Recent Archaeological Research in Petrified Forest National Park

Part of: Society for American Archaeology 80th Annual Meeting, San Francisco, CA (2015)

Petrified Forest National park has been the subject of archaeological research for well over 100 years. In 2004 Congress authorized a boundary expansion, effectively doubling the protected land in Petrified Forest National Park. As these lands are slowly being purchased and added to the park, a three year project began in 2013 to inventory cultural resources. The results of the first two seasons of survey and recording work have found a stunning density and diversity of archaeological remains. Archaeological sites spanning the last 10,000 years of human occupation have been identified and recorded, including most notably extensive preceramic sites and lithic landscapes, large Basketmaker villages, and a densely settled Puebloan landscape. The National Park Service has taken this opportunity to use the boundary expansion project as a teaching laboratory and platform for future investigation, incorporating student interns and researchers into the project. This session presents an update of the recent archaeology completed in Petrified Forest, and highlights some of the independent student research projects.

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Documents
  • 13,000 Years of History in 990 Square Feet: Recent Undertakings in Public Archaeology at Petrified Forest National Park. (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Caitlin Ainsworth.

    Petrified Forest National Park boasts an archaeological record spanning 13,000 years of human history with occupations dating from the Paleoindian, Archaic, Basketmaker II and III, Pueblo I –IV, and Historic periods. This remarkable depth and diversity of archaeological sites has long drawn the interest and attention of researchers. Yet the public remains largely uninformed about many of the park’s unique cultural resources. Recent undertakings in public archaeology at the park are beginning to...

  • All Potted Up: Exploring Seasonality at Small Late Pueblo II and Early Pueblo III Sites at Petrified Forest National Park (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Robert (Reuven) Sinensky.

    Researchers have conducted archaeological investigations within the vicinity of what is now Petrified Forest National Park (PEFO) for over 100 years. Although the majority of archaeological sites identified at Petrified Forest National Park consist of small habitation sites that date to the late Pueblo II (1030-1125 AD) and early Pueblo III (1125-1225 AD) periods, archaeologists have gathered little information regarding the habitation practices of people during this transitional time period....

  • Clarifying Late Archaic, Basketmaker, and Pueblo I Project Point Types at Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona (2016)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Cody Dalpra. Brian Harmon. Reuven Sinensky.

    Late Archaic, Basketmaker, and Pueblo I time period projectile point types are problematic in the greater Southwest because many exhibit considerable morphological overlap. The sizable collections from Petrified Forest National Park represent an excellent test case where all of these time periods are well represented. To characterize their considerable morphological range we analyze over 80 projectile points from cross dated surface finds and the excavated sites of the Basketmaker-era Flattop...

  • Clay Reconnaissance and Suitability Testing within Petrified Forest National Park (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Samantha Linford.

    The likelihood of endemic clays both suitable and used for local ceramic production within the Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona is disputed. Researchers imply clays within the park are unsuitable for ceramic production. Ethno-archaeological studies, though, document that most traditional potting communities procure clay for ceramic production within a three to five kilometer radius of their residence (Arnold 1985). In this case, past individuals residing within the current park boundaries...

  • Documenting Lithic Landscapes of Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Carlyn Stewart. Gregory Luna Golya.

    Archaeological lithic landscapes can encompass a broad range of geographic settings – local to regional – where lithic procurement activities by people have left indelible evidence of lithic resource use. The Petrified Forest National Park (PEFO), Arizona on the Colorado Plateau is best known for its massive exposure of late Triassic period petrified logs in the park. Petrified wood lithic debitage and tools dominate the lithic assemblages of prehistoric sites at the park. However, the park also...

  • From Ocean to Desert: Analysis of Prehistoric Shell Through Type, Use, and Trade Routes to Petrified Forest National Park (2016)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Alexandra Covert.

    Shell jewelry at Petrified Forest National Park has been found from Basketmaker II through Pueblo IV. Since there are no local sources of marine shell, it is important to understand how trade routes from the Gulf of California and the Gulf of Mexico directly affected how shell was traded to this region. Shell recovered from archaeological contexts curated in the Petrified Forest National Park collections were typed according to class, genus, and species and were sourced to the Gulf of California...

  • It's a Slippery Slope: The Impacts of Erosion on the Spatial Distribution of Artifacts (2016)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Ashley Packard.

    This project looks at the spatial distribution of lithic and ceramic artifacts on slopes in Petrified Forest National Park to examine erosional impacts on distribution. Archaeologists use the spatial distribution of artifacts to identify features and their functions. Therefore, it is important that the affect of erosion moving artifacts out of their primary contexts is understood. It is hypothesized that patterns exist in the way artifacts erode downslope. Transects are put across site slopes...

  • Lithic Analysis from the Rainbow Forest Clovis Site (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Erina Gruner.

    During the late Pleistocene the Rainbow Forest Playa Paleoindian site at Petrified Forest National Park was an area where Clovis people procured lithic materials and took advantage of a local riparian microenvironment. This poster presents recent research on lithic tool assemblages from the Rainbow Forest Playa site, including microwear analysis from archaeological materials and the results of replicative experiments. Results suggest that while the site was clearly used as a lithic quarry, a...

  • Lithic Landscapes and Basketmaker Villages: An Update of the 2014 Petrified Forest Boundary Expansion Survey (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Katrina Erickson. William Reitze.

    In 2004 Congress authorized Petrified Forest National Park to more than double in size, in part to protect unique cultural resources. This poster introduces the preliminary results of the first and second seasons of pedestrian survey in these new lands. So far this research has recorded archaeological sites dating from the Early Archaic through the Late Pueblo periods. Sites range from lithic landscapes covering hundreds of acres to multi-room masonry or jacal structures. Mapping in...

  • Petroglyphs of East Tank Mesa and the Mac Stod Great House: Using Rock Art to Gauge Regional Influences in Petrified Forest National Park (2016)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Maxwell Forton.

    East Tank Mesa is a prominent landform located within the new expansion lands of Petrified Forest National Park: harboring a high concentration of Pueblo II-Pueblo III petroglyph panels and one of the region’s few possible Chacoan outliers. This possible outlier is the Mac Stod site: a seven-room pueblo possessing some of the hallmarks of Chacoan architecture (core veneer masonry, large rooms, long straight walls, and well constructed rectangular doorways). The nature of Mac Stod, and whether it...

  • Pithouses, Pueblos, Projectile Points, Petroglyphs, and Possible Plazas: An Update on the 2015 Petrified Forest National Park Boundary Expansion Survey (2016)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Emilio Santiago. Reuven Sinensky.

    Petrified Forest National Park is in the third and final year of its Boundary Expansion Survey, which has nearly doubled the park’s size to 221,552 acres. Over the last three years researchers have identified and recorded over 300 archaeological sites in a variety of ecological zones. Our survey focuses on a 640-acre parcel that encompasses flat grasslands, dune-covered Triassic ridges, washes, and mesa tops. Site types range from large Basketmaker II habitation sites, to Pueblo II and Pueblo...

  • Pot Hunting, Artifact Collection and Site Destruction: A Study of a Multi Generational Pot Hunting Family on the Colorado Plateau (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Kathryn Turney.

    Both historic and prehistoric archaeologists reply on oral history as a powerful tool for understanding archaeological context. Although traditional archaeological research can provide useful information about the past, gathering information from ethnographic or historical sources can shed light on past uses of material culture. Oral history can also provide useful information about traditions, belief systems and origin stories. The focus of this project has been to interview people with ties...

  • Sourcing and Trade of Basalt and Turquoise to Petrified Forest National Park (2016)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Mary M. Hagen.

    This project seeks to understand how the basalt and turquoise found at Petrified Forest National Park fits into the trade networks of the Southwest. The procurement and subsequent movement of basalt and turquoise materials have been studied in the Southwest, but not at Petrified Forest National Park. Basalt axe heads, vesicular basalt pipes, and turquoise beads/pendants were recovered from multiple sites but no natural outcrops of either source have been found within the park boundaries. For...

  • Space and Settlement Across the Painted Desert: Comparing the Land Use Patterns of Preceramic Groups at Petrified Forest National Park (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Stephanie Mack. R. Sinensky. William T. Reitze.

    Although preceramic archaeological sites containing evidence of maize farming were first identified at Petrified Forest National Park (PEFO) in the 1980s, archaeologists have conducted little research on preceramic Basketmaker sites at PEFO. Several radiocarbon dates on maize falling in the first millennium BC from preceramic habitation sites have shifted researchers perspectives on the preceramic occupation Petrified Forest. Recent archaeological survey on Petrified Forest National Park...

  • Three Seasons of Survey in the Painted Desert: An Update of the Petrified Forest Boundary Expansion Survey (2016)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only William Reitze. Amy Schott. Iva Lee Lehmkuhl.

    In 2004 Congress authorized Petrified Forest National Park to more than double in size, in part to protect unique cultural resources. This poster introduces the preliminary results of the third and final season of pedestrian survey in these new lands. So far this research has recorded archaeological sites dating from the Archaic through the Late Pueblo periods. Sites range from lithic landscapes covering hundreds of acres to multi-room masonry or adobe structures. Survey methodology has focused...

  • Tree-Ring Analysis at Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Emily Kvamme.

    Samples of ponderosa pine and juniper have been collected from various historic sites at the Petrified Forest National Park. Historic sites include several structures that were built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s, old fences and sign posts, as well as Navajo hogans. The CCC structures were constructed with ponderosa pine beams that were imported to the park from sources not too far from the Petrified Forest. From tree-ring analysis, climatic variations in the past can be...

  • Understanding Formation Processes of Archaeological Sites in Eolian Settings in the Petrified Forest National Park (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Amy Schott.

    Located on the southern edge of the Tusayan Dune Field in northeastern Arizona, the Petrified Forest National Park contains abundant archaeology sites located in dune settings. Past and recent archaeological survey has shown an apparent correlation between archaeological site locations and eroded dune blowouts. It is likely that sites are located in dune settings due to their favorable environmental setting; however, it is not clear if the apparent distribution of visible sites in relation to...

  • Understanding the Relationship Between Sample Size and Variation in Ceramic Relative Chronologies at the Petrified Forest National Park (2016)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Christina Stewart.

    Petrified Forest National Park contains an extensive prehistoric ceramic variability, exhibiting ceramics from multiple regions at later prehistoric sites. Like much of the Southwest, most of the research at the park is survey oriented, recording only a sample of ceramics on site. The high diversity of ceramics and small sample sizes has the potential to create a recording bias when using ceramics to relatively date sites. This project investigates the relationship between site diversity and...

  • When in the World? A Comparative Debitage Analysis of Single-component Sites through Time at Petrified Forest National Park (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Nicole Kulaga.

    Both Paleoindian and Archaic sites hold valuable information concerning some of the first people in North America, yet these sites remain to be some of the most difficult to identify. Without diagnostics like architecture and ceramics to turn to, projectile points are what are most commonly depended on when trying to date these locales. However, debitage makes up the bulk of the artifacts found on these sites and sites of later dates, and it is highly plausible that debitage characteristics will...