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Albert Porter Pueblo (Site 5MT123)
Montezuma County, Colorado

Annual Report, 2002 Field Season

By Susan C. Ryan

Introduction

Albert Porter Pueblo (Site 5MT123) is a prehistoric village site located in the central Mesa Verde region, as defined by Varien (2000*1:6–7) and shown in Figure 1. The types of pottery found on the modern ground surface suggest that people were living on this site at least as early as the Pueblo I period (A.D. 750–900) and perhaps even during Basketmaker III times (A.D. 500–750). The most intensive occupation, however, appears to date from the Pueblo II (A.D. 900–1150) and Pueblo III (A.D. 1150–1300) periods. Architectural evidence visible on the ground surface, including the remains of a possible Chaco-era great house, and the presence of both Pueblo II and Pueblo III pottery types indicate that the site reached its maximum extent sometime during these later periods.

Site Location and Ownership

Albert Porter Pueblo is located on a mesa top between Sandstone and Woods canyons in Montezuma County, Colorado (Figure 1). Most of the site, including the most-obvious concentrations of architecture visible on the modern ground surface, is contained within the boundaries of an 11.6-acre preserve owned by The Archaeological Conservancy. This parcel of land was donated to the Conservancy by members of the Porter family in 1988, and the test excavations currently being conducted by the Crow Canyon Archaeological Center are contained entirely within its boundaries.

History of Archaeological Investigations

Only limited research had been conducted at Albert Porter Pueblo before Crow Canyon began test excavations in 2001. A Colorado state site form was completed in 1965 as part of a University of Colorado survey. During this survey, a small number of artifacts were collected from the modern ground surface; today they are curated at the Anasazi Heritage Center in Dolores, Colorado. In the early 1980s, a sketch map of "Hedrick Ruin" (the original name of the site) was compiled by Art Rohn of Wichita State University. In the late 1980s, Mark Chenault, then a graduate student at the University of Colorado, used a transit to produce a more detailed map of the site. In 1995, researchers at the Crow Canyon Archaeological Center studied Albert Porter Pueblo as part of the Village Mapping Project (Lipe and Ortman 2000*1; Varien and Wilshusen 2002*1:11) and created a detailed topographic map of the site from aerial photographs. They then used this map, along with the aforementioned earlier documentation and additional mapping points shot in with a laser transit, to create a composite AutoCAD map showing both topography and selected cultural features. In 1995, Albert Porter Pueblo was nominated to the National Register of Historic Places as an example of a habitation site with public architecture (Lipe 1995*3); the site was formally placed on the register in 1999.

To date, the only professional excavations undertaken at Albert Porter Pueblo have been conducted by the Crow Canyon Archaeological Center. In 2000, The Archaeological Conservancy granted Crow Canyon permission to conduct a two-year testing project at Albert Porter; in 2002, permission was extended an additional two years, giving Crow Canyon researchers a total of four years in which to conduct fieldwork. Testing began in 2001 and is scheduled for completion at the end of the 2004 field season.

Permits and Reporting

Fieldwork in 2002 was conducted with the permission of The Archaeological Conservancy, under State of Colorado Archaeological Permit Number 2002-3. This interim report summarizes Crow Canyon's accomplishments at Albert Porter Pueblo during that season; for a summary of work conducted in 2001, see Ryan (2002*1). Upon completion of all fieldwork, laboratory analyses, and synthetic studies, Crow Canyon will publish the results of its research on this Web site.

Research Objectives

Research at Albert Porter Pueblo is guided by Crow Canyon's current research design, titled "Communities Through Time: Migration, Cooperation, and Conflict" (Varien and Thompson 1996*1). This research examines the development and depopulation of ancestral Pueblo communities in the central Mesa Verde region between A.D. 900 and 1300. Data are gathered and examined at the residential-site, community, and regional levels. Site-level data are provided by test excavations and surface collections at multiple sites; at Albert Porter, these data are being generated as we test each of the nine architectural blocks identified during mapping (Figure 2). On the community level, Crow Canyon researchers have attempted to identify groups of sites that may have formed ancient communities. A community is defined by Varien (1999*1:19) as "many households that live close to one another, have regular face-to-face interaction, and share the use of local social and natural resources." Albert Porter Pueblo is believed to be part of the Woods Canyon community, named for Woods Canyon Pueblo, a large village located approximately 1.8 km from Albert Porter Pueblo (Figure 3) and excavated by Crow Canyon in the mid-1990s (Churchill 2002*1). Comparisons among Albert Porter Pueblo, Woods Canyon Pueblo, and Woods Canyon Reservoir (a third site investigated by Crow Canyon [see Churchill 2002*1; Wilshusen et al. 1997*1]) should facilitate community-level research and allow us to reconstruct the development of the Woods Canyon community. At the regional level, comparisons between the Woods Canyon community and 27 other similar, long-lasting communities in the Mesa Verde region can be used to address the broader issues of regional settlement patterns, movements of people across the landscape, and the depopulation of the region as a whole in the late A.D. 1200s (see Ortman et al. [2000*1], Varien [1999*1], and Varien et al. [1996*1] for further discussion of communities and community-based studies).

The overarching goal of the Albert Porter project is to reconstruct the historic development of the pueblo and the community of which it was a part—that is, to identify the various periods of occupation, to document population growth and/or decline over time, and to better understand the emergence and role of the site as a community center. Community centers in the Mesa Verde region were focal points within their respective communities, and they are recognized archaeologically by the presence of distinctive residential and public architecture (Adler and Varien 1994*1:83–97; Varien 1999*1:141, 143). Because Architectural Block 100 (what I refer to in this report as "the great house") at Albert Porter Pueblo is distinctive in terms of its size, layout, and certain of its architectural details, it is possible that the village served as the community center for the Woods Canyon community, at least for a time. Thus, Crow Canyon's research at Albert Porter has the potential to provide important new insights into the historical development, population dynamics, and human environmental impacts of one of the most important sites in the Mesa Verde region.

Our specific research goals at Albert Porter Pueblo are threefold: (1) to identify and date each period of occupation; (2) to determine if the site was occupied continuously or at intervals; and (3) to estimate the number of people who inhabited the pueblo during each period of occupation. The results of our research will be used to examine two important questions: First, to what extent is there an identifiable Chacoan influence at Albert Porter Pueblo? Second, was there a change in community organization between the Chaco (A.D. 1050–1150) and post-Chaco (A.D. 1150–1300) periods? The transition between the Chaco and post-Chaco periods was marked by the most severe drought experienced by Pueblo people in the northern San Juan region (Dean and Van West 2002*1) and is the least understood time in Pueblo prehistory (Lipe and Varien 1999*2:292). Research at Albert Porter Pueblo will address these important questions as well as issues of general anthropological interest, including the nature of leadership; the organization of decision-making; the development of, and/or resistance to, social inequality; and the role of public architecture in the development of social complexity.

Field Methods

All Crow Canyon fieldwork is conducted using methods that are consistent with the principles of conservation archaeology (Lipe 1974*1). A detailed description of Crow Canyon's field methods and provenience system can be found in the on-line field manual. As specified in our research design, less than 1 percent of Albert Porter Pueblo will be disturbed through excavation, leaving the majority of the site intact for future study. During the 2002 field season, four types of contexts were selected for study: (1) middens located outside of structures, (2) pit structures, (3) the exterior faces of the north walls of roomblocks, and (4) modern ground surface.

Midden Testing

Stratified midden (trash) deposits located outside of structures are tested with randomly selected 1-x-1-m units. The artifact-assemblage data generated as a result will be used to (1) establish a basic site chronology, (2) identify the types of activities that occurred in different architectural blocks, (3) make inferences about prehistoric subsistence practices and trade networks, and (4) attempt paleoenvironmental reconstructions of the site area. The data will also be useful in a variety of intrasite and intersite comparative studies.

The diversity of artifact types in an archaeological sample is directly correlated with sample size (Jones et al. 1983*1). To ensure that the sample collected from Albert Porter Pueblo is representative of the diversity of the site assemblage as a whole (and not a function of sample size), our midden sampling strategy calls for the excavation of different numbers of test units, depending on the size (area) of the midden being tested. In middens ranging from 100 to 200 m2 in area, 10 1-x-1-m units are excavated (5 to 10 percent of the total area), and in middens larger than 200 m2, 15 units are excavated (with the goal of testing approximately 5 percent of the total area). In middens smaller than 100 m2, enough units are excavated to account for 10 percent of the total area.

Pit Structure Testing

The excavation strategy for pit structures at Albert Porter Pueblo calls for the excavation of a 2-x-2-m unit down to the level of roof fall in selected kivas. Once roof-fall deposits are uncovered, the size of the test pit is reduced to 1-x-2 m, and excavation continues to the floor of the structure, with the goal of exposing the hearth. This strategy is designed to ensure the collection of information that will allow us to address four critical areas of research. First, collecting tree-ring samples is key to reconstructing the chronological history of the site and dating each period of occupation. Wood preserves best when it has burned, and research indicates that pit structures are the buildings most commonly burned in the northern San Juan region (Cameron 1990*1; Wilshusen 1988*5). Therefore, one of our primary goals in testing pit structures at Albert Porter is to retrieve burned wood, primarily from roof-fall deposits, which will provide important chronological data. Second, ash collected from structure hearths has the potential to provide information on environmental conditions, structure function, diet, and the economic status of the individuals who occupied the structure (Adams 1999*1). Hearths are part of the standard feature complement in pit structures, and they are consistently located in the approximate center of the structures; our test pits are carefully placed to take advantage of this predictability. Third, test excavations in pit structures are undertaken to provide information on construction techniques and styles, which in turn will help us identify periods of occupation and, possibly, the degree of Chacoan influence at the site. For example, on the basis of characteristics visible on the modern ground surface, Architectural Block 100 was thought to perhaps be a Chaco-era great house. It is therefore important for us to identify the architectural style of this building as either Mesa Verde or Chacoan; key architectural features that will allow us to make this distinction include structure shape, pilaster style, masonry style, and type of ventilation system. And, finally, although Crow Canyon does not excavate for the purpose of finding human skeletal remains—and does not collect any remains recognized as human in the field—it is known that several pit structures at Albert Porter Pueblo date from a period of increased violence in the Mesa Verde region, A.D. 900–1300 (Kuckelman et al. 2000*1). Therefore, it is important to document the presence of human remains when they are discovered. (To read Crow Canyon's policy on the treatment of human remains and associated funerary objects, see the on-line field manual.)

Roomblock Testing

During the 2002 field season, six 1-x-2-m units were excavated to expose the exterior faces of the north walls of selected masonry roomblocks. The purpose of these excavations was twofold: (1) to provide information on construction sequences and (2) to help us evaluate the possible Chacoan influence at Albert Porter Pueblo. Evidence of Chacoan influence in roomblock construction includes banded masonry, footer trenches, and multistory construction (Hurst 2000*1). At Albert Porter, the test units placed along the exterior faces of roomblock walls are excavated from the modern ground surface down to undisturbed native sediment, which is interpreted as having been the occupational ground surface when the site was first inhabited. The excavation of these units allows us to determine whether foundation footer trenches are present (indicating a planned layout) and whether the walls rest on undisturbed native sediment or on earlier cultural deposits. Pottery recovered from cultural deposits beneath wall foundations helps us specify the chronological relationship between the earlier occupation and the masonry roomblock, which in turn refines our understanding of the occupational history of the pueblo.

Modern Ground Surface Collections

Also during 2002, "dog-leash" surface-artifact collections were made within 3-m-radius circles placed in the center of every 20-x-20-m grid square on the site (a total of 84 squares). Dead vegetation was raked from the collection circles, and the visibility was recorded for each unit. The collection of artifacts from the modern ground surface allowed us to map areas of low, moderate, and high artifact density across the site. These data will help us draw inferences regarding subsurface deposits and features, identify and locate different temporal components present at the site, and quantitatively assess the types and abundance of artifacts present on the modern ground surface.

2001 Field Season: A Review

Crow Canyon excavations at Albert Porter Pueblo began in 2001 with the mapping of all cultural features visible on the modern ground surface within the boundaries of The Archaeological Conservancy preserve. Nine areas of rubble and associated high-density artifact scatters (indicative of midden deposits) were identified as a result of this effort (Figure 2). Testing in 2001 consisted of the excavation of numerous test pits in various locations across the site. Excavation units were opened up in 13 pit structures located in Architectural Blocks 100, 300, 400, and 500; testing in six of the 13 was completed in 2001. Forty-one 1-x-1-m units were excavated in midden deposits; these units were located in Architectural Blocks 100, 200, 300, 400, and 500. The number of 1-x-1-m units excavated in each midden area was dependent on the horizontal extent of the deposit: the larger the deposit, the more units we excavated (see the discussion of midden testing methods). In general, our goal was to test between 5 and 10 percent of the total area of a given midden.

Also during the 2001 field season (in July), an electrical-resistance survey was conducted on 40 20-x-20-m grid units, for a total area of 16,000 m2 (Figure 4). The area surveyed included land north, east, west, and southeast of the possible great house (Architectural Block 100). Results of the resistance survey indicated the presence of 36 possible pit structures (in addition to those already identified on the basis of surface indications), multiple linear features representing possible footpaths or roads, a number of possible middens and surface rooms, a natural bedrock formation in the eastern portion of the surveyed area, and a CO2 pipeline along the east edge. These results more than doubled the number of architectural areas identified from evidence visible on the modern ground surface. A proposal was written by Crow Canyon researchers and accepted by The Archaeological Conservancy that allowed the testing, in 2002, of the 36 possible pit structures with 7-cm-diameter auger holes to confirm the presence and type of cultural feature present (see next paragraph).

2002 Field Season

Research during 2002 was conducted by Crow Canyon staff with the assistance of student and adult participants in the Center's research and educational programs. Excavation focused on seven of the nine defined architectural blocks: Blocks 100, 200, 300, 400, 600, 800, and 900 (Figure 2). Randomly selected 1-x-1-m units were excavated in nonarchitectural middens in Architectural Blocks 100, 200, 600, 800, and 900. Judgmentally placed 1-x-2-m units were excavated along the exterior faces of the north walls of roomblocks in Architectural Blocks 100, 300, 400, and 900, and judgmentally placed 2-x-2-m units were excavated in pit structures in Architectural Blocks 100, 300, 600, and 900. In addition, the 36 possible pit structures indicated by the 2001 electrical-resistance survey were auger-tested, and the results suggest that 33 of the anomalies are indeed pit structures. Table 1 lists each excavation unit by block and provides information on average depth, the presence of features and structures, and the status of excavation at the end of the 2002 field season (complete vs. incomplete). Table 2 provides a list of all surface-collection units by grid coordinates and study unit number.

The following sections contain brief descriptions of excavated contexts, as well as preliminary inferences regarding the dating of structures. These inferences are based on stratigraphic sequences, the presence or absence of burned beams in roof-fall deposits, tree-ring dates (yielded by samples collected in 2001; see Table 3), and pottery data (following Wilson and Blinman 1991*1).

Architectural Block 100

Architectural Block 100 consists primarily of a large, distinctive building complex that I refer to as "the great house." Lipe and Varien (1999*2:258) describe great houses as "having massive masonry walls, blocked-in kivas, and a much higher degree of architectural formality" than surrounding architecture; at least portions of them are often multistory. In the central Mesa Verde region, they appear to have been built from about A.D. 1075 to the early 1100s, although some continued to be used into the 1200s (Lipe and Varien 1999*2: 256, 258, 273). Because they resemble, in some of their architectural characteristics, the great houses of Chaco Canyon (in present-day northwestern New Mexico), and because the period of their construction falls within the Chaco "era," these structures in the Mesa Verde region are sometimes viewed as local expressions of Chacoan influence during the late Pueblo II period.1 Although evidence visible on the modern ground surface at Albert Porter Pueblo (for example, the presence of blocked-in kivas and what appears to be two-story construction) suggests that Architectural Block 100 might be a Chaco-era great house, more data are needed to either support or refute such an interpretation. Therefore, one of Crow Canyon's goals in 2002 was to gather additional information about this building, information that would lead to a better understanding of when the complex was built and what purpose it may have served within the village and the community. During 2002, fieldwork in Block 100 focused on the testing of pit structures and the excavation of several units placed along the exterior face of the north wall of the block; a number of test pits were excavated in an associated midden as well.

Nonstructure 102

During the 2002 field season, 10 1-x-1-m units were excavated to test Nonstructure 102, a midden located in the southeastern portion of Architectural Block 100 (Figure 2). Deposits from Nonstructure 102 are probably associated with two pit structures—Structures 117 and 118—to the north; the midden is located downslope from the pit structures, so sediment and artifacts likely washed downhill and collected in this area. As a whole, Nonstructure 102 deposits are the shallowest midden deposits tested on the site to date. This suggests that Structures 117 and 118 were occupied for a shorter period of time than were structures whose associated middens were deeper. Two pit features were found in two 1-x-1-m units in this midden (464N 522E and 471N 540E). Both features were basin-shaped depressions excavated into undisturbed native sediment. The original function(s) of the pits are unknown because both features lacked the distinguishing characteristics that would allow such a determination to be made; their presence, however, is evidence that this part of the site was some sort of extramural use area before it became a trash dump. After the pits fell out of use, they filled with trash that was discarded in this area and/or washed downslope.

Structure 107

Structure 107 is a pit structure located in the south-central portion of the great house (Figure 5). Excavation began in a 2-x-2-m unit (Segment 1) during the 2001 field season. Undisturbed native sediment was found in the northwestern corner of the unit, marking the edge of the pit that was excavated prehistorically to build the pit structure. In 2002, excavation in the 2-x-2-m unit continued through natural, postabandonment sediments until burned roof fall was exposed. The unit was then divided into two 1-x-2-m units, and excavation continued to the structure floor in the eastern unit. Roof-fall deposits contained numerous burned primary beams, which were collected for tree-ring analysis. It appears that the roof had been intentionally burned when the occupants moved from Structure 107, and, at least in the area exposed in the test unit, all artifacts had been removed from the floor before the roof collapsed directly onto it. Two sandstone rocks were in direct contact with the floor surface, creating an ideal context to sample for pollen (which we did). A circular hearth was exposed in the southeastern portion of the 1-x-2-m unit; the northwestern quarter of this feature was excavated. The hearth exhibited evidence of remodeling: several flat pieces of sandstone had been placed on a layer of ash approximately 12 cm thick, creating a new hearth floor. Perhaps at the same time, a new layer of adobe was applied to the floor surface of the pit structure and a new hearth collar was constructed. Approximately 12 liters of ash were collected from above the sandstone lining and approximately 1.5 liters of ash were collected from below the sandstone for flotation analysis. An assessment of when this structure was constructed awaits the results of tree-ring analysis, but preliminary indications (stratigraphic evidence and the fact that the roof was burned) suggest that it was occupied during the Pueblo III period.

Structure 108

Structure 108 is a pit structure located in the southwestern portion of the great house (Figure 5). Excavation began in a 2-x-2-m unit (Segment 1) during the 2001 field season. This pit structure is located within what appears to be the two-story portion of the great house, and a large amount of architectural rubble had collapsed directly into the structure. Excavation continued in the 2-x-2-m unit through architectural debris and natural, postabandonment sediments until a thin lens of burned vegetal material was discovered. This burned vegetal material marked the beginning of the roof-fall deposit. In 2002, the unit was divided into two 1-x-2-m units, and the north unit was excavated through roof-fall sediments until the structure floor was reached. Because the roof was not burned and no evidence of decomposed wood was found, it seems likely that the primary and secondary beams were removed from this structure prehistorically, possibly for reuse elsewhere. A thin lens of vegetal material may have been intentionally placed over the roof sediments and burned to ritually close, or cap, the structure. No artifacts were found on the structure floor, which suggests that most or all items were removed before the roof was dismantled. A circular hearth was exposed in the northeastern portion of the 1-x-2-m unit. The northeastern quarter of the hearth was excavated, and approximately 8 liters of ash were collected for flotation analysis. Stratigraphic evidence, the possible removal of the roof beams for reuse elsewhere, and the results of preliminary pottery analysis indicate that Structure 108 was occupied relatively early in the use of Block 100, probably during the late Pueblo II period.

Structure 110

Structure 110 is a pit structure located in the northwestern portion of the great house (Figure 5). Excavation began in a 2-x-2-m unit during the 2002 field season. Naturally deposited, postabandonment sediments were excavated to a depth of approximately 1.04 m by the end of the field season. Excavation will continue in the spring of 2003.

Structure 111

Structure 111 is a pit structure located in the northwestern portion of the great house (Figure 5). Excavation began in a 2-x-2-m unit during the 2002 field season. Natural, postabandonment sediments were excavated to a depth of approximately 69 cm by the end of the field season. Excavation will continue in the spring of 2003.

Structure 112

Structure 112 is a pit structure located within the two-story portion of the great house (Figure 5). Excavation began in a 2-x-2-m unit during the 2002 field season. A pilaster and a bench were discovered in the southwestern portion of the unit. The pilaster had several layers of white plaster, indicating that the structure might have been occupied for a substantial period of time. A thin layer of teal green plaster was visible on the bench face immediately below the bench surface. Natural fill and architectural debris were excavated to a depth of approximately 91 cm before the end of the field season. Excavation will continue in one-half of the 2-x-2-m unit in the spring of 2003.

Structure 113

Structure 113 is an oversize pit structure located in the north-central portion of the great house (Figure 5). Excavation in this structure began in a 2-x-2-m unit (Segment 1) during the 2001 field season. Excavation continued through natural deposits and a small amount of wall fall until unburned roof-fall deposits were uncovered. Because no clues as to the location of the hearth were observed at this depth, excavation in the 2-x-2-m unit continued into the roof-fall deposit. Partway through the roof fall, a large, vertical-sandstone-slab deflector was exposed, signaling the presence of the hearth immediately to the north. In 2002, the unit was reduced to a 1-x-2-m unit centered in the original 2-x-2-m square (to ensure that the hearth would be exposed), and excavation continued through the remaining unburned roof-fall deposits to the structure floor. Artifacts on the floor included one Mancos Black-on-white sherd, one McElmo Black-on-white sherd, one corrugated gray sherd, a pottery handle fragment, and a core. A large, circular hearth was found in the west-central portion of the 1-x-2-m unit. The southeastern quarter of the hearth was excavated, and approximately 17 liters of ash were collected for flotation analysis. At some point during the use of this structure, the floor surface was replastered and a second hearth collar was constructed. This remodeling suggests that Structure 113 was occupied for a substantial period of time. The absence of roof timbers in the excavated portion of the structure probably indicates that the primary and secondary beams were removed prehistorically. Stratigraphic evidence, the fact that the roof was not burned, and the results of preliminary pottery analysis indicate that Structure 113 was abandoned during the early Pueblo III period.

Structure 115

Structure 115 is a pit structure located in the northeastern portion of the great house (Figure 5). Excavation in this structure began in a 2-x-2-m unit (Segment 1) during the 2001 field season. As excavation continued, undisturbed native sediment was exposed in the southern portion of the unit, indicating that the unit had exposed the southwestern edge of the structure. A thick layer of secondary refuse was found above roof-fall deposits. Wood collected from this refuse in 2001 produced a noncutting date of A.D. 1238vv (Table 3). In 2002, masonry was exposed at the interface between undisturbed native sediment and structure fill. The masonry was approximately four courses tall above the floor surface, indicating that the majority of the masonry had been removed from the bench face before the roof was dismantled. Roof sediments were in direct contact with the floor surface; it appears that the primary and secondary beams had been removed, possibly for reuse elsewhere. Artifacts on the floor included a broken corrugated gray pot, a broken late white ware vessel, various stone items, and unfired clay. These artifacts appeared to be de facto refuse. Stratigraphic evidence, the results of pottery analysis, tree-ring dates, and the fact that the roof beams appear to have been salvaged indicate that Structure 115 was occupied during the late Pueblo II period and the Pueblo III period.

Structure 116

Structure 116 is a pit structure located south of a detached roomblock in the southeastern portion of Architectural Block 100 (Figure 2). Excavation began in a 2-x-2-m unit during the 2002 field season. Natural, postabandonment fill was excavated to a depth of approximately 63 cm before the end of the field season. Excavation will resume in the spring of 2003.

Structure 117

Structure 117 is a pit structure located south of a detached roomblock in the southeastern portion of Architectural Block 100 (Figure 5). Excavation began in a 2-x-2-m unit during the 2002 field season. Naturally deposited fill was excavated to a depth of approximately 1.04 m before roof-fall deposits were exposed. The unit will be reduced to a 1-x-2-m unit and excavation will be completed in 2003.

Structure 118

Structure 118 is a pit structure located in the southeastern portion of the great house (Figure 5). Excavation began in a 2-x-2-m unit (Segment 1) during the 2001 field season and continued through naturally deposited sediments and a layer of secondary refuse until unburned roof-fall deposits were uncovered. In 2002, the 2-x-2-m unit was divided into two 1-x-2-m units, and the western unit was excavated to the floor. It appears that the primary and secondary roof beams were removed when the roof was dismantled; roof sediments rested directly on the floor. Artifacts on the exposed portion of the floor consisted of one McElmo Black-on-white sherd and one Mancos Black-on-white sherd. The neck of a white ware jar was used to line a sipapu that was exposed in the north-central portion of the unit. A circular hearth was found in the southeastern portion of the 1-x-2-m unit. The western half of the hearth was excavated, and approximately 10 liters of ash were collected for flotation analysis. The remaining ash was screened; artifacts collected from the ash include a modified sherd, two white ware sherds, a small flake, two pieces of fire-reddened mudstone, charcoal, and animal bone. Vertical sandstone slabs set in the fill of the hearth are evidence of remodeling. The floor of the structure had been replastered three times, raising the level of the floor and indicating that the structure was occupied for a substantial period of time. Stratigraphic evidence, the types of pottery found on the floor, and the fact that the roof appears to have been dismantled indicate that Structure 118 was occupied during the late Pueblo II and early Pueblo III periods.

Arbitrary Unit 120

Excavation in Arbitrary Unit 120, located in the southeastern portion of Architectural Block 100 (Figure 2), began in a 1-x-2-m unit during the 2002 field season. This unit was placed perpendicular to the roomblock and positioned to expose the exterior face of the north wall of the roomblock. Natural fill was excavated to a depth of approximately 35 cm by the end of the field season. A 1-m section of the exterior face of the wall was exposed in the southern portion of the 1-x-2-m unit. Three preserved courses of masonry appear to be McElmo-style construction—that is, they consist of fairly large, blocky sandstone rocks, and no chinking was observed in the mortar; this style of construction is common in the Mesa Verde region. Excavation will continue in the cultural fill below the wall in the spring of 2003.

Arbitrary Unit 121

Excavation in Arbitrary Unit 121, located in the northeastern portion of Architectural Block 100 (Figure 2), began in a 1-x-2-m unit during the 2002 field season. This unit was placed perpendicular to the roomblock and positioned to expose the exterior face of the north wall of the roomblock. Natural and cultural deposits were excavated to a depth of approximately 66 cm before the end of the field season. A portion of the exterior face of the north wall of the roomblock was exposed in the southern portion of the 1-x-2-m unit, but this wall face was partly obscured by a masonry room that had been added onto the roomblock sometime after the original construction. The northwest corner of this room, which was not assigned a structure number in 2002, extended into the southeastern portion of the 1-x-2-m unit. The coursing of both the north wall of the roomblock and the northwest corner of the added-on room appeared to be McElmo-style construction. Excavation will continue in cultural fill below these walls in the spring of 2003.

Arbitrary Unit 122

Excavation in Arbitrary Unit 122, located in the northwestern portion of what appears to be the multistory section of Architectural Block 100 (Figure 2), began in a 1-x-2-m unit during the 2002 field season. Natural, postabandonment fill and architectural debris were excavated to a depth of approximately 50 cm before secondary refuse was found. The secondary refuse was in two distinct strata. The pottery in the upper stratum was dominated by McElmo Black-on-white sherds, and the pottery in the lower stratum was dominated by Mancos Black-on-white sherds. The Mancos Black-on-white sherds were first observed at approximately the same elevation as the wall foundation. This type of pottery was also found below the foundation, suggesting that the masonry was laid on an occupational surface that dated from the late Pueblo II period.

Two masonry walls were present in the 1-x-2-m unit. The east-west wall, located in the southern portion of the unit, is the north wall of the Block 100 roomblock, and it is constructed of McElmo-style masonry. This wall is abutted in the southwest corner of the test unit by a north-south wall that looks distinctly different from other masonry walls exposed on the site to date. The lower courses of the exposed portion of this latter wall consist of relatively large, blocky sandstone rocks set in mortar with no chinking, similar to what was described earlier for McElmo-style masonry; the upper courses consist of thinner, elongated, tabular pieces of sandstone set in mortar with abundant chinking, similar to masonry styles observed in Chaco Canyon. This construction technique—that is, the incorporation of distinct bands of masonry within a given wall—is called "banded" or "course-patterned" masonry, and in the Block 100 wall, it is clear that the exposed portion was built in a single construction event. On the modern ground surface, this same wall looks like it might be of thick, double-stone-with-core construction (see the glossary of architectural terms in the on-line field manual), similar in some of its details to the "core-and-veneer" masonry long-regarded as a hallmark of Chacoan architecture. Our testing in 2002 did not expose the wall cross section, however, so it is not possible to positively identify the construction technique. Excavation in this unit will continue below the foundation stones in the spring of 2003.

Architectural Block 200

Nonstructure 201

During the 2002 field season, 15 1-x-1-m units were excavated to test Nonstructure 201, a midden located in the southeastern portion of the site (Figure 2). Nonstructure 201 is most likely associated with three pit structures whose presence is indicated by resistivity anomalies located approximately 10 m north of the midden (Figure 4 and Figure 6). Two pit features were found in different 1-x-1-m units (418N 569E and 414N 569E) in Nonstructure 201. Both features were basin-shaped pits excavated into undisturbed native sediment. The original function(s) of the pits are unknown because both features lacked the distinguishing characteristics that would allow such a determination to be made; their presence, however, is evidence that this part of the site was some sort of extramural use area before it became a trash dump. After the pits fell out of use, they filled with trash that was discarded in the midden area.

Architectural Block 300

Structure 302

Structure 302 is a pit structure located in the southeastern portion of the site (Figure 2). Excavation began in a 2-x-2-m unit (Segment 1) during the 2001 field season. Excavation in the 2-x-2-m unit continued through natural, postabandonment fill until, in 2002, a thin lens of burned vegetal material was exposed, which defined the uppermost extent of roof fall. The unit was then divided into two 1-x-2-m units, and the eastern unit was excavated to the floor. The roofing sediments lacked primary and secondary beams; therefore, it is assumed that the beams were removed when the roof was dismantled. The roofing sediments were in direct contact with the floor. One artifact (a mano fragment) rested on the portion of the floor that was exposed. A coursed masonry deflector was exposed in the south-central portion of the 1-x-2-m unit. The deflector had been damaged and/or robbed of stone—the top courses were missing. A circular hearth was present approximately 22 cm north of the deflector. The northeastern quarter of the hearth was excavated, and approximately 11.5 liters of ash were collected for flotation analysis. Stratigraphic evidence, the fact that the roof appears to have been dismantled, and the types of pottery recovered from the fill above the floor indicate that Structure 302 was occupied during the Pueblo II period.

Structure 303

Structure 303 is a pit structure located east of Structure 302, in the southeastern portion of the site (Figure 2). Excavation began in a 2-x-2-m unit (Segment 1) during the 2001 field season. By the end of that season, we had excavated to a depth of approximately 68 cm. The fill consisted of natural, postabandonment deposits. Because Structure 303 is located immediately east of Structure 302, it is assumed that the two structures were constructed at the same time. Although we originally intended to continue excavation in Structure 303 in 2002, time constraints prevented us from doing so. This structure will not be excavated further.

Arbitrary Unit 305

Excavation in Arbitrary Unit 305, located along the north wall of the Block 300 roomblock (Figure 2), began in a 1-x-2-m unit during the 2002 field season. This unit was oriented perpendicular to the roomblock and was placed to expose the exterior face of the north wall. Architectural debris and natural, postabandonment fill were removed to a depth of approximately 18 cm before the end of the 2002 field season. The top course of a north-south wall was exposed in the southern portion of the unit. Excavation will continue in this unit in the spring of 2003.

Architectural Block 400

Arbitrary Unit 405

Excavation in Arbitrary Unit 405, located along the north wall of the Block 400 roomblock (Figure 2), began in a 1-x-2-m unit during the 2002 field season. This unit was oriented perpendicular to the roomblock and was placed to expose the exterior face of the north wall. Architectural debris and natural, postabandonment fill were excavated to a depth of approximately 15 cm before the end of the 2002 field season. Excavation will continue in the spring of 2003.

Architectural Block 600

Nonstructure 601

During the 2002 field season, 15 1-x-1-m units were excavated to test Nonstructure 601, a midden located in the southwestern portion of the site (Figure 2). Nonstructure 601 is most likely associated with a pit structure located to the north, Structure 602. Nonstructure 601 deposits are generally very shallow, which suggests a short occupation span for Architectural Block 600. Two pit features and one possible burial were found in this nonstructure. Both pit features (located in test units 436N 478E and 439N 458E) were basin-shaped depressions excavated into undisturbed native sediment. The original use(s) of the pits are unknown, but the features appear to be on an extramural use surface. Secondary refuse accumulated in the pits after they were no longer used for their original purpose(s). The possible burial (location omitted) was identified when a left temporal bone fragment from a subadult (age 4–12 years) was uncovered in a possible burial pit. The bone was analyzed in situ, and excavation ceased; the unit has been backfilled.

Structure 602

Structure 602 is a pit structure located in the southwestern portion of the site (Figure 2). Excavation began in a 2-x-2-m unit during the 2002 field season. Naturally deposited, postabandonment fill was excavated to a depth of approximately 24 cm before the end of the 2002 field season. Excavation will resume in the spring of 2003.

Architectural Block 800

Nonstructure 801

During the 2002 field season, 15 1-x-1-m units were excavated to test Nonstructure 801, a midden deposit located in the northwestern portion of the site (Figure 2). Nonstructure 801 is most likely associated with two structures whose presence is indicated by resistivity anomalies to the north. The secondary refuse deposits were generally deeper here than in most middens tested on the site to date, suggesting a lengthy occupation in Architectural Block 800. Three features were found in Nonstructure 801: two pit features and one possible burial. Both pit features (located in test units 557N 503E and 558N 504E) were basin-shaped depressions excavated into undisturbed native sediments. The original function(s) of the pits are unknown because both features lacked the distinguishing characteristics that would allow such a determination to be made; their presence, however, is evidence that this part of the site was some sort of extramural use area before it became a trash dump. After the pits fell out of use, they filled with trash that was discarded in the midden area. The possible burial (location omitted) was exposed when a small fragment of the superior cranium of an infant (age 1–3 years) was exposed within a possible burial pit. The bone was analyzed in situ, excavation ceased, and the unit was backfilled. Preliminary pottery analysis indicates that the majority of sherds from Nonstructure 801 are Mancos Black-on-white and McElmo Black-on-white. The presence of these pottery types indicates that Architectural Block 800 was occupied in the late Pueblo II and early Pueblo III periods.

Architectural Block 900

Nonstructure 901

During the 2002 field season, 15 1-x-1-m units were excavated to test Nonstructure 901, a midden located in the north-central portion of the site (Figure 2). Nonstructure 901 is most likely associated with Structures 903 and 904 (pit structures) to the north and with multiple other structures indicated by resistivity anomalies both north of and within the horizontal extent of Nonstructure 901. The secondary refuse was the deepest tested on the site to date, suggesting that Architectural Block 900 was occupied for a significant length of time. Eleven features were found in eight 1-x-1-m units—six pit features, three possible burials, one burial pit, and one possible metate bin.

In 1-x-1-m unit 545N 526E, three pit features that were not detected during excavation were exposed in the north and east profile faces. These basin-shaped pits originated on three different surfaces and were intrusive into the lower deposits of secondary refuse; all three pits were covered with more secondary refuse after they were no longer used for their original purpose(s). The earliest of the three surfaces was approximately 96 cm below the modern ground surface, and it consisted of the plane of contact between undisturbed native sediment and the overlying midden deposit; it is also believed to be the floor of a possible Pueblo II structure, designated Structure 907. Visible in the west profile face of the test unit, at the same elevation as the Structure 907 surface, were several sandstone slabs that were probably associated with a metate bin discovered in the approximate center of the test unit. The bin, too, is believed to be associated with Structure 907; the horizontal sandstone slabs observed in the west profile face were probably used to prop up a metate for grinding. Structure 907 is associated with an electrical-resistance anomaly (A-16) identified from the 2001 survey (Figure 4 and Figure 6).

Also in Nonstructure 901, 1-x-1-m units 555N 530E, 552N 531E, and 543N 534E all contained pit features. The features were basin-shaped pits excavated into undisturbed native sediment. The original function(s) of the pits are unknown because the features lacked the distinguishing characteristics that would allow such a determination to be made; their presence, however, is evidence that this part of the site was some sort of extramural use area before it became a trash dump. After the pits fell out of use, they filled with trash that was discarded in the midden area.

In another 1-x-1-m unit in Nonstructure 901 (location omitted), a possible burial was found in midden deposits at an approximate depth of 80 cm below modern ground surface. Skeletal remains exposed included an adult tibia midshaft fragment, a distal phalanx, and a premolar. The remains are thought to have been from an individual more than 12 years of age. The individual was accompanied by two vessels, an incomplete Mummy Lake jar and a complete, miniature Chaco-McElmo Black-on-white pitcher. The human remains, as well as both vessels, were analyzed in situ, excavation ceased, and the unit was backfilled.

In three contiguous Nonstructure 901 1-x-1-m units (locations omitted), secondary refuse was excavated to a depth of approximately 30 cm when a possible burial was uncovered. The remains were disarticulated and scattered as a result of bioturbation. The remains are of a possible female, 30 to 35 years of age, and consisted of the following: a superior sacrum fragment, an os coxa fragment, a foot phalanx, three rib fragments, a left lower rib, a left scapula, a fibula midshaft fragment, a tibia midshaft fragment, a long-bone shaft fragment, and a left rib condyle fragment. The remains were analyzed in situ, excavation ceased, and the units were backfilled.

The third possible burial in Nonstructure 901 was found in a pit feature in yet another 1-x-1-m unit (location omitted). This feature was found after we had excavated through secondary refuse to a depth of approximately 80 cm. A small section of a child's superior cranial fragment was exposed. The remains were analyzed in situ, excavation ceased, and the unit was backfilled.

Structure 903

Structure 903, a pit structure in the northeastern portion of the site, is located directly west of Structure 904 (Figure 2). Excavation began in a 2-x-2-m unit during the 2002 field season. Naturally deposited, postabandonment fill was excavated to a depth of approximately 81 cm before the end of the field season. Excavation will continue in the spring of 2003.

Structure 904

Structure 904 is a pit structure located east of Structure 903, in the northeastern portion of the site (Figure 2). Excavation began in a 2-x-2-m unit during the 2002 field season. Naturally deposited, postabandonment fill was excavated to a depth of approximately 87 cm before the end of the field season. Excavation will continue in the spring of 2003.

Arbitrary Unit 905

Excavation in Arbitrary Unit 905, located in the north-central portion of the site (Figure 2), began in a 1-x-2-m unit during the 2002 field season. This test unit was oriented perpendicular to the Block 900 roomblock and was placed to expose the exterior face of the roomblock's north wall. The wall was uncovered in the southern portion of the unit, and excavation revealed foundation stones underlying the masonry coursing. These foundation stones had been placed directly on top of a burned roof-fall stratum, clearly indicating that there was an earlier occupation in this area, one that predates the construction of the masonry roomblock. Excavation continued through natural, postabandonment deposits, burned roof-fall sediments and, finally, a lens of secondary refuse, before a surface of undisturbed native sediment was exposed. The surface contained two posthole features. One posthole still contained a portion of a post, which was collected as a tree-ring sample.

Summary of Work Completed To Date

During the 2001 field season, Crow Canyon's research at Albert Porter Pueblo focused on the test excavation of middens and pit structures; in 2002, we expanded the types of contexts tested to include the modern ground surface and the exterior faces of the north walls of roomblocks. By the end of the 2002 field season, we had excavated 111 1-x-1-m units in middens (Architectural Blocks 100, 200, 300, 400, 500, 600, 800, and 900) and 21 2-x-2-m units in pit structures (Blocks 100, 300, 400, 500, 600, and 900). To date, 13 of the units in pit structures have been completed; the remaining eight will be completed in 2003.

At the beginning of the 2002 season, we concentrated on completing the surface artifact collection from a 3-m-radius circle in the center of every 20-x-20-m grid square on the site. The surface collection allowed us to define areas of high, moderate, and low artifact density. This information was used in conjunction with the map showing the locations of architectural blocks to help us define the boundaries and layout of the site. Analysis of the artifacts collected from the modern ground surface will be used—along with excavation data—to determine the chronology of each architectural block at Albert Porter.

A limited effort was made to define walls within the great house (Architectural Block 100). The top course of selected walls was exposed. From this information, a preliminary map was drafted in AutoCAD (Figure 5) that shows rooms and kivas, including wall bondings and abutments. We used this map to decide where to place the 1-x-2-m units that exposed masonry on the northern exterior face of the great house. The map will also help us plan which rooms (between five and 10) to test during the 2003 field season.

Six 1-x-2-m test trenches were excavated to expose the exterior faces of the north walls of the roomblocks in Architectural Blocks 100, 300, 400, and 900. The resultant data are being used to reconstruct the occupational history of the site and to evaluate the extent of Chacoan influence. Our goal is to excavate the test trenches down to the top of undisturbed native sediment, which approximates the ancient ground surface when occupation of Albert Porter Pueblo began. Excavation of one of the six trenches was completed during the 2002 field season; the remainder will be completed in 2003.

In July 2001, an electrical-resistance survey was conducted on 40 20-x-20-m grid units (a total of 16,000 m2) (Figure 4). The results of the survey indicated the presence of 36 possible pit structures, multiple linear features, and a number of possible middens and surface rooms. The presence of the possible pit structure anomalies more than doubles the number of pit structures identified from evidence visible on the modern ground surface (Figure 6). During the spring of 2002, a proposal was accepted by The Archaeological Conservancy allowing Crow Canyon to test each anomaly with an auger to confirm the presence and type of cultural feature present. The results indicated that all the anomalies were, in fact, cultural features and that 33 of the 36 possible pit structure anomalies were deep enough for us to interpret them as pit structures. The proposal also allows an additional two field seasons (2003–2004) for the limited testing of selected pit structures and associated middens, consistent with current research objectives and excavation strategies. These excavations will begin in the spring of 2003.

Goals for the 2003 Field Season

Work during the 2003 field season will follow the original research design that guided the first and second (2001–2002) field seasons at Albert Porter Pueblo. All 2-x-2-m units located in Architectural Blocks 100, 600, and 900 that were not completed in 2002 will be finished in 2003. Excavation of 50 new 1-x-1-m midden units will begin in four areas concentrated around the great house (Architectural Block 100). The five unfinished 1-x-2-m wall units will be completed during the 2003 season, and three additional units will be excavated to expose the exterior face of the north wall of the great house (Architectural Block 100). Finally, we will begin test excavations (1-x-2-m units) in five to 10 rooms within the great house in 2003.

All pottery and stone artifacts collected from Albert Porter Pueblo during the 2002 season will be prepared for analysis in January 2003. Animal bone, flotation samples, and pollen samples will be analyzed after fieldwork is completed in 2004. Continued research in 2003 will further add to our understanding of this significant site and its relationship to other communities in the northern San Juan region.

1For further discussion of Chaco and the Chaco regional system, refer to Doyel (1992*1), Kantner and Mahoney (2000*1), and Mills (2002*1).


Research Field Personnel, 2002 Field Season

Susan Ryan

Project director

Erin Baxter

Research archaeologist

Jesse Murrell

Research archaeologist

Laura Martin

Research intern and research archaeologist

Jaclyn Mullen

Research intern

Ben Norman

Research intern

Timothy Sinnott

Research intern

Lonnie Ludeman

Research volunteer

Robin Lyle

Research volunteer

Education Staff Personnel, 2002 Field Season

   Scott Campbell
   Margie Connolly
   Elaine Davis
   Paul Ermigiotti
   Shaine Gans
   Rebecca Hammond
   Lew Matis
   Sean Steele
   Ginny Bonavia (intern)
   Courtney Brocks (intern)
   Jacob Culbertson (intern)

How to cite this publication.

REMINDER: Archaeological resources are protected by federal laws, and archaeological research is guided by a set of professional ethics. See Archaeological Ethics and Law.

© Copyright 2003 by Crow Canyon Archaeological Center. All rights reserved.