Today I worked with Ian Bates and Lori Barkwill-Love at Round Mountain (AZ:CC:4:61 (ASM)) on Test Unit 4, which is a 1x1m unit just inside a terrace wall. When digging in Test Unit 4, we found this white chert core in level two of the unit at roughly 50-60 cm below the datum. What I found particularly interesting was that the exterior of the core was made of chert, whereas the interior was calcium carbonate. When rubbed with finger, the carbonate leaves a white residue much like chalk. In fact, chalk is a form of calcium carbonate however, I cannot confidently identify this object’s material as chalk. Calcium carbonate is a combination of carbon, oxygen, and calcium and is believed to have been formed indirectly due to an organism intrusion. An example may be a bacteria or a secreting organism such as a bug or ant. We all found this particularly interesting since a core is the beginning rock that is struck for the creation of stone tools, and although chert is a widely used rock for tool creation, calcium carbonate is rarely used for flaking stones for tool production.
Today was the last day on the Duncan Doughnut site (AZ:CC:4:63 (ASM)). This whole week we uncovered well preserved bones, charcoal, and flaked stone debitage on a site that could be a sheet midden. I learned a lot working on this unit along with Dr. Hard and Ashley Jones. We started off with a 50 x 50 cm unit because of the slope. And because of this I also learned how to stair step the unit. Going down by 10 centimeters each level the length of the unit kept extending to a point where we needed to stair step to see a lower level without extending it too far and removing a cultural feature. This site really helped me get to know what excavating was about, and it was exciting. We made sure that each level was measured correctly and the forms of each unit were completed before we moved on to the next level, especially being vigilant about our bag log numbers. I was getting into the rhythm of documenting and excavating. During the screening process, however, I needed Ashley’s assistance every time I came upon a heat spall, which I thought were flaked stone debitage pieces, but were in fact pieces of rock that pop off when a rock is put into a fire. But within time my eyes started to focus on shapes and colors to find artifacts, charcoal, and bone. Today was the day when we finally hit soil change. From the ashy soil to orange brown, indicating the end of the sheet midden. Everything that we did this week lead up to this and I was happy to see this until the end of the excavation.
Today was a spectacular day and truly a rare opportunity. Dr. Art MacWilliams, Hayley Fishbeck, David Barron, and I explored a Cerro de Trincheras site nicknamed the Sanchez site just outside the town of Safford, Arizona. Our crew meandered around the site, performing informal survey, and located constructed terraces and walls, over 80 rock ring structures, and an array of cultural material such as flaked stone, Early Pithouse ceramic sherds, and groundstone. At the end of the work day even though we were ready to leave, we still took the time to take in the view of this beautiful landscape and bask in an opportunity of a lifetime.
Working on the survey team has been amazing! The Duncan Valley is so rich in archaeology, yet so understudied. We first surveyed, identified diagnostic materials, and mapped a fascinating Post-Classic Mimbres site with 50-60 rooms that’s very near our primary archaeological field site near Duncan, Arizona. The ceramic sherds are lovely, and give us clues about the age of the site and its continuity of occupation. The only drawback was the snakes…including at least one rattlesnake. I had the bright idea of looking for artifacts under mesquite bushes and was a little too close for comfort to one. Note to self: avoid reaching under foliage after a good rain or on a cool morning. It will not end well.
The next day (6/18/15) we surveyed in the area adjacent to the Post-Classic site and found…drum roll…a pithouse grouping and lots of very early ceramic sherd!! It’s pretty clear from our work in the Duncan Valley that people have been living along this stretch of the Upper Gila for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. It’s wonderful to get a sense of that continuity. Maybe an excavation here next year? But in the meantime, we’ll initiate a new survey tomorrow and hopefully discover another site!
My day was spent surveying the eastern base of Round Mountain. It was my task to flag important flaked stone and ceramic artifacts on site SF-04. John Roney briefly explained the diagnostic attributes of flaked stone I needed to look for, such as the bulb of percussion and the striking platform, as well as how to distinguish between rocks and ceramic sherds before I scanned the ground. We then moved on to an early 1900s railroad camp where I learned how to create a survey site map. I was in charge of drawing the site map and documenting all artifacts found within the map. It was a very productive day that included a small side step into historical archaeology, which included artifacts such as pieces of varying colors of glass and bullet cartridges from varying caliber sizes.
Today I was apart of the survey team led by John Roney and Mary Whisenhunt. We learned how to use a GPS to record discovered artifacts and to create site outline points for site mapping, both on paper and in GIS digital mapping. These two pictures show two of the sites discovered near the base of the Round Mountain by the survey team. The first site, located on a river terrace overlooking the Gila River, is a possible post- Mimbres site based on the pottery sherds found around the site’s several masonry pueblo roomblocks. The second photo shows a rock ring not unlike the ones found at the top of Round Mountain. This site was also found on a river terrace overlooking the Gila and held two projectile points that date the site to a similar period as the Round Mountain site. Both sites were previously undocumented by archaeologists.
Our first group field trip (06/13/15) was to the Gila Cliff Dwellings in the Gila National Forest. The ancient puebloans of the Mogollon area of the North American Southwest. Dendrochronological dates collected from wall wooden posts from this site places occupation to approximately 1275 AD.
Another fascinating aspect of the Gila Cliff Dwellings tour was the rock art in different areas of the park. The group explored different areas surrounding the main dwellings and located various rock art drawings created with a red organic paint.