Stabilization Work Completed at the Haynie Site

Posted April 25, 2024

One of the most important obligations we have as archaeologists is to protect cultural sites in perpetuity. Crow Canyon partners regularly meet with tribal members and affiliated groups to assess sites at which we work to establish and implement appropriate preservation plans.

This month, preservation work was completed at the Haynie site, part of the Northern Chaco Outliers Project. The work was done in collaboration with The Archaeological Conservancy, who owns and stewards the property on which the Haynie site resides and who received a History Colorado State Historical Fund grant for this project, and Woods Canyon Archaeological Consultants, who performed the hands-on stabilization work.

Specifically, Woods Canyon focused on stabilizing the standing architecture of the east great house. “This follows a condition assessment completed in 2017 that evaluated water movement through the site and pressures on the walls, and looked for mortar loss, leans, cracks, and bulges,” explains Shanna Diederichs, Conservation Program Director for Woods Canyon. At that time, Shanna led an initial stabilization effort to cap the structural walls.

“Capping equates to a treatment of the top of the architecture that gets the most weathering,” says Shanna. “Without a roof, the tops of walls erode and can peel apart.”

For this latest round of stabilization, the team, led by Shanna, focused exclusively on safety issues. “There are loose stones on the wall caps. Anything that could pose a threat to anyone trying to work inside the kivas, we’re stabilizing those stones,” explains Shanna.

Shanna’s a master at her craft and she’s thoughtful about her approach in working with ancient architecture such as the east great house at the Haynie site. “My philosophy is that you shouldn’t be able to tell where we’ve been. We’re out there mixing mud, applying it by hand, and touching it up by hand. It’s important to try to mimic the fabric of the structure, and preserve the feeling, setting, and design of that place,” shares Shanna.

Processes and efforts like these remind us how much we can learn from architecture at archaeological sites. As a specialist in archaeological architecture documentation, Shanna is passionate about what architecture can tell us. “Often we treat architecture only as the container that holds everything, but it’s so much more—it’s an expression,” says Shanna. “Think about our present-day homes, the places we live, those are absolute examples of cultural expression and places of experience. Even the exterior plaster work of these ancient structures was an expression of who created it.”