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About This Publication
List of Tables
List of Illustrations
Research Design
Population Estimates
Faunal Remains
Archaeobotanical Remains
Human Skeletal Remains
Rock Art
Yellow Jacket Pueblo as Community Center


by Kristin A. Kuckelman

Yellow Jacket Pueblo (Site 5MT5) was a large village in what today is southwestern Colorado. The site is located in the central Mesa Verde region, defined by Varien (2000*1:Figure 1) to include portions of both southwestern Colorado and southeastern Utah. Yellow Jacket Pueblo is believed to have been the center of a larger community that included an unknown number of smaller sites in the vicinity of the large village. Archaeologists from the Crow Canyon Archaeological Center, with the assistance of participants in the Center's educational programs, conducted test excavations at Yellow Jacket Pueblo from 1995 through 1997. The data generated as a result of those excavations indicate that the village was occupied from the mid–A.D. 1000s through the late A.D. 1200s, which corresponds to the late Pueblo II through Pueblo III periods.

With permission from various landowners, we were able to map the entire site (Database Map 263). We were permitted to excavate, however, only on the portions owned by The Archaeological Conservancy and on one parcel of land on the southwest talus slope owned jointly by Joe Tipton and Jack Hawkins, both now deceased. Our research was designed to disturb the site as little as possible: we limited our excavations to three seasons and confined much of our testing to disturbed contexts such as the great tower complex. Although we excavated only 112 units, encompassing 167 m2, or .04 percent, of this nearly 100-acre site (Database Map 264), we accomplished a great deal. The success of this approach to excavation can be measured by the quantity and quality of data and interpretations contained in the database and in these interpretive chapters.

A substantial amount of archaeological research has been conducted in the Yellow Jacket community. In 1931, at Yellow Jacket Pueblo itself (Site 5MT5), a field school from the Museum of Western State College in Gunnison, Colorado, excavated a number of structures in the great tower complex (Database Map 263). We reexcavated several of these structures (see "Research Design" and "Architecture" for additional information on both excavations). Research on possible archaeoastronomical alignments at Site 5MT5 and between Site 5MT5 and other sites within the Yellow Jacket community was conducted by Malville (1991*1:16), who also briefly discussed a monolith at the southeast corner of Architectural Block 2600 and an "ash cave" below the south canyon rim at Yellow Jacket Pueblo. Two areas recorded as separate sites—5MT7 and 5MT5771—are believed by Crow Canyon researchers to be part of Site 5MT5; however, because they are registered as separate sites with the Office of the State Archaeologist (Colorado Historical Society, Denver), I have maintained that distinction here (Database Map 263). Site 5MT7 consists of buildings and artifacts associated with a shallow overhang along the east canyon rim. Site 5MT5771 is an artifact scatter in a cultivated field at the north end of Site 5MT5. These areas were not tested by Crow Canyon and are not discussed further in these chapters.

Finally, this report would not be complete without mention of the many years of field school excavations that Joe Ben Wheat supervised for the University of Colorado Museum at the small sites southwest of Yellow Jacket Pueblo (Sites 5MT1, 5MT2, and 5MT3; see Database Map 335). Numerous papers, theses, and research projects have resulted from the excavations at those sites. Notable publications include Cater (1989*1), Karhu (2000*1), Lange et al. (1986*1), Malville (1989*1), Mobley-Tanaka (1997*2), and Yunker (2001*1). A complete list of works is available from the University

This publication presents site-wide interpretations based on data contained in The Yellow Jacket Pueblo Database, a separate publication that is intended as a companion piece to this work. The reader is strongly encouraged to review the database before proceeding, for it contains detailed descriptions and interpretations of individual study units, including information on features, point-located artifacts, masonry styles, stratigraphy, building construction, and structure dating. The database also contains more than 70 AutoCAD maps and 800 color photographs, only a small fraction of which are specifically cited in the chapters of this publication. A substantial amount and variety of background information about Yellow Jacket Pueblo and Crow Canyon's work there can be found in the "Site-Wide Data" section of the database, and additional descriptive information about the environment of the immediate site area is contained in this publication, in the chapter titled "Subsistence."

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