Archeological Investigations at Puerco Ruin, Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona

Author(s): Jeffery F. Burton

Year: 1990


During 1988 and 1989, archeologists from the Western Archeological and

Conservation Center conducted data recovery excavations at Puerco Ruin, Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona. Puerco Ruin is the remains of a 100-plus-room pueblo dating to the late Pueblo III to middle Pueblo IV periods. The data recovery, conducted to mitigate the effects of proposed visitor facilities at the site, included surface collection, excavation, and analysis. In addition, over 1,000 rock art elements surrounding the pueblo were recorded by volunteers from the American Rock Art Research Association.

Surface collection of sixteen 10 by 10 m units north of the pueblo helped

identify extramural activity areas for various stages of lithic production.

Eight non-room subsurface features and eight main soil strata were identified during the excavation of ninety-two 1 by 1 m excavation units. In addition, four surface rooms and portions of a kiva were also excavated. Over 4,000 sherds (including 16 partially reconstructible vessels) and over 26,000 flaked stone artifacts, as well as ground stone and other artifacts and abundant floral and faunal remains, were recovered. Analyses included obsidian sourcing and hydration, ceramic refiring and temper identification, and radiocarbon dating. Data from three previous excavations were incorporated in the present analysis wherever possible. Chronometric data indicate a short occupation, from around A.D. 1250 to 1380. Although artifacts recovered indicate ties to the Hopi, Homol'ovi, Flagstaff, Zuni, and Gallup areas, the pueblo's location near petrified wood sources does not appear to have engendered large-scale lithic manufacturing for trade. Some evidence suggests that the focus of trade may have shifted from west to east during the occupation, but most items were made from locally-available raw material.

Dating of the site and regional environmental data suggest the pueblo was

founded during a period of drought conditions. In the early part of the

occupation, there was a heavy reliance on domestic crops, most likely grown in the Puerco River floodplain; later, more wild plants appear to have been used. A wide variety and high percentage of non-traditional food animals, such as carnivores, also appear to have been consumed, possibly indicating environmental stress.

Cite this Record

Archeological Investigations at Puerco Ruin, Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona. Jeffery F. Burton. Publications in Anthropology ,54. Tucson, Arizona: Western Archeological and Conservation Center. 1990 ( tDAR id: 4292) ; doi:10.6067/XCV8445JKS

This Resource is Part of the Following Collections

Temporal Coverage

Calendar Date: 1250 to 1380

Spatial Coverage

min long: -109.814; min lat: 35.017 ; max long: -109.771; max lat: 35.047 ;

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