University of Virginia Library


Irrespective of size, Old Bonitian rooms were floored with trampled
mud and ceiled with whatever materials were near at hand.
Cottonwood, pine, pinyon, or juniper logs—their ends gnawed beaverlike
with stone axes—appear to have been utilized indiscriminately;
brush of one sort or another was employed over the logs in Rooms 1,
3a, 3b, 28, 35a, 56, 320, 323, 327, and 330; reeds or grass are reported
from at least 2 ceilings, in Rooms 3d and 85; cornstalks were included
in the ceiling of Room 85. Weak beams and those shallowly
seated in wall masonry necessitated supporting posts. Nearly every
Old Bonitian room, no matter how small, had one or more ceiling


Page 59

Room 323, averaging 13 by 35 feet, is one of four large living
rooms, each with two storerooms at the rear, that comprised the
original west arm of Old Bonito. Despite its size, 323 is perhaps
typical of its time. Its floor was ill-defined, no more than a thin,
dark ash layer upon the sand. In this, strangely enough, only one
fireplace appeared—a nearly square, slab-lined fireplace 12 inches
deep, its east side formed by a discarded metate. Buried rim-deep
for storage at the south end of the room were five outworn cooking
pots—plain bodied with banded neck.

Eight sturdy posts were required to support the ceiling of
Room 323, and two of them were cut 16 years earlier than the beams
they braced. Although mostly decayed when found, each post was
of straight-grained pine 7-8 inches in diameter and stood on a sandstone
slab in a dug hole, packed about with slab fragments on end
and shale chips between fragments and post. In some instances posts
were surrounded individually by a conical base of adobe mud, 6-8
inches thick at the crown (pl. 11, left). Ceiling poles rested upon
the beams to support layered cedarbark and brush and mud for the
second-story floor.

Being a living room, 323 had entrances in all four walls and all at
an unusual height. That at the northeast, its sides broken out when
Room 112 was excavated, was 4½ feet above the floor. Three southeast
doors, all blocked, were so high as to require post steps. One of
these three, its sill at a height of 38 inches, had been closed upon construction
of fourth-type Kiva Z; another, 6 feet 2 inches above floor
level, likewise reflects Kiva Z influence since Late Bonitian masons
had introduced new jambs and a hewn pine plank for a sill. Dislodged
when the surrounding masonry collapsed during excavation,
this sill plank measures 31½ by 5 by 1¾ inches and has since been
added to the national collections (U.S.N.M. No. 335275). Through
its three southeast doorways Room 323 had ready access to the West
Court before pre-Kiva Z rooms were built in front.

Low or high, Old Bonitian doorways are very much alike.
Although basically rectangular, most appear more or less oval because
their thickly mudded jambs curve up to the lintel poles and down
to the sill slab. Storeroom doors were ordinarily equipped with a
single secondary lintel pole about 5 inches below the main lintels
and secondary jambs slanted to support a sandstone slab placed from
the living room.

Sill height, which seems such an important consideration, varies
in Old Bonito from a few inches to several feet. Of five doorways in


Page 60
Room 325, three of them now sealed, sill height ranges from 16
inches to 4 feet 9 inches. The latter, a formidable step, was lessened
by a 2½-foot section of log leaned against the stonework and by a
toe-hold, 1½ inches deep, in the plaster above. The northeast door,
its sill 4 feet 3 inches above the floor, was entered with help of two
post steps, that nearest the wall being 9 inches in diameter and 33
inches high (pl. 14, left). On the opposite side, in Room 323, sill
height from the latest floor is only 3½ feet. The west wing of Old
Bonito ends two living rooms beyond, with the blank south walls
of Rooms 320 and 326.

We can only guess at the number of individuals in an Old Bonitian
family and at the bulk of those individuals. Today, the average
family at Zuñi or one of the Hopi towns will number four or five
persons, not counting the ever-present relatives of the housewife.
And the dimensions of a prehistoric doorway, I am sure, provide no
proper measure of physical attributes.

Courtward doorways such as those in Rooms 323, 325, and 326
may have been standard for ground-floor living rooms on the concave
side of Old Bonito. However, in Rooms 28 and 85, and perhaps
others for which data are lacking, steps were provided in order
to reach court level, wind-blown sand and soil having accumulated
ceiling-high outside. Rooms 3 and 3b, next west of 28, and all other
fronting rooms south to 330 likewise were deeply buried by courtside
accumulations. For these deep rooms hatchways offered a simple
means of ingress and exit.

Hatchways in 3 and 3a (97) are described both from below and
from their second stories, Rooms 91 and 92, respectively. The first
of these openings, 2 by 3 feet, "was sealed with matting and bunches
of cedarbark tied with yucca leaves"; the 3a hatchway likewise "had
been covered with matting." Absence of lateral doors suggests that
Rooms 315, 316, 328, 329, and 330, among others, also had been
provided with ceiling hatches.

Old Bonitian architects were conservatives; they attempted few
innovations. Their Pueblo II single-course masonry never changed
but it was augmented here and there with earlier, inherited methods
of house construction—posts with mud and rocks packed between
and sandstone slabs at the base of a wall (pl. 20, upper and lower).
Basal slabs, for example, are reported in Rooms 107, 306, and 317;
flagstone floors, in 83, 142, and 320. Post-and-mud walls, harking
straight back to Pueblo I times, were noted in Rooms 3, 3a (97), 8,
28, 61, 63, 327, 328, and 329 but in no case did these approach the


Page 61
superior wattlework found in Late Bonitian Rooms 256 and 257 nor
in a short section we exposed during subcourt explorations outside
the northeast corner of Room 149.

Post-and-mud construction is generally accepted as a mark of
Pueblo II civilization but Pueblo II stonework at its very best is
also to be seen in Old Bonito. It surpasses that of every other
Pueblo II settlement of which I have knowledge. And the town
arrangement is pure Pueblo II—a crescentic assemblage of living
rooms, each with paired storerooms at the rear, subterranean kivas
out in front and a community trash pile beyond the kivas. Later
stonework was double-coursed—a rubblework core veneered on both
sides with faced building blocks.

That transverse block of small rooms that divides Old Bonito
into two fairly equal parts includes both early and late masonry.
Because published descriptions of these small rooms or at least
some of them, have proved confusing to students of Pueblo Bonito
it seems desirable to introduce at this point the results of my own
independent inquiries, Pepper's field notes in hand.

Pepper (1920, p. 39) describes Room 3 as "one of a series of
open rooms . . . extending in a northeasterly direction"; places
Room 3a east of 3; 3b, north of 3a; 3c, west of 3b; 3d above 3c (pp.
43-45). These orientations afford ample evidence that Pepper was
sometimes puzzled, as I often was, how best to record the bearing
of a given wall. Comparing visible masonry with his text and reading
the compass a bit closer, I would locate 3a northeast of Room 3;
3b northeast of 3a; 3d above 3b. The Society made no excavation
in this series other than that necessary to construction of a stairway
against the northeast wall of Room 3a, leading down to the door
connecting with 3b. The open room above 3b, readily identified by
its ceiling and west-end platform as Pepper's 3d (p. 45), is unquestionably
the uppermost of the two open rooms below Room 110,
entered in 1896 "through a hole broken in the wall" (p. 329). That
hole, in the middle northeast wall, was breached from Room 58
(p. 220); a northwest corner hole, broken through the floor in front
of the platform, gave access to the lower room, 3b (p. 329). Neither
description nor recorded measurement positively identifies Room 3c
but, situated "directly west [NW] of Room 3b" and entered "through
a hole which someone had broken in the west [NW] wall" [of 3b]
(p. 44), it must be the "lower part of [R. 111] . . . broken into
through the south [SE] wall in 1896" (p. 330). These three holes:
in the northwest wall of 3b, in the northeast wall and the northwest


Page 62
floor of 3d, and the rounded front edge of the 3d platform, were all
repaired by the National Park Service in 1926.

Room 91 is the second story of Room 3 (p. 297); Room 92 adjoins
91 on the north [NE] (p. 298) as the second story of 3a, which
latter was subsequently cleared and renumbered 97 (p. 304). Together,
these four rooms, 3, 3a (97), 91, and 92, are among the most
instructive in Old Bonito. They reflect its beginning and echo its
end. If Pepper's published descriptions are sometimes puzzling it
is usually because his first- and second-story observations are intermixed.

Room 3, for example, with its thickly plastered heavily smoked
walls, is described as probably a square kiva on account of its slabsided
fireplace, upright deflector, and presumed subfloor passageway
to the outside (Pepper, 1920, p. 40, 298). However, duplicated
descriptions provide evidence that figure 9 is not the "interior of
Room 3" as stated but that of second-story Room 91. If the reported
"passageway" had an external opening we saw no trace of it while
clearing the narrow terrace overlooking Kiva R; neither did we observe
trace of the four large 12-inch beams that "protruded fully 8
feet beyond the wall" of 91.

Room 92, adjoining 91, is the second story of Room 3a which was
not excavated in 1896 when it was first entered but later when it was
renumbered and described as Room 97. The original southeast side
of 97 (or 3a) was of post-and-mud construction and continued as
such into Room 3. Pepper's illustrations of 97 (1920, figs. 127, 128)
together with his descriptions of upright sticks and posts at the
southwest end of Room 28, as seen from 57 (ibid., p. 219), indicate
that the original post-and-mud southeast walls of 3 and 3a
turned northwest between 3a and 28 before Late Bonitian architects
introduced their concealing stonework on the northeast side of 3a
(97) and built second-story Rooms 91 and 92.

Room 92, like 91, had a central fireplace which Pepper (ibid.,
p. 299) describes as shallow and rimmed with adobe. Its thin clay
bottom, seen in unpublished negative No. 304, was spread directly
upon layers of cedarbark and close-lying pine poles—a fire hazard
not recognized by the occupants—that formed both the floor of
Room 92 and the ceiling of the room below, 3a (or 97). A closed
hatchway pierced the floor at its south, or southeast, corner.

The same unpublished negative (No. 304) also shows a narrowstemmed,
T-shaped door in the Old Bonitian northwest wall and, to
right and left, the second-type northeast and southwest walls that


Page 63
identify Room 92 as a Late Bonitian installation. Both walls have
since fallen but that at the southwest, "solid and exceedingly well
made" (ibid., p. 300), a foot thick and of superb second-type masonry,
was built upon a log—the log seen at upper right in Pepper's figure
127—while that on the opposite side, the northeast, was double-thick.
As Pepper (ibid., p. 299) describes it, this Room 92 northeast wall
consists of 26 inches of unplastered late masonry abutting the 16-inchthick
wall of Old Bonitian Room 3d, a total of 3½ feet, and thus
duplicates its ground-floor counterpart, between 97 and 3b (ibid.,
p. 305).

This northeast wall offers another challenge to my classification
of Pueblo Bonito masonry, for although I consider both upper and
lower as of second-type construction the former is second-type on a
larger scale and consists of large dressed blocks of friable sandstone
chinked with larger-than-usual tablets of laminate sandstone (pl. 21,
upper). In the lower room (97 or 3a), however, the stonework is
less easily defined and appears from Pepper's figure 128 to include
chance fragments of both laminate and friable sandstone, that is, a
Late Bonitian job with salvaged materials.

Our interest in Rooms 91 and 92 is not limited to architecture.
Both were provided with midfloor fireplaces and hatchways to the
rooms below, fixtures normally found only in living rooms. But, in
addition, quantities of foodstuffs had been stored in Room 92: "a
great deal of corn . . . bean bushes . . . and masses of beans . . .
still green; corn on the cob; and beans in the pod" (Pepper, 1920,
p. 298)—a substantial representation of an average Pueblo harvest.
Corn in the ear was also found stored in ground-floor Room 5 together
with pinyon nuts, burned when fire destroyed the ceiling (ibid.,
p. 46). Wild grass seed and other plant fruits were also gathered
and stored for winter use.

We may be reasonably certain that our Old Bonitians ate rabbits
and rodents, as Pueblo Indians always have done, but doubt remains
in the case of turkeys and dogs. Pepper (ibid., p. 56) reports the
breastbones of nine turkeys recovered from debris in Room 100. He
also reports dog skulls or skeletons in eight or more separate rooms
and the Society's expeditions recovered still more (Judd, 1954, p. 65).
Within the historic period, Pueblo tribes generally have respected
a taboo against eating dog, bear, fish, and fowl, and I prefer to
believe their ancestors did too.

It was the presence of foodstuffs stored in Rooms 2, 5, 6, and 92
as much as the eight Old Bonitian burial rooms and the relative shallowness


Page 64
of many Hyde Expedition discoveries that convinced me
Old Bonito was inhabited later than other sections of the pueblo.
Here, in this oldest part of town, fragile but inflammable ceilings
have survived in greatest number; here, scraps of textiles, feathers,
and basketry have best withstood the elements; here one finds the
greatest variety of cultural material and here one notes a preponderance
of early pottery types along with increasing percentages of
Late Hachure, McElmo Black-on-white, and Corrugated-coil Culinary.
Kiva Q, at the northeast corner of the West Court, was a
Late Bonitian creation and 2 or 3 Late Bonitian rooms overhung its
eastern arc but, of 4,527 potsherds recovered during its excavation,
33.4 percent were Old Bonitian.

The original post-and-mud construction on the southeast side of
Rooms 3 and 3a (97) continued south, I believe, to enclose the row
of one-story rooms Old Bonitian architects built in front of 112, 323,
325, and 326 sometime prior to arrival of the Late Bonitians. A portion
of this court-side row was removed, I feel certain, to make
way for the second-type kiva that preceded Kiva Z (fig. 4). Postand-mud
walls still stand in Rooms 327, 328, and 329 where they
served, as did those in 3 and 3a, as foundations for Late Bonitian
walls erected at the second-story level.

Room 329 adjoins 328 on the south and together with three neighboring
rooms, 320, 326, and 330, had come to be utilized late in the
history of Pueblo Bonito for interment of 73 Old Bonitian dead,
identified as such by their burial furnishings. The location of these
four rooms at the extreme south end of the west wing may have influenced
their selection as burial places but it is to be noted that four
other rooms, 32, 33, 53, and 56, situated at the very heart of the
old pueblo, likewise had become impromptu tombs when the local
population was denied access to their extramural cemeteries (Judd,
1954, pp. 325-342).

Rooms 32, 33, 53, and 56 comprise a tight cluster of small groundfloor
chambers at least two of which were storage places for ceremonial
paraphernalia and all of which ultimately became tombs for
more than 20 individuals (Pepper, 1909; 1920). A single door, subsequently
sealed from Room 28, gave access to 32; open doors connected
32 with 33 and 53; 53 with 56. Thus the 20-odd bodies interred
within these four rooms were all pulled through the 22- by
34-inch opening that formerly gave access from 28 to 32.