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Northern Chaco Outliers Project

Haynie Stabilization

A view of the Haynie site.

Archaeologists, Students, and Lifelong Learners
Begin Third Season of Excavation in 2019

Archaeologists, students, and lifelong learners begin the third year of excavation in 2019.The focus of the project is the Haynie Site (5MT1905), a significant ancestral Pueblo village located just northeast of Cortez. Full-time excavation began during the 2017 field season, and the project will continue for several years.

The Haynie site contains two Chaco–period (A.D. 1050–1140) great houses as well as evidence of substantial earlier occupations. All are part of the larger Lakeview group, which includes the two great houses at the Haynie Site and two others nearby on private land. This makes the Lakeview group one of the densest concentrations of great houses found north of Aztec Ruins.
“There are few communities in the Mesa Verde area that have a tight clustering of public and residential architecture,” said Susan Ryan, Ph.D., director of archaeology at Crow Canyon. “We don’t see many examples of this dense concentration of great houses in the Mesa Verde region.” Others include Lowry Pueblo, 27 miles northwest of Cortez, the Farview community at Mesa Verde National Park, and the community at Mitchell Springs, just south of Cortez.

Unlike the individual small houses in which most ancestral Pueblo families of this era lived, multistory great houses were built to accommodate many households in one large structure. Great houses first developed in Chaco Canyon, in present-day northwestern New Mexico, beginning in approximately A.D. 800. Around A.D. 1080, the Chaco regional system expanded to the area north of the San Juan River—including the Aztec and Salmon Pueblos, the largest great houses outside of Chaco Canyon. Many archaeologists believe the great houses at Aztec Ruins became a center of power equal to Chaco Canyon and probably succeeded Chaco as the primary center during the mid–A.D. 1100s.

kiva haynie

A kiva at the Haynie Site.

The Northern Chaco Outliers Project is designed to generate data necessary to address questions that are fundamental to understanding a series of broader anthropological research domains. Materials collected from the Haynie Site will provide insights into changing human-environment relationships though time, social stratification and equality/inequality, the roles of public architecture and community centers, and identity formation. Engaging in research focused on these domains will enable Crow Canyon to fulfill its mission by advancing and sharing knowledge of the human past and contributing to cross-cultural discussions of human behavior around the world in the past, present, and future.

In 2016, a History Colorado State Historical Fund grant supported the initial site assessment, remote sensing survey, drone mapping, and planning of research at the Haynie Site. A second State Historical Fund grant supported ongoing field and laboratory work during the 2017 and 2018 seasons. Crow Canyon’s Pueblo Advisory Group has visited the site multiple times and participated in a collaborative research design process with Crow Canyon staff. In 2018, architectural stabilization was conducted on the standing portions of the east great house to ensure the preservation of this building which also made the location safe for excavation during future field seasons.

Summary of Pottery Data for the Northern Chaco Outliers Project as of March 2019

NCOP graph

Excavations to this point have focused largely on the earlier occupational episodes at the site. Pit structures have been uncovered in three separate excavation units dating from the late Pueblo I (A.D. 700–900) through the early Pueblo II (A.D. 900–1100) periods. Current data suggests these pit structures were occupied sequentially rather than simultaneously, indicating a persistent use of the location. Additionally, pottery and lithic materials reveal the residents of the Haynie Site participated in a broad trade network extending to the south and east of the Mesa Verde region. For instance, obsidian sourcing suggests this material was procured from Mt. Taylor and the Jemez Mountains in New Mexico.

 2018 Intern Katie Portman

2018 Field Intern Katie Portman helps to stabilize the East Great House

“Because we believe the Haynie Site was occupied from the Basketmaker III period into the thirteenth century, this is a chance to collect data from the initial occupation of the site to the time when depopulation took place throughout the region. The A.D. 1130–1180 drought is particularly important, because those five decades of extreme moisture deficiency on the Colorado Plateau caused some communities to depopulate, while others held their population, and a few even grew.”—Dr. Susan Ryan

ARP Haynie

A Crow Canyon participant working along side a staff Archaeologist at the west side of the Haynie Site.

NCOP material evidence
Material evidence of long-distance ties (from left to right):
Chaco or Gallup Black-on-White sherd from Chaco Canyon, New Mexico,
Cheese and Raisins chert from southeastern Utah, and Zuni Spotted chert from the Zuni Mountains.

Although the Haynie Site contains some of the most important archaeological information in the Mesa Verde region, we are still learning about its occupation and how it functioned within the larger community and Chaco regional system. The data we are in the process of gathering with volunteers and participants will dramatically increase our understanding of Chaco influence in the Mesa Verde region, changing human/environment relationships during the A.D. 1130–1180 drought, and the emergence and functioning of community centers through time. The research at the Haynie site will, in turn, tie into data Crow Canyon has collected over the past 36 years.

In 2019, and due in part to the three designations above, The Archaeological Conservancy received a State Historical Fund Acquisition and Development grant to purchase the Haynie Site from the current landowners, the Haynie Ranch, LLC. Once the property is transferred in the spring/summer of 2019, The Archaeological Conservancy and Crow Canyon researchers will collaborate on developing a long-term preservation and management plan for the site. We look forward to collaborating with The Archaeological Conservancy and continuing this important research at the Haynie Site and part of the Northern Chaco Outliers Project.

In addition to Crow Canyon’s professional researchers, participants in Crow Canyon’s Archaeology Research Programs, school group programs, teen camps, and College Field School will excavate at the Haynie site during the 2019 season. The public may only visit the site through Crow Canyon programs.

The Northern Chaco Outliers Project is funded in part by the State Historical Fund (a program of History Colorado, the Colorado Historical Society).

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