wall- you can see the impressions of the posts that supported the back wall.

1000-year-old wooden post.

One of the wooden posts was still preserved in place, unburned. This is extremely rare, it may be the first time I have ever seen this.

Pithouse map.

Jeffrey is documenting the house through written descriptions and hand drawn maps. Later a laser imaging device is being brought in to document this pithouse in 3-D.

Roasting pit.

Among the many pits scattered around the site are roasting pits, which were used to cook agave (a type of plant- the kind they make tequila from) and meat.

Roasting pit, half excavated.

These pits contain a lot of rocks that were heated up and the food was laid on top to cook.

The end of the desert.

Of course the down side of doing these digs is to see the desert removed to put up houses. Here are small barrel cactuses that have been removed, as required by law, and stockpiled. In the distance you can see where the desert is being graded away to put up homes.

Well, that's the science lesson for today.

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