With National Science Foundation support, Stephen H. Lekson of the University of Colorado Museum of Natural History will direct the excavation and analysis of deposits at the Pinnacle Ruin site, a probable Mesa Verde migration community in southern New Mexico. The U.S. Southwest has much to offer migration studies: fine-grained chronological and environmental information, excellent site distribution data, and Native peoples whose traditional histories center on "migration stories." The 13th century migrations present a classic case: tens of thousands of people left the Mesa Verde and Tusayan-Kayenta regions of the "Four Corners" between AD 1250 and 1300. Archaeological manifestations of this migration range from classic "site unit intrusions" in southeastern Arizona to less certain cases in the northern Rio Grande, where the magnitude and even reality of in-migration are matters of debate. Falling between, both in location and in clarity, is the Magdalena phase (AD 1300 to 1450) of southern New Mexico. Pinnacle Ruin is a Magdalena phase 200-room pueblo near the town of Truth-or-Consequences, NM. It sits atop a sheer-sided, presumably defensive butte. The main decorated pottery type at Pinnacle Ruin (and other Magdalena phase towns) appears to be a late form of Mesa Verde Black-on-white, and masonry at Pinnacle Ruin more closely resembles that of the Four Corners region than local traditions of southern New Mexico. It seems likely that several hundred Mesa Verde migrants founded the Magdalena phase sites. Pinnacle Ruin shares a small, isolated segment of the Rio Alamosa valley with the Victorio site, a 500-room Tularosa phase (AD 1175 to 1300) community. Pinnacle Ruin and the Victorio site are less than 1.25 km apart. Past work indicated that the two sites were sequential, but recent 14C dates suggest that the initial occupation of Pinnacle Ruin was as early as AD 1250, contemporary with the final occupation of the Victorio site. Understanding the chronological relationship of the Victorio site and Pinnacle Ruin is crucial to understanding the social context of Magdalena phase migrations. Did Pinnacle replace or displace Victorio? Did Pinnacle move into Victorio's valley, perhaps explaining its defensive setting? Did Victorio site population adopt new pottery and architecture, and become Pinnacle? These and other scenarios cannot be evaluated without better chronological control. Excavations at Pinnacle Ruin will obtain a larger artifact sample and additional datable materials from its earliest levels; and 14C dates will be obtained from existing collections from the Victorio site. To situate Pinnacle Ruin in the larger body of migration theory, the proposed research will compare the Magdalena phase with 13th and 14th century migrations in southeastern Arizona and the northern Rio Grande. Specific data is required for the Magdalena phase: an accurate map of the very large Gallinas Spring site; clarification of the initial settlement at Pinnacle Ruin; precise dating of Pinnacle Ruin and the earlier and perhaps partially contemporary near-by Victorio site; and ceramic studies of Magdalena Black-on-white, Galisteo Black-on-white (a comparable type in the northern Rio Grande), and McElmo and Mesa Verde black-on-white types. The intellectual merits of the Pinnacle Ruins Project include (1) contributions to the prehistory of Canada Alamosa, a frontier between northern Pueblo ("Anasazi") and southern Pueblo ("Mogollon") regions; (2) evaluation of the Magdalena phase: a major, but curiously overlooked candidate case for 14th century long-distance migration; and (3) contributions to archaeological methodology for the study of migration, with implications for migration theory. The broader impacts of the Pinnacle Ruin Project include (1) training graduate students in the geography and archaeology of the ancient Southwest; (2) collaboration with several local non-academic, non-profit institutions; (3) promotion of historic preservation in the Rio Alamosa community; (4) consultation and information sharing with Pueblo groups; (5) contribution and collaborations with two other on-going research programs in the area; and (6) development of methodologies to explore the interplay of scientific archaeology and humanistic history.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Behavioral and Cognitive Sciences (BCS)
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John E. Yellen
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University of Colorado at Boulder
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