by Melissa J. Churchill

About Woods Canyon Pueblo

From 1994 through 1996, the Crow Canyon Archaeological Center conducted test excavations at Woods Canyon Pueblo (Site 5MT11842), a Pueblo III village located in the central Mesa Verde region, in southwestern Colorado. The excavations were undertaken as part of the Center's Village Testing Project, which was designed to further our understanding of community development during the Pueblo II and III periods (see Ortman et al. [2000*1] and "Research Objectives and Methods" for more-detailed discussions of project goals and methods). Fieldwork at Woods Canyon focused on the test excavation of a small number of kivas and their associated middens in an effort to date the occupation of the site and to assess kiva use and abandonment mode. Several possible public areas and water-control features were also tested.

The results of both surface mapping and subsurface testing indicate that Woods Canyon Pueblo had approximately 50 kivas, 16 towers, and between 120 and 220 surface rooms, as well as numerous midden areas, several water-control features, and a possible plaza. Multiple lines of evidence, including tree-ring dates, pottery data, and architectural style, indicate that the pueblo was inhabited for approximately 150 years, from about A.D. 1140 through the late 1200s. The village was located only .75 km southwest of a large reservoir whose use is believed to have overlapped with the occupation of the pueblo (Crow Canyon's excavations at the reservoir are reported separately in Wilshusen et al. [1997*1]). The departure of the inhabitants from Woods Canyon Pueblo toward the end of the thirteenth century coincided with the general depopulation of the Mesa Verde region as a whole.

About this Publication

The 11 chapters that make up this publication include analytic and interpretive summaries similar to those presented in traditional printed site reports. There is one notable difference, however, between this electronic volume and publications that exist only on paper: Although summary data are reported in both tabular and graphic form to support the arguments presented in text, the emphasis in this publication is on interpretation and synthesis, not on the reporting of basic data. For the latter, the reader is referred to The Woods Canyon Pueblo Database, a digital, on-line database that contains far more descriptive and analytic data than would be possible to publish on paper. Information assembled in the database includes detailed field observations, the results of basic artifact and ecofact analyses, a history of investigations at the site, a description of site physiography, the details of land ownership and government permitting, and an explanation of field methods specific to our work at Woods Canyon. The two publications—the interpretive chapters and the supporting database—are designed to be complementary, but each may be used independent of the other as well.


This site report and its supporting database are electronically linked, which allows users to read text while calling up the relevant maps, photographs, excavation data, and artifact information from the database. To assist the reader in using this new format, we provide the following tips and guidelines (paragraphs 5–9):


Each chapter in this publication (see Contents) contains links to a variety of auxiliary text and/or graphics files, including figures, tables, and references. This publication automatically opens a second browser window when the reader clicks on a link, and the linked item is displayed in the second window. By selecting either the chapter window or the "link window," the reader can move back and forth between the two. Alternatively, the reader can resize the two windows, position them side-by-side, then view the contents of both simultaneously. (To navigate effectively between duplicate open windows, the reader needs to understand how his or her particular browser handles such situations.) Each time the reader selects another link to a figure, table, or reference, that item will replace the previously linked item in the "link window."

This publication also contains links to maps and photographs in The Woods Canyon Pueblo Database. These links are referenced in text as "Database Map" or "Database Photo," and each reference includes a unique number that corresponds to its number in the database.

This publication uses HTML style sheets and therefore is best viewed with a browser that supports this feature. Readers whose browsers do not support styles may experience minor display irregularities, but these should not interfere with reading or navigating the publication.

Paragraph Numbering

Because page breaks in electronic publications are dependent on document parameters (for example, font type and margin width) selected by individual users, readers who wish to cite the sources of specific material cannot use standard page-number reference formats in their in-text citations. Therefore, to help the reader cite specific text passages in the electronic site report, we have assigned consecutive numbers to every individual paragraph, by chapter; these paragraph numbers may be used in lieu of page numbers in in-text reference citations.

Reference Citation Format

The reader will notice that the format used for references in this publication varies slightly from typical citation formats. Specifically, a suffix consisting of an asterisk and a number is appended to every author-date citation in text, creating a unique code for any given reference. This same code (author-date-suffix) is repeated at the beginning of the corresponding entry in the lists of references. This system allows us to generate reference lists automatically from an electronic database and minimizes the potential for introducing error during production.


We welcome user feedback on this publication. Your comments and suggestions will help Crow Canyon refine its electronic formats and produce publications that better serve the needs of our readers.

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Copyright © 2002 by Crow Canyon Archaeological Center. All rights reserved.