Ridgeline Excavation: June 14

After today, the field school students only have three more days of excavation at our sites. Three more days to answer our burning questions, and for some of us, figure out what is going on in our units! A couple of us at the Ridgeline site have been working on a unit placed over some possible circular storage rooms for the past few weeks. These storage rooms were built by setting large sandstone slabs upright into some adobe, posts placed in between, and a hatched roof on top.

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Storage rooms! Notice the upright sandstone slabs toward the left.

So far, it looks like the majority of our unit falls in a space between storage rooms, so most of our work has been trying to excavate down to the prehistoric ground surface in this area to better define the boundaries of the walls. While we’ve identified the boundaries of one large storage room, there might still be another on the other side of the unit that we’ve yet to expose.

An exciting find today was an intact turquoise pendant! It was found in that space outside of our storage rooms (which raises questions as to how it got there) and is beautifully shaped and polished smooth.

So, I would be lying if I didn’t admit that after finding this I just wanted to put it on a string and wear it forever. But in archaeology, its not about the pendants or the pottery or projectile points you find and how cool they are, its about what we can learn from them. Where did this piece of turquoise come from? What did they use to smooth and shape this? Was it shaped here at this site, or was it traded here from some far off community? How did it get to where we found it today? Questions that can never be answered if someone removes it from its context. Sure a shiny pendant is cool, but learning about the person who wore this and treasured it over a thousand years ago seems much more interesting to me.

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Excavation also continued at the pithouse today, however we all took a break to learn how to make plan view maps of our site.

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Plan view of the northeast quadrant of the pithouse.

Plan view maps are used to get a birds-eye view of what your structure or feature looks like, which is often hard to picture when you’re down in the dirt. As we continue excavation, these maps will be used to plot things like where are walls slope downward, any postholes or dendro samples, special artifacts (like pendants!), and any objects resting on the floor of the structure.

Tomorrow will be another day of excavation, so we’ll see what new questions pop up then!

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