The June 10, 2018, GCAS field trip to the UNLV Field School's final season of excavation at Elk Ridge in the Mimbres River Valley was brief due to the warm summer temperatures, but our guides shared some of their findings that their excavations has yielded to date. Skidmore College assistant professor Katie Baustian (left, in photo) and UNLV graduate student Daniel Perez (second from left) discussed with us certain features of the Elk Ridge pueblo ruins that appear consistent with other sites; and other features they uncovered that seem less common.
For example, like most Mimbres pueblos built on lower ground near rivers or streams, the Elk Ridge structures were generally built using mostly smooth and rounded cobble stones held together by and covered over with adobe. Also similar to other Mimbres pueblos, rooms were added gradually over time and as-needed, often resulting in slightly misaligned walls built with somewhat different construction techniques. The photo on the left shows an older, larger room in the foreground; the line of walls along the right side of the photo makes a slight deviation where the more recent, smaller room in the background was joined to it.
Certain portions of some of the walls were built with one or two large rectangular slab rocks instead of cobbles, and in one such instance the large slab rock had been obviously worked by hand - but for what purpose is unknown. Look closely at the back wall behind and just to the left of the stack of orange buckets in the photo on the right, and you will see one such slab of whitish stone embedded in the upper portion of the rear wall.
One of the older pueblo rooms showed evidence of having been occupied for a long time, with some remodeling having occurred. Traces of adobe still covered small sections of one wall. The room's size had required multiple posts to support the roof, and a large, roughly square hearth full of ash was located near a ventilation chamber. (Hearth's in the lower right corner of pic.) All these factors have led the archaeologists to conclude that this was a "lineage room," representing a household in which a single extended family may have lived for a few generations.
Smaller artifacts the Field School has recovered include potsherds and pot fragments, as well as an assortment of other objects including one very well-worn metate. One of the obsidian arrowheads the GCAS was shown was so small, slim, and delicately worked that it looked more like jewelry than a functioning tool. It appears that the UNLV students can look forward to many more months of analysis and cataloguing of all they have uncovered.
Thank you, Dr. Roth and UNLV, for letting us visit and showing us the fruits of your hard work. We look forward to reading about all your conclusions!