Four Corners Research-Archaeology in the Mesa Verde Region

Four Corners Research ® 7823 Road 25, Cortez, CO 81321    970-565-8758   ​
West end of Mitchell Springs Sector 11 great kiva. Note western floor vault and double bench. Arrow scale just outside the center of vault is 25 cm long. Roofing a structure of this size is no small engineering feat. The floor and roof were rebuilt and replaced at least twice.
Mitchell Springs Pit Structure 6 is approximately 8 meters across. It was set ablaze without salvaging useable roof beams. The Sector 11 great kiva was built over the top of it.
Approximately 80 Tree-Ring were collected from the burned roof of Structure 46 at Champagne. .
The MS great kiva was built over the top of a burned over-size pit structure that was built in A.D. 787.using many beams from an earlier structure that was built in A.D. 757  Note adobe column-like veneer at the bottom of NW main roof support post..
One of several quartz crystals from the west end of the MS great kiva. Hundreds of shell and turquoise beads were found in the upper and mid fill.
Shell and turquoise was quite abundant in the Mitchell Springs Sector 11 great kiva fill.
Knife blade from floor of MS Sector 11 great kiva, from beneath floor ramp feature near the western floor vault.
Portion of the south end of Mitchell Springs Sector 11 great kiva tested in 2002.
Turquoise bead from the floor fill below the roof of the MS great kiva.
Kiva 3 circa A.D. 950.  This structure incorporated an unusual SW ventilator. Note the masonry style of this early kiva. The wall niche at center-right in photo measures almost 25 cm across.
Small MS great house (Pueblo B) showing areas tested. This structure contains a 10+ meter diameter court kiva and multi-story construction.  Thick dashed line delineates the exterior of the building. A second kiva is located in the center-left of structure and was rebuilt in the 13th century.
Glendale College Field School working in the western end of Sector 11.  Excavations tested 8 surface rooms and 3 pit structures or early kivas. This area of the site was occupied during the A.D. 850-950 period.
Excavators working on Seg 9 of Room 1 on the east end of the North Hill at Champagne Spring. This and other structures in the immediate area were abandoned around A.D. 950-1000.
Randi taking a short break from her work in Champagne Spring Structure 37. In an unusual kiva closing ritual, numerous animals were simultaneously buried inside and around a stone cairn feature which stood more than a meter tall.
Below the Champagne Spring site in Squaw Canyon, this interesting petroglyph panel contains several mountain lion figures.
Sketching the floor plan and floor features of Structure 46 at Champagne Spring. The floor had unusual floor grooves and 5 sets of paired post holes. Some of these may have been used to anchor altars that could be moved during ceremonies. Note burned roof in strata,
Structure 37 during excavations in the south end of this kiva. Over 40 animals were sacrificed and then buried. The work is very slow due to the heavy amount of documentation and cramped working conditions.
T.Mitchell Pruden making notes  by "Unit 1" at Mitchell Springs circa 1914
Click on an image above to enlarge
Mitchell Springs Room 18 in great house Pueblo A.  Gretchen and Peggy at work.
Mitchell Springs Pueblo A Room 18 excavation in progress. Note McElmo Black on white bowl in room corner.  Door evidently leads to an antechamber for the central kiva,
This web site was created to function as a repository for information and photographs generated during research and survey projects performed by Glendale Community College, Scottsdale Community College and Paradise Valley Community College from 1988-2004.  Subsequent research conducted by members of various Chapters of the Colorado Archaeological Society will also be posted here.  Many of these members have decades of experience in the field and laboratory.  Over the last 23 years, we have conducted private property survey's of the Mitchell Springs and Champagne Spring community's.  As time permits, earlier publications and reports will be linked for easy access.  Current research involves test excavations at the Mitchell Springs  Ruin Group and Champagne Spring Ruins.  We are also working on a project that explores the chemical composition and trade patterns of San Juan redware in the Mesa Verde region and SE Utah. 

More information can be accessed by navigating to the links at the left of this text.   

Many thanks to the Verde Valley Archaeological Center and the Arizona Archaeological Society for all of the help.

From Pueblo A at the Mitchell Springs Ruin Group looking east toward Point Lookout, Mesa Verde National Park, Camp is under the big tree in meadow
Looking east from the Mitchell Springs Community toward Mesa Verde National Park visible in the distance
Items above are from the Mitchell Springs - Sector 11 Great Kiva floor. Shown here are non-local spondylus beads and a complete jet ring.  This and 3 partial jets rings were found on one of the many floor surfaces. Approximately 50 turquoise beads measuring 3.5 mm with 2 mm inlaid jet beads were also found on the floor with a broken Chaco B/W Cylinder mug.

     What a crew!  I am always amazed at the level of interest and the conscientious way in which our participants perform.  All but 2 of the 28 participants had previous excavation experience under the tutelage of some excellent archaeologists and boy are they good!. The third 2014 Field School at Mitchell Springs Ruin Group concluded yesterday and many fascinating discoveries were made while new mysteries came to light and others were solved.  
     Work continued on a Basketmaker III pitroom (photo left) which contained an interesting mix of tools that were left behind on the structure floor.  A slab metate was laying face down on the floor near a bell shaped pit that was apparently used for food storage. Its roof was of pole and brush style and was  partially covered with thin sand-
stone slabs. Entry was made through the southern wall and at least one large sandstone step was found to the south side of the structure (photo above right) where it was installed to reach the prehistoric ground level. Water would have been  diverted from the entry to prevent the flooding of the pitroom.  It appears there was no one living nearby for at least the next 10 years as no post occupational trash was found in the structure.  
     Our excellent crew leaders and seasoned veterans continued to demonstrate their ability to do exemplary work.  Two crews worked on the partial excavation of Structure 25 (photo below) which is a deep pitstructure that was abandoned around A.D. 840 or 850.  It was thoroughly burned and more than 100 tree-ring samples have already been collected.  This building contains over 30 square meters of floor space and probably served as a meeting place for large groups of people.  After a decade of sprinkler irrigation on my yard, a depression developed and our subsequent test of it revealed this structure. The floor is around 3 meters below today's ground surface and contains a slumping bench on the south end of the building. We've been working in this deep pitstructure and this week we reached the top of the wingwall (photo at
Structure 25 is in Dave's front yard.  Note Ann and Dana.....they work like machines.  Give them a little water and they keep on ticking.
right).  The structure fill contained several broken metates, broken cooking and serving vessels and pockets of burned brush.  During our last session, we will reach the floor of Structure 25.  
     A few meters to the west, nearby Pueblo A is a multi story greathouse with an appended Tri Wall structure on its west side.  This structure is different than previously examined Tri Walls in that the center chamber is a platform that was probably used for making smoke signals or for large cooking events.  Only about a dozen of these buildings are known to exist and little is known about their intended function.  
     Pueblo A contains at least 21 ground floor rooms including a central kiva.  Tests in this kiva (Kiva A photo to the left) have revealed a Chaco style kiva with patches of fine tabular masonry.  It was built into the center of the pueblo and was at least 2 stories tall. An interesting ventilator feature was built into the south end so as to avoid the problem of providing airflow when second story walls interfere with the shaft.
     On the east side of Kiva A lies Room 18 (photo to right).  It was thought that this room would have served as storage but our tests suggest it probably served a function related to the central kiva.  A doorway through the west wall of Room 18 indicates there is another room built into the interstitial space between the kiva and the kiva enclosing wall.  An ancillary single stone width wall was appended to the south wall.
     A portion of the second story floor/first story roof collapsed into the room and the 'finish' of the second story floor was visible in the casting.  Plaster was spread over the top of the 1st floor roof leaving reed and small stick impressions.  Many of the roof casts found inside the room contained corn impressions ....some of which appear to be quite large compared to most of the burned cobs recovered in the room.
     On the last day, a complete McElmo Black-on-white bowl (see right) that had dropped from the 2nd story floor was found in the northwest corner of the room.

Until next time...


Step-through entry and stair into pitroom.  Stair was angled to move water runoff down hill. 
Pitroom from Basketmaker III period. Door is at bottom.
Tom, Karen, Chris and Dana (top to bottom) Structure 25
Top of Structure 25 wingwall visible under North arrow