Crow Canyon Archaeologists Use Remote Sensing to Peer Into Past

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Crow Canyon archaeologists have been hard at work preparing the Haynie site for the 2018 field season and our Archaeology Research Program participants. At the same time, they’re also taking advantage of remote sensing technology to help determine the best spots for Northern Chaco Outliers Project excavations at the site in the future.

Crow Canyon Field Archaeologist Becca Simon says much of the remote sensing survey work has been happening on the east side of the site in anticipation of excavations beginning there in 2019.

“Excavation and testing will continue on the west portion of the site investigating anomalies and buried deposits identified last season, but we want to be prepared for when we move across the site,” says Simon. “A number of anomalies just south of the east great house look promising for earlier occupation as well as additional features that may give a better understanding of the cultural connections with the greater Chaco network.”

Last year, Crow Canyon archaeologists launched the donor-supported Northern Chaco Outliers Project, which focuses on the Haynie site—a significant ancestral Pueblo site located just northeast of Cortez. Excavation and testing began in the 2017 field season, and the project will continue through 2020.

You can be a part of the discovery at the Haynie site by participating in our incredible Archaeology Research Program. Click here or call 1-800-422.8975, ext. 451 to learn more!

The Haynie site contains two Chaco–period (A.D. 1050–1140) great houses and numerous small houses. Last year’s field work produced data of additional structures on the site that may be small houses used at the same time as the great houses or rooms used prior to the Chaco period.  The site is part of the larger Lakeview group, which includes the two great houses at the Haynie site and two others nearby on private land. This makes the Lakeview group one of the densest concentrations of great houses found north of New Mexico's Aztec Ruins.

The site is listed on the Montezuma County Historic Registry, the Colorado State Register, and the National Register of Historic Places. Collaboration with Crow Canyon’s Native American Advisory Group are also a priority, as the group visits the site regularly and advises the staff on their execution of the project during quarterly group meetings.

An interesting aspect of the Haynie site has been the discovery of evidence pointing to a potentially much earlier occupation of the site by ancient Pueblo people. Remote sensing technology such as electrical resistance surveys and magnetometry provided our archaeologists a tantalizing glimpse beneath the surface, revealing possible evidence for structures and features that may pre-date the visible structures on the site.

“While excavating a random sample in the modern lawn, we encountered masonry walls that differ from the masonry we see in both great houses. This suggests that the structures either existed prior to the great houses or they had a very different purpose,” says Simon. “We did a series of electrical resistance surveys around the units with the walls and found some anomalies to the north of the structures. We will put in units to target those areas this year.”

Crow Canyon contracted archaeologist Mona Charles of Durango-based Powderhorn Research, LLC., to assist with collecting the remote sensing data, as well as to produce the report on the remote sensing work at the Haynie site.

Remote sensing work for the Northern Chaco Outliers Project is made possible thanks to a grant from History Colorado—State Historical Fund and the generous support of Crow Canyon donors and program participants like you.

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