University of Virginia Library


Page 143


What we called "The Northeast Foundation Complex" is just
that—a complex of mud-and-stone foundations never built upon but
intended for an addition that would have doubled the ground area
of Pueblo Bonito. The plan was conceived by Late Bonitian architects
but was abandoned by them in favor of a substitute plan. The
abandoned foundations began as a thin wedge built against the external
second-type masonry of Room 297 and extend thence irregularly
eastward until, more or less abruptly, they came to an end
509 feet east of Room 176 (fig. 11).

We discovered this foundation complex quite unexpectedly while
clearing away blown sand and fallen stonework outside the northeast
arc of the pueblo (pl. 41, upper). Here the outer wall foundations,
varying in height from 15 inches (Room 188) to 22 inches (R. 184),
had been built between and against foundations projected from our
outlying complex. These intruding foundations, like those of the
outer row of rooms, rested upon 20-24 inches of blown sand containing
a scattering of clay pellets and occasional potsherds, both early
and late. Two feet lower, or 4 feet below the top of the foundations,
we came upon a hard, fairly smooth silt surface. This "pavement"
(to quote my 1923 notes) looked so artificial I decided to
explore it further.

Beginning outside Room 184 we cut a 5-foot-wide trench and
followed the pavement on a Magnetic North line 115 feet where,
unexpectedly, we encountered a triangular bank of adobe mud packed
against the lower terrace of the Braced-up Cliff. As we bared it, that
adobe bank measured 8 feet high by 13 feet, front to back, and about
6 feet across its irregular top. A limited test at the foot of the
triangle revealed underlying adobe of unknown depth—adobe that
was gritty, hard, and broken as though composed of water-softened
and trampled chunks of discarded mortar (pl. 42, left).

The abutting and interlocking foundation units exposed by that
5-foot-wide trench, and all those adjoining, suggested our name
for the whole composite: "The Northeast Foundation Complex."
Each foundation unit was composed of loosely assembled pieces of
friable sandstone and mud mortar. So far as we could see they
were just ordinary foundations, varying in width and height but
otherwise differing in no way from foundations elsewhere (pl. 41,


Page 144
lower). We followed them in both directions—west to their point of
beginning and eastward until we tired of the pursuit.

The Complex began as a 22-inch-high wedge built against the
plastered second-type masonry of Room 297 (pl. 43, lower). The
extreme tip of the wedge, which collapsed during excavation, had
been built upon 9 inches of blown sand covering 23 inches of compacted
constructional debris—abode droppings and sandstone chips
left by the builders of the second-type wall. Adobe plaster still
adhered to that wall, 54 inches of plaster from foundation to top of
the abutting 22-inch-high wedge. Above the wedge, weathering had
erased the plaster, and thereafter an additional 2 feet of sand had

At this point the Room 297 foundation, if any, was deeply recessed,
but an apparent substitute lay 4 inches outside and at the same level.
To explore this feature further, we made a second test at the northwest
corner of 297 and here the substitute was missing while the
room foundation, 16 inches high and offset 3 inches, had been built
over and between massive sandstone blocks fallen from the north cliff
in pre-Bonito times. Another such block was exposed a few feet to
the east and beyond it, outside Room 188 and 4-4½ feet below the
surface as we found it, a third part of that ancient rockfall had
caused one of the north-south units to lift slightly as it crossed
(pl. 44, left).

Because the intended foundations were built over and around
them these huge blocks of fallen sandstone obviously gave the
town planners small concern. But long years later, after Pueblo
Bonito had been built and abandoned, another huge section crashed
down from the same source, the west end of the Braced-up Cliff, and
one jagged block rolled dangerously close to the northwest corner
of Room 189 before coming to rest (pl. 44, left).

Beneath broken masonry was a shallow layer of blown sand
that included scraps of burned wood and another 20 inches of
constructional waste thinning out to zero at a distance of 10 feet.
All this is now buried under wreckage of the Braced-up Cliff itself
which finally fell, as the Bonitians feared it might, and laid waste
the whole northeast quarter of their famous pueblo (Judd, 1959b).

Some 80 feet east of Room 297 a second unit of the Foundation
Complex emerges from under the outer wall to parallel the first unit
at a distance of 8 feet. The two are joined by a succession of
north-south foundations spaced as though for rooms comparable in
floor area to those in the second row of the pueblo, Room 297 east to

No Page Number

Fig. 14-Cross section B-B′ from Room 202 to surface outside
Room 136

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294. At its north end the westernmost of these connecting foundations
overtops the east-west unit by 9 inches, a difference leveled with
fourth-type stonework—one of three instances in this area where
finished masonry appears upon units of the Complex.

As the Complex continues eastward a conspicuous change occurs
north of Rooms 183-187. On the ground no less than on our
surveyor's plot (fig. 11) there appears a bewildering confusion of
foundations. They supplant and intermix; they abut and overlap;
they stop and change direction. One might guess that two or more
architectural plans had clashed here; that the city planners had
reached an impasse or become inextricably enmeshed in their own
schemes. Abandoned handiwork was not demolished, as one might
suppose; it was merely covered up and forgotten (pl. 45, upper).

We traced many of these outlying foundations under the outer
wall of Pueblo Bonito and found them differing in no appreciable
degree from other foundations. Those beneath Room 186 are
especially instructive. The room floor had been spread directly upon
five foundation units that intrude from the northeast and the northwest
to abut older walls under the floor.

Most conspicuous of these older subfloor walls is the jutting
corner of original Room 267, built of banded laminate sandstone in
what I should call superior third- or fourth-type masonry (pl. 46,
lower). Plastered outside and partially razed, the corner stands on
its own 11-inch-high foundation at a depth of 4 feet 4 inches; 9 inches
higher, the corner is abutted by another partially razed wall of comparable
stonework, that continues west to underly the present southwest
side of Room 187. Plaster on the face of this lower wall
carries around the original 267 corner and rounds off with an apparent
work surface that slopes down and away from the wall.
A second, similar work surface lies 6 inches higher. Here, more
clearly than elsewhere, we see units of the Northeast Foundation
Complex abutting abandoned third-type walls in anticipation of an
addition that was itself abandoned and immediately superseded by
the present row of outside rooms.

Three inches below the floor of Room 186, right where its southwest
foundation abuts the east side of original 267, an 8-inch-high
stack of loose stones was concealed at time of construction. Built on
sand, the pile fell during excavation and thus revealed a small
turquoise offering placed there, according to one of our Zuñi workmen,
"to hold up the house."

Foundations of the Complex extending subfloor into Rooms 186


Page 146
and 187 do not continue into 293 and 294, adjoining, and we made
no observation in Rooms 188 and 189. A new feature, however,
occurs outside the northeast corner of Room 187. There, built upon
merging units of the Complex, are the 5-inch-high remains of a
boxlike structure 55 inches long and averaging 18 inches wide. A
second such receptacle, complete and of fourth-type masonry, stands
7½ feet to the east against the middle outside wall of Room 186 (pl. 42,
right). Its external measurements are 45 inches by an average of 19;
inside, 27 by 12. It was floored by a single sandstone slab laid
directly upon the underlying foundations and was ceiled 15 inches
above with slab-covered small poles the ends of which had been inserted
into the ruin wall. Whatever its intended function the box
contained only a handful of miscellaneous deer and small mammal
bones, two Old Bonitian black-on-white sherds, and an ironstone

These merging foundations unite with and abut others of their
kind in an intricate pattern I could not unravel to my entire satisfaction.
A number of parallel east-west units, 22-38 inches wide and
53-58 inches high, seem to stand forth in a dominating way; lesser
foundations, 14-24 inches wide and 6-20 inches high, join them from
north and south and all top off at the same general level. Irrespective
of differences in width and height, all were built either on the underlying
silt pavement previously mentioned or on its 20-24-inch blanket
of blown sand. Working among them one gains an impression the
broader, more substantial units may have been constructed first, the
others following.

Three east-west foundations exposed by our 5-foot-wide trench
north of Room 184 extend to and under the west side of Hillside
Ruin (fig. 11). The first of these, 15 inches wide by 16 inches
high, passes under Hillside 26 inches from its southwest corner and
2 feet 10 inches above the underlying silt pavement. Constructional
debris 20-22 inches deep lay upon the foundation and was, in turn,
buried under stratified sand that had piled up against the smoothfaced
stones of Hillside (pl. 47, upper).


What we called "Hillside Ruin" is a fairly late settlement that
extends from a sandstone outcropping at the end of the Braced-up
Cliff terrace eastward approximately 300 feet to another outcropping.
It probably has since received other names from other sources.
Simpson (1850, p. 81) barely mentions the site; Jackson (1878,


Page 147
p. 442) describes it as "a mass of ruins measuring 135 by 75 feet"
with two circular rooms in the middle and an east-side wall about
300 feet long. We did not find this latter, our examination of the
site being restricted to three narrow exploratory trenches at the
west end, partial exposure of the irregular south front, and limited
examination of one kiva.

This kiva, situated near the east sandstone outcropping, has
an indicated above-bench diameter of 24 feet 8 inches and its masonry,
as I described it at the time, approaches but does not quite equal
our third type at Pueblo Bonito. Elsewhere, what little Hillside
Ruin masonry we laid bare is decidedly non-Bonitian and rests
upon a 7-inch-high adobe foundation that overlies extended units
of our Northeast Foundation Complex. Hillside Ruin, later than
Pueblo Bonito, stands upon a low elevation overlooking the network
of foundations presently under consideration. I believe it to have
been relatively short-lived and it clearly has been stripped of accessible
building stones. Surface sherds I gathered are few in number and
the black-on-white fragments are best described as proto-Mesa Verde.


One of the major east-west foundations, 28 inches wide and 33
inches high where it abuts, subfloor, the inner west corner of Room
185, passes under the outside wall of that room and continues eastward
more than 200 feet. This foundation and others of its kind are
joined by lesser units to outline an assemblage of room-size areas
and what obviously was intended as the foundation for a circular
kiva. A test outside the southeast arc of this latter exposed a foundation
angle both sides of which were built upon a smooth silt surface
at depth of 4 feet 5 inches; a foot or more of adobe droppings lay
upon that surface and stratified sand above, the upper 2 inches dark
with humus.

This kiva outline, lacking finished masonry inside and out, is
bisected by another major foundation that extends eastward past the
jutting front of Hillside Ruin to an end we did not seek. In its
course, however, this major foundation, here 58 inches high, is
overlain by another kiva outline whose overall width of 7 feet
suggests both bench and outer wall. The presumed bench face rests
upon a 2-inch-thick adobe floor, 3 inches of sand, and an underlying
thin layer of shale. Cut into the floor is a typical Chaco-type
ventilator duct, 23 inches in both width and depth by 7 feet long,
neatly lined with laminate sandstone. Its associated shaft, of thirdtype


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masonry and 22 inches square inside, stands 15½ feet from
the north end of the duct and intrudes upon the incomplete outline
of another and earlier kiva.

Outside the first of these two kiva foundations, but inside one
presumably intended for its east enclosing wall, is a rectangular
firebox, 29 by 26 inches and 25 inches deep. Its slab lining rises
full height on the east side but is topped on the other three by
8-10 inches of masonry. Despite the foundation between, this sunken
firebox probably was associated with the six next to be considered,
five of them quadrangular and one circular.

These six (pl. 47, lower) were ranged along the south side of
the major east-west foundation that underlies the Chaco-type kiva
outline noted above. The single circular firebox measures 43 inches
deep by 42 inches in diameter at the top and 50 inches at the bottom,
while the other five vary in size from 33 by 38 inches (No. 3) to 41
by 54 inches (No. 2) and in depth from 16 inches (No. 5) to 29
inches (No. 1). All six are rudely constructed with walls 4-12 inches
thick that top off at approximately the same level as the east-west
foundation. Excess mortar inside the five rectangular pits was
smeared over the stonework; that in the circular one was fingerpressed
between stones. All six were filled with sand reddened by
heat and containing minute particles of charcoal but no discernible
wood ash; there was no fusing of mortar and no fragment of pottery
or bone in either. My guess is that the entire group, seven in number,
was in some fashion related to Hillside Ruin, but this is purely a

A test pit between Nos. 2 and 3 disclosed a smooth adobe
surface at depth of 58 inches and, above it, the ever-present
constructional debris and blown sand. In the partially explored
area immediately to the south we happened upon a small contemporary
dump of this constructional waste, but I could see no point in
searching further. All the foundations we had previously uncovered
were pretty much alike. They were built of mud mortar and roughly
spalled chunks of friable sandstone; they were foundations and nothing
else. Here and there a bit of finished masonry is to be seen, the
visible effort of an impatient mason. But nowhere in the whole
Complex did we find an item of cultural interest other than occasional
discarded hammerstones and potsherds. Of these only one
seemed to justify a catalog number, the fragment of a black-on-white
female effigy with half-inch black squares on the belly (U.S.N.M.
No. 336089).


Page 149

The main east-west foundations may have been constructed first
for they are generally wider and higher than other units and they
often stand directly upon the ever-present underlying silt layer. In
contrast, the abutting lesser units rest upon 20-24 inches of sand overlying
the silt strata. In 1923 when we first came upon these buried
surfaces I invariably described them as "pavements" because they
seemed too smooth to be of natural origin but later, after Bryan's
1924 and 1925 geological observations and my own independent findings,
it became obvious each exposure was no more than a record of
silt transported and deposited by sluggish floodwaters. The overburden
might differ in depth and composition but the underlying layer
remained the same, floodwater silt.

Jackson (1878, p. 442) notes an east-side wall extending south
300 feet from Hillside Ruin to meet at right angles another wall 180
feet east of Pueblo Bonito. Although this meeting is clearly indicated
on his restoration of Pueblo Bonito (pl. 49, upper), I suspect an error
on the part of the lithographer. Jackson was not given to erroneous
observations. Three hundred feet from Hillside Ruin, or even from
the cliff behind, would put the intersection well south of the lone wall
foundation we traced 509 feet east (E 23° N) from Room 176.

McNitt (1957, p. 175) quotes his informant to the effect that
building stone for the Wetherill residence and store "was brought
from a tumbled prehistoric wall just east of Bonito," a recollection
that may account for the irregular top of the lone foundation. We
did not explore the considerable area between this bordering foundation
and the series fronting Hillside Ruin, but we ran several trenches
at the east end and, for ready reference, assigned identifying numbers
here and there (fig. 11).

From Station 2, where it ends with a height of 14 inches and a
width of 24, our lone bordering foundation extends arrow-straight
toward the southeast corner of Pueblo Bonito. Its broken east end,
10 inches under the surface, is surrounded by blown sand; no constructional
debris is apparent. Built of roughly fractured friable
sandstone, this long wall-like foundation overlies every other on its
path, including 22 inches of excellent fourth-type masonry at Station
3, and therefore is later than they. It measures 24 inches wide by
14 inches high at Station 2 and the same at Station 5 but a few feet
further west the foundation stands 26 inches high and comes to the
present surface (pl. 48, left). It is not improbable that this section,
at least, appeared as a free wall in Jackson's time.

At Station 4, at the lower end of a long narrow room that extends


Page 150
north to Station 6, a pair of rude 3-course foundations averaging only
8 inches high abuts 19 inches of good fourth-type masonry above its
own foot-high foundation (pl. 49, lower). The lateness of the pair
is thus established as they curve away to the south and west until
the north member comes to an abrupt end approximately 150 feet
from its beginning. Here, at Station 8, this north member is reduced
to a mere two courses, its base 20-odd inches below the surface.

Beneath this 2-course foundation lie 3 feet of sandy clay containing
conspicuous, fragmented chunks of adobe and, below that, an
additional 2 feet of compacted sand. In our test pit at this point,
7 feet 4 inches deep, neither sandstone spalls nor potsherds were
noted below the foundation, but sherds did occur, unidentified in
my notes, in the sand above. The south member of the pair ends
about 50 feet short of Station 8 at which point they are 25 inches
apart, average 16 inches wide by 10 inches high, and are covered by
10 inches of blown sand, as at Stations 2 and 4.

Purely out of curiosity we cut a shallow trench alongside the
paired foundations below Station 4. When we found they had been
built upon water-laid sand and silt we abandoned the experiment in
favor of a second trench, dug to intersect the two about midway
between Stations 4 and 8. The results, which we dubbed "The Far
East Trench" (fig. 24), proved unexpectedly illuminating. Underneath
the pair, quantities of indurated sand and sandy adobe extended
northward to merge with the fill of an undeniable watercourse.
That fill, chiefly debris of reconstruction—sandstone fragments and
chunks of adobe mortar from razed walls—had been carried out and
dumped into an unwanted channel where, in due course, all was
blanketed by Chaco Canyon's ever-present blown sand.

Too late I realized our "Far East" trench should have been
continued to cross the long wall-like foundation for this latter
obviously was built to meet some definite purpose. Whether that
purpose was in any way related to the debris-filled channel nearby
or to the silt layers we encountered in every 5-foot-deep test made
throughout the Northeast Foundation Complex is a question that remains
unanswered. Floodwaters from the rincon back of Chettro
Kettle formerly were discharged down valley, and our lone wall could
have been designed to divert such waters away from the village as
was, presumably, one 5 feet under the present surface and extending
100 feet upcanyon from Pueblo del Arroyo (Judd, 1959a, p. 120).
The same explanation does not, of course, apply to a similar rock wall
reaching eastward from Pueblo Alto.


Page 151


Upon conclusion of our explorations I could find but one reasonable
explanation for this whole vast Northeast Foundation Complex: It
was built to support an extensive addition planned for Pueblo Bonito,
an addition altered repeatedly during the planning stage but abandoned
before construction really began. Late Bonitian architects needed,
or thought they needed, to enlarge their portion of the settlement a
third time. They began by building eastward from Room 297 a
series of foundations that abut the foundations or the stonework of
rooms previously erected.

If my repetitious use of "foundation" be wearisome let me admit
an inability to describe such simple constructions by any other term.
They are foundations and no more. Composed of irregular chunks of
friable sandstone and an occasional dressed block from some razed
building, all packed in an abundance of mud mortar, these interlocking
units of the Northeast Foundation Complex differ in no wise from
Late Bonitian foundations within the pueblo.

We traced some of them beneath the outer row of rooms and found
them ending against other and earlier stonework. Sporadic fourthtype
masonry identifies the builders. Wherever finished masonry
occurs throughout these outlying foundations, with four exceptions
to be noted presently, it is fourth-type masonry and identical with
that comprising the existing outside wall of the pueblo from Room
297 east and south to 176. As the masonry of this outside wall
identifies its own foundations so do scattered sections of finished
fourth-type masonry identify the abandoned foundation complex.

The best example of finished masonry we observed during these
widespread excavations is that at Station 1 (pl. 48, right). It is of
superior fourth-type, 22 inches high by 26 inches thick and stands,
with a 3-inch-wide offset, upon a typical foundation 4 feet 7 inches
high and based 6 inches above a floor-like deposit of floodwater silt.
That foundation is abutted from the west by another, about half
as high but utterly devoid of wall-like stonework.

At the west end of that abutting foundation is a kiva 8 feet
5 inches deep with bench 29 inches wide by 24 inches high, as
ascertained by a test pit in the northeast quarter, and an indicated
above-bench diameter of 23 feet 10 inches. My field notes identify
it as of third-type construction which is that of two other kivas
in this outlying area: One at the east end of Hillside Ruin and the
second, outside Room 179. This fact suggests the probability that
Late Bonitian planners of a fourth-type addition to their pueblo had


Page 152
previously demolished several third-type kivas to obtain building

Additional sections of fourth-type masonry 3-9 inches high survive
at Stations 3, 4, 6, and 7, at various places identified by the letter
"x" on our chart of the Complex (fig. 11) including the masonry
box outside Room 186, an 18-inch-wide east-west wall remnant a
foot and a half under the floors of Rooms 256 and 257, a subfloor
foundation similarly oriented in Room 185, and a north-south wall
section paralleling the west side of 244 at a distance of 30 inches.

The exposure bared at Station 6 is especially puzzling in that a
facing of banded fourth-type masonry continuing north from
Station 4 is here screened by an over-wall of friable sandstone and
mud that looks somewhat finished externally but is, nevertheless,
foundation-like throughout. At its north end this close-fitting overwall
is buried under 3 feet 9 inches of blown sand in which we noted
successive gravel lenses and a scattering of clay pellets.

Station 7 is unique in that here 8 inches of fourth-type masonry
remain upon a 26-inch-high foundation that consists of dressed
friable sandstone chinked after the fashion of second-type stonework,
its base 5 feet 4 inches below the present surface. On the east
side of this composite, its bottom at a depth of 6½ feet, is a 3-foot pile
of constructional waste—the most likely indication of deliberate wallrazing
we noted throughout the whole Complex.

This single example of second-type masonry—there may well be
others we did not come upon—and three known kivas constructed in
what I recorded as third-type provide further evidence that the
Late Bonitians did not hesitate to tear down still useful structures
when building materials were required for others in prospect. That
salvaged materials at hand sometimes prompted a workman to do a bit
of wall-building on his own seems only natural—a brief respite from
the tedium of shaping foundations from mud and broken rock.

Figure 11 shows only that portion of the Northeast Foundation
Complex we actually uncovered. We have no knowledge of what still
lies buried. A cross section (D-46) between "A," on a main eastwest
foundation outside Room 185, and a like symbol near Station 2
at the east end of our trenching operations does not, in my opinion,
contribute enough information to justify its reproduction herein. It
remains on file at the U. S. National Museum together with all other
diagrams and field notes of the Pueblo Bonito Expeditions. I might
add, however, that 12 deep silt layers shown on that cross section lie
at practically the same level, no more than 8 inches apart vertically.

No Page Number

Plate 38

Left: In the
northwest corner of
Room 298 Old
Bonitian masonry
abuts the external
angle of Room 13.

(Photograph by
Neil M. Judd,


Right: Over 19
feet of salvagedstone
masonry rises
above floor level in
Room 239.

(Photograph by
O. C. Havens,

No Page Number

Plate 39

A prehistoric stairway on the east side of the rincon
north of Chettro Kettle.

(Original sketch by W. H. Jackson, 1877.)


Since 1877 the lower portion of Jackson's stairway has slumped
away but toe-holds remain at the left, unfinished steps at upper

(Photograph by Neil M. Judd, 1927.)

No Page Number

Cleared "road," south cliff opposite Chettro Kettle. Pueblo Alto on skyline above
standing figure.


Groove pecked in sandstone outcropping along "road" between Pueblo Alto and
Chettro Kettle.


Plate 40

Pecked steps on "road" between Pueblo Alto and Chettro Kettle.

(Photographs by Neil M. Judd, 1926.)

No Page Number

The Late Bonitians' third and final addition to the pueblo overlies units of the
Northeast Foundation Complex. National Geographic Society repairs appear in the
4-story wall at right. (Photograph by E. L. Wisherd, 1923.)


Plate 41

Foundations for the Northeast Complex were ordinary foundations covered by sand
and silt. (Photograph by O. C. Havens, 1925.)

No Page Number

Plate 42

Left: Late Bonitian
masonry supported
a terrace
under the Bracedup
Cliff and a bank
of adobe mud buttressed
the masonry.


Right: A stonewalled
stood upon units
of the Northeast
Foundation Complex
outside Room

(Photographs by
O. C. Havens,

No Page Number

Fourth-type veneering overlaps the second-type exterior of the unnumbered room next
east of 297. Below, part of the abandoned Northeast Complex.

(Photograph by Thomas Nebbia, 1959.)


Plate 43

The Northeast Foundation Complex began as a thin wedge against the plastered
second-type exterior of Room 297.

(Photograph by O. C. Havens, 1925.)

No Page Number

Plate 44

Left: Long after
Pueblo Bonito was
abandoned sandstone
fallen from
the Braced-up Cliff
endangered the village.
An earlier fall
had caused a unit
of the Northeast
Complex to rise in


Right: At its extreme
west end the
Northeast Foundation
Complex abuts
the second-type masonry
of Room 297.
National Geographic
Society repairs,

(Photographs by
Neil M. Judd,

No Page Number

View of the Northeast Foundation Complex from the Braced-up Cliff. In left
foreground, stones piled for wall repairs; beyond, 3 tests against west side of Hillside


Plate 45

The Northeast Foundation Complex from the northeast cliff. Pueblo Bonito in the
background, with National Park Service cementwork around Kivas D and F.

(Photographs by O. C. Havens, 1925.)


Page 153

After preparing this extensive foundation complex for an addition
they never built, the Late Bonitian architects abruptly abandoned
their plans in favor of a substitute addition. This latter, more conservative
in conception, began where the rejected series was started,
outside Room 297, extending thence in a single row to Room 186
and thereafter, in broader plan east and south to the corner of the