Crow Canyon's research at Yellow Jacket Pueblo (Site 5MT5) was conducted
as part of the Village Testing Project. As part of this larger effort,
which is described more fully in Ortman
et al. (2000*1), we also tested two other large, late, village sites:
Woods Canyon Pueblo, 11 km southwest of Yellow Jacket Pueblo (Churchill
2002*1; Crow Canyon Archaeological
Center 2003*1), and Hedley Ruin, on a tributary of Monument Canyon
near the Colorado-Utah border in southeastern Utah (Ortman
et al. 2000*1:135141). The primary goal of the Village Testing
Project was to clarify the history of occupation of these villages; the
overarching research goal was to better understand the aggregation that
occurred during the late Pueblo II and Pueblo III periods (A.D. 10501300)
and the depopulation of the region in the late A.D. 1200s (Wilshusen
Yellow Jacket Pueblo was selected for testing because it is the largest
known site in the Mesa Verde region, it appeared to have been occupied
during the late Pueblo II and the Pueblo III periods, and very little
was known about it. The specific goals of our research were (1) to create
a complete, detailed, and accurate map of the site using a total station
surveying instrument (Database Map 263); (2) to document the types
and extent of historic damage to the site (Kuckelman
and Glowacki 1995*1; see also, for example, Database Map 267);
and (3) to refine the site chronology through limited test excavations
(see "Chronology"). A more detailed
discussion of the research design is presented in Wilshusen
Our testing at Yellow Jacket Pueblo was designed to generate the greatest
body of interpretable data with the least disturbance to intact deposits.
We excavated 112 test pits with a total area of 167 m2. To
sample and document buried remains from earlier occupations, all test
pits were excavated either to undisturbed native sediment or to bedrock.
We used three different testing strategies. The first was to excavate
a 1-x-2-m pit along the north, or exterior, face of the north wall of
each visible roomblock, or portion of roomblock, on land on which we had
permission to excavate (Database Map 266). By exposing the outside
face of each roomblock we could document the architectural style of the
roomblock masonry and record the full stratigraphic sequence of occupation
(in at least one location within each architectural block) without excavating
through structure floors. We define an architectural block as a roomblock
with its associated kivas, middens, and extramural surfaces.
The second strategy involved the excavation of at least two 1-x-1-m pits
in what appeared, from evidence on the modern ground surface, to be the
midden area within each visible architectural block. These pits were excavated
to provide enough pottery sherds to allow us to determine the time of
occupation of each tested architectural block, as well as to detect and
sample remains that might predate the block. When too few pottery sherds
were found in the first two pits excavated, additional pits were dug to
ensure an adequate data set for that block.
The third strategy was to test several structures in the great tower complex
(Architectural Block 1200). The purpose of this strategy was, first, to
determine whether this architectural block was indeed the area that had
been partly excavated and then backfilled in 1931 by field school students
from the Museum of Western State College in Gunnison, Colorado. Only very
limited documentation has been found from this earlier excavation. Our
second goal, once we verified that Block 1200 was in fact the previously
excavated area, was to further test several of the structures and salvage
as much information as possible from these disturbed contexts. This block
was of particular interest to us because (1) it appeared to have been
constructed in the mid to late A.D. 1200s and, thus, to have been
one of the latest constructions at the site; (2) it was similar to late,
defensive-looking, canyon-rim structures at other sites; (3) it had a
very high room-to-kiva ratio (about 1:1); and (4) it enclosed a spring.
These characteristics led to the inference that this was an important
structure built late in the occupation of the village and region. This
block was also possibly the only major public architecture we had permission
to test. Two other structures suspected of being public architecture at
this sitea probable great kiva (Architectural Block 1800) and a
possible Chacoan great house (Architectural Block 1800)were not
located on the portion of the site owned by The Archaeological Conservancy,
and therefore we were unable to test them.
To make our investigation of Yellow Jacket Pueblo as complete and comprehensive
as possible, we attempted to find all curated artifacts and documents
associated with previous, nonprofessional excavations at this site and
to use these data in our research (Wilshusen
1996*1). At least 500 complete or partial vessels from this site are
housed in curation facilities in various locations throughout Colorado,
including Boulder, Gunnison, Dolores, and Durango (Wilshusen
1996*1:2). Notes and maps from the Chappell Collection (housed in
the Anasazi Heritage Center, Dolores, Colorado) were used in defining
the chronology of the pueblo, especially for a key portion of the site
containing the great kiva, which we were not permitted to test (see Database
Site-Specific Research Questions
Site-specific questions from the Yellow Jacket Pueblo research design
are presented below. Each research question is followed by one or more
links to relevant sources of information, primarily chapters in this publication.
When was the village occupied?
How many people lived in the village?
How many architectural blocks, rooms, kivas, and towers were in the village?
Is the block referred to by the Museum of Western State College as "square
mug house" (Hurst and Lotrich
1932*1) the same as our great tower complex?
How was the great tower complex used?
Jacket Pueblo (Site 5MT5) as Community Center, Faunal
Remains, Archaeobotanical Remains
How rapidly did aggregation occur in this community?
Jacket Pueblo (Site 5MT5) as Community Center
What was the role of Yellow Jacket Pueblo in the larger community?
Yellow Jacket Pueblo (Site 5MT5) as Community
What is the evidence relating to subsistence at Yellow Jacket Pueblo?
Remains, Archaeobotanical Remains
What types of public architecture are represented in the village?
How much damage has the site suffered in historic times?
Database Map 267; see also the Yellow Jacket Site Management and
Protection Plan by Kuckelman
and Glowacki (1995*1).
References cited | To borrow, cite, or request permission