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Current Excavation

The Basketmaker Communities Project: Early Pueblo Society in the Mesa Verde Region

View of the La Plata Mountains and Mesa Verde from the Dillard site.

Time Team America.

In May 2013, the Crow Canyon Archaeological Center began the third year of excavations as part of its ongoing study of early Pueblo community development in the Mesa Verde region.

Titled the Basketmaker Communities Project: Early Pueblo Society in the Mesa Verde Region, this multiyear (2011–2014) study focuses on a pivotal, but underinvestigated and poorly understood, time in Pueblo history: the Basketmaker III period, A.D. 500–750.

Archaeology Research Program participant excavating at the Dillard site.

Archaeology Research Program participant excavating at the Dillard site.

The centerpiece of the project is the Dillard site (5MT10647), a Basketmaker III community center that dates from the seventh century A.D. and includes the only confirmed Basketmaker III great kiva in the central Mesa Verde region. The site is located just 2½ miles from the Crow Canyon campus in a picturesque area of the Montezuma Valley with striking views of Mesa Verde, Sleeping Ute Mountain, and the west slope of the Rocky Mountains.

In addition to conducting intensive excavations at the Dillard site, we are also beginning test excavations at a number of pithouse sites in the surrounding area that date to the same time period as the Dillard site. Together, these settlements constitute the most extensive and best-preserved Basketmaker III community known in the central Mesa Verde region.

All the sites being investigated are located in Indian Camp Ranch, a private residential community developed in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Excavations are being conducted under State of Colorado archaeological permits and with the permission of the Indian Camp Ranch Homeowners Association and individual landowners.

Read more about the Basketmaker Communities Project, including Crow Canyon's project-specific research questions.

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So what's happening in the field? For periodic excavation updates throughout the season, check out News From the Field.