The Great Lower Chaco River Ruins Expedition (part B)

 Willow Creek Community is a large Pueblo 1 site on the east side of Willow Creek Wash, a drainage flowing north into the Chaco River.  The remains of the foundations to the houses show vertical slabs defining the outer and inner walls, with adobe, mud or rock fill between them, a harbinger of the later core-fill construction so common at the Chaco Culture NHP ruins.  It appears these Pueblo 1 constructions did not include high, dressed masonry walls however.  Instead, waddle and daub and similar construction techniques most likely created the living spaces, an improvement over the old Pit House construction but still similar to it.
 All around here other types of Ancient Puebloan sites exist.  The pipeline archaeologist found a Hopi-style shrine on the mesa just to the north across the road, in alignment with the prehistoric road already discussed.  Higher up the slope south from the community of domiciles, we see a squarish, enclosed space resembling a ball court or spiritual space for dance and ceremony, still defined yet today with vertical slab rock construction.
 One of our party found a fragment of a shell bracelet on this perimeter.  The view north from above the community’s south mesa, across our parked cars, shows the expanse of this territory.  Pot shards practically covered the ground for acres here.

This shot of the Willow Creek Community shows low rubble mounds up close but they extend over a large area here with profuse pot shard scatter.  To the right uphill, we explored the spiritual or sporting or ceremonial squarish space outlined by upright stone slabs on its perimeter.  Higher up yet, several Pueblo I houses are found.  Across the road to the north, other sites exist which we did not have time to explore today.  No trees and 102 degrees so we sat in the vehicles’ shadows and took our lunch break here.  Prof. Windes did some surveying of the site.

Two of the researchers demarcate the catty corners of the squarish ceremonial space outlined with visible, upright slab stones.  The surface inside the perimeter is mostly smooth, slick rock.  It is located some 50’+ above the community of homes just to the north downhill.

This view looks north from the highest area of the Willow Creek community, just south and another 30’ above the squarish ceremonial space. We are looking across the community of unit ruins below to the mesa which has cultural structures like a square, Hopi-style shrine and a possible stone ring.  Other sites lie below this mesa facing back south to us.

Jonathan Till of Crow Canyon Archaeological Center found this shell bracelet fragment at the squarish ceremonial site here.

Here we show a typical shard scatter at the Willow Canyon site.

Well, for the record, I wanted to show our driver’s vehicle registering a 102 degree outdoor ambient temperature here.  Later I observed a reading of 114 degrees on our way home around 5:30 pm.


 Several miles down the road west from Willow Community we stopped to find a reported ruin named Weaver’s House.  The guide Tom Windes had not located it prior to this expedition.  A Great Kiva is also reported in the literature in this area.  By surveying the landscape before setting off from the cars, Prof. Windes pointed to the highest point of the roadside mesa to our west and said this would be the most likely place for the ruins.
 And then we hiked up the mesa right into it!  The Great Kiva, if it exists, could not be located in the hour we had to knock around this area.  This is a very large Pueblo I Great House with a plaza to its south.  The plaza is a feature not seen in the other Pueblo I sites we visited today.  Fewer pot shards exist here

Jonathan Till is taking some notes at Weaver’s House, located in lower Willow Creek Wash on the west side’s mesa top.  This is a very large Pueblo I Great House ruin with plaza apparently on its south side, a more modern feature and not seen at the other Pueblo I sites we visited today.  Note the upright stone slab construction of inner and outer walls with core fills.  Such walls could not have been very high and were composed primarily of wattle and daub or similar constructions reminiscent of Pit Houses and Basketmaker Culture sites.  The Chuska Mountains (pron.: Chooska) can be seen in the hazy western horizon.

This view from Weaver’s House looks northwest to the Lukachukai Mts. in the middle distance.  The Chuska Mts. are to the left.  The Shiprock formation is not quite visible in the photo but is located just behind the Native American student taking in the vista. The 2 "Prayer Rock" type formations in front of him, in the haze, are located south of the Shiprock formation along NM State Highway 491 (formerly S. R. 666).

For a perspective, I shot this looking east from the Weaver’s House site.  You are viewing the convoy of vehicles parked on the road below (look like ants?) to the Willow Creek Wash just past them which flows from right (north) to left (south).

(part A)    (part B)    (part C)




Out There    The Navajos

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