University of Virginia Library


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Section C


By Clyde Kluckhohn

Since the structures discovered in the refuse mound up to the
close of the 1937 season had either been partially excavated under
other supervision prior to the beginning or were found at the very
close of that season, not even a proper "preliminary report" can be
presented here. A note, however, embodying the most general facts
may be useful in estimating the general situation at Bc 50-51.

Pithouses.—Toward the close of the 1936 excavations a pithouse
was partially uncovered in trenches 16, 17, and 18 of sections 1, 2,
and 3 (see Map 1). This pithouse was further excavated in May,
1937, by a party of students from the University of New Mexico
working under the direction of Wesley Bliss, and superposed slab-lined
cists were also discovered. Additional excavation during August,
1937, was likewise under the immediate supervision of Mr. Bliss, and
his drawing (Fig. 4) shows the principal architectural details. Since
the writer has not had access to Mr. Bliss' field notes, further information
cannot be given except to state that the 35 sherds found in what
Mr. Bliss considered the "entrance" yielded the following percentages:
Lino Gray, 40; Escavada Black on White, 29; Kana-a Gray, 11; Exuberant
Corrugated, 8; Red Mesa Black on White, 8; Wingate Black
on Red, 3. A sherd sample of 27 from the floor of the pithouse proper
showed these percentages: Lino, 52; Red Mesa, 25; Exuberant, 18;
Escavada, 4. The Fugitive Red jar neck shown in Plate 8D was also
found on the floor of this pithouse.

In trench 3, section 6, a hard clay deposit was encountered at a
depth of 30″ beneath the surface. This clay was notably sterile save
for minute amounts of charcoal and excessively rare sherds which (so
far as found) were exclusively of Lino Gray. Subsequent excavation
showed that a pit (now filled with later refuse) had been dug into this
clay layer. (See Map 1, and Plate 5A).[17] A "scoop" metate was
found slightly above the floor level in the pit,[18] and the floor fill yielded
18 sherds in the following percentages: Escavada,[19] 33; Lino, 28; La
Plata Black on White, 17; Red Mesa, 5; Exuberant, 5; McElmo, 5;

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Figure 4—Pithouse and Slab-lined Cists in Sections 1, 2, and 3, Refuse Mound


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Sandstone Black on Orange, 5. It was not possible to complete excavation
of this pit before the end of the season.

In trenches 16 and 17 of sections 4, 5, and 6 a pit apparently of
approximately the same shape was partially outlined during the
final days of the 1937 season. A portion of the floor fill excavated in
trench 16 of section 6 produced 62 sherds in the following percentages:
Lino, 79; Red Mesa, 11; Exuberant, 5; La Plata, 2.

Walls of Unfamiliar Type.—On the last day of the excavation in
trench 24 a low wall was found extending diagonally across section 6.
This wall was built of dressed slabs, non-dressed boulders, and small
stones set in abundant mortar. At about the same time circular walls
of essentially similar construction were discovered in a western extension
of section 6, 16′ 1″ and 24′ 10″ west of the western border of
trench 1. The former of these was about 3′ below the surface, atop
the sterile clay layer. The latter was nearly 3′ lower in another pit
which had apparently been dug into the clay at this locus.

These walls do not appear to fall into any of the previously recognized
Chaco Canyon masonry types. Naturally, the evidence is insufficient,
but it may not be out of place to record the speculation that
they are representative of a time of experimentation in dwelling construction.[20]
From their position and general character these problematical
structures may possibly represent a period after the abandonment
of the pithouses or a period of transition from pit to abovesurface
structures. Perhaps slabs (so often used to line pithouses)
were carried over into surface dwellings but the as yet inexperienced
masons were forced to use much mortar and the reinforcement of
boulders to provide any stability. The 18 sherds in immediate association
with the walls in trench 24 showed the following percentages:
Lino, 67; La Plata, 28; Wingate, 5. Sherds associated with the walls
of this type to the west gave highly similar figures, and provide a
strong suggestion that the builders of these walls had a culture of
which the Lino Gray pottery complex may be diagnostic.

Cists.—For the slab-lined cists excavated by Mr. Bliss see Fig. 4.
The cist enclosing burial 60/31 is shown in Plate 4 before and after
removal of the cover which was composed of 4 major stone slabs,
one of them a "scoop" metate. Evidences of 3 lengthwise pieces of
cottonwood and of one crosswise piece were also found. The fill
around the burial was notable for its relative lack of sherd and other
refuse material. A few bones of small rodents were found within the
cist. Decayed roots were observed, some of which penetrated the
human bones. The latter were unusually disintegrated, probably
because water draining into the cist would tend to remain because of
the especially hard texture of the floor. The strata immediately


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above and surrounding the cist appeared to be continuous and undisturbed.
All in all, the evidence seemed to suggest that the cist had
been left exposed above the ground (or was a very shallow interment
like many of the refuse burials) and that the fill covering it had been
placed by wind and rain.

About 16″ above this cist was a layer (varying from ½″ to 1″
thick) of stone chips which could be traced on continuous distribution
at this level above this portion of the refuse mound (and as far south
as Sect. 9) over to the northern walls of Bc 51. Careful examination
of the contents of this layer and of its location and extent suggested
that it resulted from the building of some or all of these northern
rooms. Much of this sandstone layer was fairly well pulverized.
The distribution of chips in the layer was very similar to that in deposits
adjacent to the walls of Pueblo Bonito where Navaho workmen
have recently been repairing walls. The deposit here seemed too
extensive to represent merely repair, but this possibility cannot, of
course, be disregarded. On the whole, however, it seems most likely
from its position beneath the probable construction level that the cist
is of a period prior to the building of some, at least, of the northern
rooms of Bc 51.

Discussion.—As is evident from the foregoing, most of these structures
were discovered so late in the 1937 season that it is not possible
to do more than report upon their discovery and relative position.
From the data of superposition and stratigraphy it seems probable
that pits, walls, and cists represent sequential periods in that order.
But this must be regarded purely as a highly tentative interim communication.
The scrupulous excavation of these structures of the
refuse mound and their relationship to the clay layer (and the shale
which often overlays it, particularly to the west) and to soil profiles
generally, formed the principal problem of the 1938 excavations under
the direction of Dr. A. R. Kelly.


1938 excavations revealed that this was part of a "pithouse with antechamber,"
or possibly of a figure eight shaped pithouse.


Cf. Hough, 1920, p. 416. "Every pithouse revealed in excavation a mealing
stone lying on the floor."


Henceforth, when there is no possibility of confusion, pottery types will be
referred to without the qualifying "Black on White," etc. It may be assumed, for
example, that "Lino" invariably means "Lino Gray" unless the contrary is stated.


The 1938 excavations showed that these were definitely portions of room walls.