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
Second story wall collapsed into Kiva A which was built beneath it.  This wall weighed several tons and fell through when a fire consumed Pueblo A.
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.

     Yet another amazing crew.  I don't get tired of talking about the dedicated and conscientious work all of you do.  Those who attended one of the four 2014 Mitchell Springs Field Schools all made new friends and I dare say some good memories. I may not be able to physically perform at the same level as you all but it still kicked my butt.  
     Check out the plan and the photo's of Kiva A and Room 18 inside Pueblo A (see Plan View to left). Test excavations in these rooms has led to some interesting discoveries. The work is expected to reveal structure architectural characteristics, provide a sample of floor specimens and feature assortment, and hopefully collect datable materials. 
     An effort to emulate a construction style which had roots in Chaco is apparent in the preplanned footprint of the Pueblo as well as some masonry style characteristics incorporated into some of the rooms.  The front two rows of storage rooms on the south end of the pueblo and the four storage rooms on the east side of Pueblo A were single story rooms that stood over 3 meters tall.  All of the remaining rooms were two stories tall.  The central kiva was built with rectangular rooms above it so in effect, it was a room that was concealed by contemporaneously used  surrounding rooms on all sides, including above it.  During the partial excavation of Room 11 in the early 1990's, a subfloor test revealed the presence of earlier rooms beneath it, and beneath the central kiva.  Excavations inside these two rooms are underway and will continue in the Summer of 2015.  Both were fully lined with masonry and were probably built in the early 12th century.   
    The work in Room 18 is nearly complete (see photo at left). Only the west half of the room was excavated. Next season, subfloor testing will tell us if any other structures or features lie beneath it.  A doorway that was built into the west wall of Room 18 would suggest the presence of another room inside the interstitial space at the northeast corner of the double wide kiva enclosing wall (see Room 18 in Pueblo A photo above left). It's noteworthy that this kiva was the only kiva in this pueblo.  The first wall that was built when construction of Pueblo A began, enclosed the entire pueblo.  
     Another interesting item in regard to the preplanned footprint of Pueblo A is that only two of the 22 ground floor rooms were habitation rooms. They are the only square shaped rooms in the pueblo, a trait that was also found at Salmon Ruins in Bloomfield NM. The second story rooms above these two rooms were also used for domestic activities such as cooking and sleeping but were evidently not used for grinding operations.  Both the upper and lower floor rooms were directly connected via roof hatchways.  In the Summer of  2015 or 2016, the area on the west side of the west wall doorway in Room 18 will be tested to determine how that space was used. 
  Kiva A has been a fascinating bit of discovery. Some of its masonry is of a finer style than appears to be the norm at Mitchell Springs. Like Room 18, Kiva A also burned in a cataclysmic fire that ended the occupation of Pueblo A and probably the entire Mitchell Springs Community. It has no southern recess which is not the norm for kivas built and used during this time period in the Montezuma Valley.  In the space that is often reserved for a southern recess, an elaborate ventilator feature was engineered and constructed. This feature brought fresh air down into the kiva chamber from either the floor of the room above it or from atop Pueblo A.  The pressure differential between the dark spaces in Kiva A in the belly of the pueblo, to the sunlit intake point 20 feet above (on the roof of Pueblo A), would have created a natural circulating cooling effect in the summer months.  Regulating the airflow into the ventilator would prevent too much cold air from entering during cold nights.  On one of the masonry stones that was used to create the elaborated ventilator feature (see photo below Left), an interesting petroglyph was carved.
​     A very thin bench was located and a test to confirm it was indeed present removed a 4-5 cm thick section of the material that had been applied to the bench and bench back. This revealed 20 layers of different colored plaster that ranged in color from white to red to gray. Next season the bench will be be uncovered and we should get a look at some of the Kiva A floor.  

See Mitchell Springs Tab for more information on this work.......

Structure 25 was burned at abandonment with tools, vessels and other objects on the floor.  Sage was used as an accelerant to help get the initial fire hot. Moccasin Gray jar was broken by falling roof beams
Pueblo A, Note Tri Wall appended to west end.  Central kiva was not visible from outside of the pueblo.
​20 layers of different colored plaster was coated on the top and back of the bench.  White was the most common of these but red and gray were also used.  
Pueblo A, Rm 18, west half floor, note ancilary dividing wall at right side of photo. It also had a passage built into it.