Cotton Pollen Discovery at the Haynie Site

Posted October 15, 2023

Here is an exciting report from Dr. Susan Ryan, Executive Vice President of the Research Institute:

Recently, Susie Smith, Crow Canyon’s palynologist (someone who studies the formation, classification, and distribution of pollen and spores) identified a single grain of cotton pollen from the floor of Structure 1073, a surface room, at the Haynie site. Structure 1073 is part of a Pueblo I period (A.D. 750–950) roomblock on the western side of the village. This is significant for multiple reasons!

Gossypium hirsutum was introduced to the areas north of the Mogollon Rim around A.D. 700. Like maize, beans, and squash, cotton was introduced from Mesoamerica. All known examples of cotton cloth (not plant parts) dating to the Pueblo I period were recovered from the Chinle and Tsegi drainages of northeastern Arizona. No examples of cotton textiles have been recovered from the central or eastern Mesa Verde region from this period.

We don’t believe the pollen grain at Haynie represents agricultural production of cotton in the Lakeview community since it needs warm growing conditions between 90-95 degrees Fahrenheit to mature. Instead, it most likely hitched a ride on cotton yarn, a boll, or a textile. Very exciting!