Roundy Crossing Excavation, Sitgrieves Nat'l Forest, Pinedale Arizona

On May 22nd, my 12 year old son and I packed up our camping gear and headed for a small settlement in northern Arizona called Pinedale near the town of Showlow to participate as volunteers on an excavation with PIT, Passport In Time, a program which works to excavate, record and preserve archaeological sites for the US Forest Service. The excavation was located within the Sitgreaves National Forest and is known as "Roundy Crossing" As you can see by the photograph, the area, at an elevation of 6500 feet, is forested with pines rather the typical Arizona desert terrain.

Corregated ceramic bowl being excavated at the pueblo level. To the right of the bowl a fire hearth. The floor below is the ancient Pit House

Later, a bell shaped roasting pit revealed itself beside the hearth!

Roundy Crossing was home to a Native American people, known today as the Mogollon. The Mogollon tribe occupied a pueblo they built at Roundy Crossing from about AD 1170 to AD 1187. The pueblo, however had been built upon and even older pit house which has yet to be dated!! Artifacts were discovered on both levels. The bulk of the artifacts were found at the pueblo level. Some of them, like a perfectly preserve complete black and white ceramic ladle, were stunning. The pit house level yielded mostly projectile points and animal bones.

A small sample of the variety of ceramics and tools found a Roundy Crossing still covered in dirt from the excavation

Roundy Crossing is a place of mysterys. First of which is the unusual variety of ceramics that have been found. Most often, a pueblo has a particular style of ceramic artwork on their vessels. Roundy crossing had everything under the sun! Black on white, Corregated, McDonald Corregated, Black on red, you name it!! It is theorized that Roundy Pueblo, located at the junction of two rivers, was along and ancient travel route and the Mogollon traded or adopted ceramic styles from the tribes passing through.

Another indication of traveling people is the large number of foot and sandal petroglyphs. Over 400 petroglyphs were recorded in the immediate area!

Another mystery is why the Mogollon people left their home at Roundy Pueblo. They left in a hurry, that much is certain. Ceramics were in place by the side of ancient hearths, beads were side by side with others, only the strand gone between them. It looks like they just grabbed the kids and ran for their lives, leaving their possessions behind them forever. It might likely have been a fire that chased them from their homes. The pueblo burned on more than one occaision. The pueblo was not looted in ancient times so far as we can tell and it is not located defensively so it does not appear that the Mogollon were attacked.

Another mystery: All on the same level, therefore believed to be the same age, at the top of the image is a mealing bin used for grinding. You can use the mealing bin without your feet being in the fire pit behind it, which has a roasting pit directly behind that!! Weird!

A post hole was discovered in an unusual location, the center of a pueblo room. Our archaeologist spoke to a tribal elder who suggested that it could have been a birthing room. Women would give birh in a squatting position, clinging to a centrally located pole in the room. I was told about a hospital in New Mexico that today has a birthing room for this method of delivery.

A strange carved and still faintly painted shell pendant in the form of a face found in the "birthing room"

My main job at Roundy Crossing was to produce a map of the site, which had never been formally mapped. An archaeologist and I worked together taking compass readings and measuring the centerlines of the ancient walls. Single line drawings of the centerline drawings were what was needed. I spent most of my time kneeling in the dirt with my board on a pile of rocks aligned north. Very different from my usual drafting jobs! I never had a shovel full of dirt land in the middle of my drawing before!

Drafting in the dirt!!

My line drawing done in the field. We kept finding more rooms and I ended up drawing over my notes!

The final drawing, to scale in metric in AutoCAD. Pretty simple compared to most of my AutoCAD drawings, but it represents nearly two full days of careful and tedious measurements and calculations. We drove into town to use the Forest Services AutoCAD since my lap to crashed right before the trip!!

Last, but not least… among the many hazards of archaeological drafting… dirt, snakes and sunstroke, all of which I experienced first hand… the most horrible of them all….. the dreaded Arizona Sunburn!!!
You may wish to skip this last photo...