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 Structure 25 excavation.  Greathouse Pueblo A is visible in the background.
Mitchell Springs Sector 7 Structure 25 excavation in progress.  Pueblo A work ongoing in the background. City of Cortez is in the background.  Structure 25 appears to date to the first half of the 9th Century and Structure 26 dates to somewhere in the a.d. 700's. 
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.


Aug 1-4            Mitchell Springs Ruin Group, Cortez CO
Aug 8-10          Pecos Conference held in nearby Blanding Utah
Aug 15-18        Mitchell Springs Ruin Group, Cortez CO

If interested in attending contact Tom Hoff or Dave Dove
From Mitchell Springs Ruin Group looking east toward Point Lookout Mesa Verde National Park
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.

The second 2014 Field School at Mitchell Springs Ruin Group concluded on Monday and again we are very pleased with how everything turned out.  We had an excellent group of veteran and first-time participants and the quality of their work was exceptional. We continued working on a Basketmaker III pit room which contains an interesting mix of tools that were left behind on the structure floor.  A low intensity fire may have consumed the structure.  The bent tree limb roof was burned in the center and was covered with thin sandstone slabs. 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. 

The adjacent small great house was originally built in the late A.D. 1000's over the top of some late Basketmaker III, Pueblo I and early Pueblo II structures.  We are examining the occupational history of the area under and around this building.  Puebloans propensity for building atop structures from earlier times, events that are sometimes separated by centuries, is a phenomenon that has long been 

recognized by archaeologists.  Perhaps the most compelling explanation for this behavior is the Pueblo peoples desire to rebuild where their ancestors once lived. Part of this could be related to the manner in which land rights or status in the community are preserved.  Given that the pattern also occurs outside of communities in isolated hamlets, there appears to be a symbolic meaning to this pattern.  Our studies of this portion of the Mitchell Springs Ruin Group will provide a clearer picture of the types of structures and features that predate the greathouse as the builders may also have had kinship ties to these earlier structures.  Our current research examines the possible relationship between these structures and features and the greathouse that lies above them. 
Testing central kiva and Room 18 in small great house Pueblo A.
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