The Archaeology of 5MT1
By Mark D. Mitchell
Site 5MT1 is one of three sites comprising the Joe Ben Wheat Site Complex (5MT16722), which was listed to the National Register of Historic Places in 2004 (Lekson 2004Lekson, Stephen H.
2004 National Register of Historic Places Registration Form for Joe Ben Wheat Site Complex (5MT16722). Site listed on the National Register on January 16, 2004. Form on file at Colorado Historical Society, Denver.). Fifty years prior, Joe Ben Wheat was the newly installed curator of anthropology at the University of Colorado Museum when he first visited 5MT1. Over the course of eight field seasons he conducted extensive excavations that dramatically expanded what was known about the archaeology of the Mesa Verde region.
5MT1 consists of two spatially discrete clusters of artifacts and features. The western half of the site, known as the Stevenson area or Stevenson site, consists of a single-component late Basketmaker III hamlet. The eastern half, known as the Porter area or Porter Pueblo, consists of three or perhaps four superimposed late Pueblo II to late Pueblo III hamlets. The Basketmaker III component was occupied between A.D. 675 and A.D. 700, while the Pueblo II and Pueblo III components were occupied between A.D. 1060 and A.D. 1280. Additional information about the occupational histories of the Stevenson area and the Porter area can be found in the chronological sections of this report.
In the Stevenson area, Wheat investigated four habitation structures; 28 small work and storage rooms; a large ramada; seven burials; and two small extramural features over the course of four field seasons. At the time, relatively little was known about the Basketmaker III occupation of the Mesa Verde region, and Wheat's large-scale excavations helped to characterize the period. A detailed presentation of Wheat's results can be found in this report's section on the architecture of the Stevenson area.
Wheat's excavations in the Porter area revealed five kivas; a 12-room masonry pueblo; ten semi-subterranean work and storage rooms; 15 large storage pits; 17 burials, including one interment containing four individuals whose remains exhibit perimortem damage; and a very large number of small pit features and post alignments. Like his work in the Stevenson area, Wheat's pioneering investigation in the Porter area exposed a suite of previously-unknown architectural features and altered the prevailing view of Pueblo II archaeology in the Mesa Verde region. The architectural features of the Porter area are described in three sections of this report. The earliest features, which Wheat described as the "pitroom village," are discussed in the section on late Pueblo II architecture. The most recent features are described in the section on Pueblo III architecture, while the remaining structures and features are described in the section on intermediate component architecture.
The inhabitants of 5MT1 belonged to a larger community that is represented by contemporaneous occupations at other nearby sites. During late Basketmaker III times, a small hamlet of four pitstructures and two clusters of surface rooms could also be found at 5MT3, another element of the Joe Ben Wheat Site Complex located just 250 meters to the east. During Pueblo II and Pueblo III times, the Porter area was one of three small hamlets clustered on the crest of a low rise overlooking Yellow Jacket Canyon. Located less than 25 meters north of the Porter area, 5MT2, the third element of the Joe Ben Wheat Site Complex, consists of two small roomblocks occupied sequentially between A.D. 1160 and A.D. 1280. A second small, unnamed roomblock, which was probably occupied between A.D. 1140 and A.D. 1225, is located 50 meters east of the Porter area. Together, these three sites may have functioned as a local community, joined by bonds of kinship and cooperating in the tasks of daily living.
In turn, the social and economic affairs of this small community were dominated by Yellow Jacket Pueblo (5MT5), the largest site in the Mesa Verde region, and located just 500 meters northeast of the Joe Ben Wheat Site Complex. Additional information on the social and natural setting of 5MT1 can be found in the background section of this report.
History of Research
A detailed history of Joe Ben Wheat's research in the Yellow Jacket area is presented in this website's summary of his career. Wheat began working at 5MT1 in 1954. He spent all or parts of eight field seasons there, concluding his efforts in 1966. During that time he trained more than a dozen students and made a major contribution to what was then known about the Basketmaker III, Pueblo II and Pueblo III periods in the Mesa Verde region.
A wide range of sources have been used in the preparation of this report, and are available for future research projects. Lists of the field documentation related to the excavation of the Stevenson area and the Porter area can be found in this report's overview sections. Published and unpublished documents describing the results of the field investigations and subsequent analyses are listed in Table 1, below.
|Wheat n.d.a||Interpretive summary of Stevenson area excavations, 1954 to 1957|
|Wheat n.d.b||Interpretive summary of Porter area excavations, 1957 to 1959|
|Wheat 1955a||Summary of 1954 and 1955 work in the Stevenson area|
|Ellwood 1978||M.A. thesis on ceramic artifacts from 5MT1 and 5MT3|
|Mobley-Tanaka 2005||Ph.D. dissertation on ceramic manufacture and distribution in Yellow Jacket area|
|Yunker 2001||M.A. thesis on human remains from the JBWSC|
|Karhu 2000||Analysis of human remains from 5MT1 and 5MT3||Lekson 2004||National Register nomination for the JBWSC|
|Chapters and Journal Articles|
|Anderson 1997||Analysis of burial practices at 5MT1 and 5MT3|
|Ellison 1997||Analysis of projectile points from 5MT1 and 5MT3|
|Ellwood and Parker 1993||Analysis of ceramic effigy bottle from the Porter area|
|Malville 1989||Analysis of perimortem damage on human bones from 5MT1|
|Mobley-Tanaka 1997a||Interpretation of PII mealing rooms|
|Mobley-Tanaka 1997b||Introduction to the archaeology of the Yellow Jacket area|
|Wheat 1981||Summary of CU Museum work in the Yellow Jacket area|
|Zier 1978||Analysis of projectile points from MT1|
|Lange and others 1988||Summary of CU Museum work in the Yellow Jacket area|
This Report and Wheat's Interpretations
The occupational histories and architectural associations presented in this report agree in large measure with those offered by Wheat (n.d.a.Wheat, Joe Ben
n.d.a. The Architecture of the Stevenson Site. Ms. on file, University of Colorado Museum, Boulder., n.d.b.Wheat, Joe Ben
n.d.b. The Architecture of Porter Pueblo. Ms. on file, University of Colorado Museum, Boulder., 1955aWheat, Joe Ben
1955a MT 1, A Basketmaker III Site Near Yellow Jacket, Colorado (A Progress Report). Southwestern Lore 21(2):18 26., 1981Wheat, Joe Ben
1981 Yellow Jacket Canyon Archaeology. In Insights into the Ancient Ones, edited by J.H. Berger and E.F. Berger, pp. 60-66. Mesa Verde Press, Cortez, Colorado.). However, there are a number of important differences. For the Porter area, the architectural and chronological reconstruction described in this report is based on Wheat's draft report and on the results of excavations carried out in 1966, after that draft was prepared. The 1966 field work clarified the relationships among many of the sites structures and occupational surfaces, and revealed a number of previously unknown features. Refinements in the region's ceramic chronology (Ortman 2003Ortman, Scott G.
2003 Artifacts. In The Archaeology of Yellow Jacket Pueblo (Site 5MT5): Excavations at a Large Community Center in Southwestern Colorado [HTML Title]. Available: http://www.crowcanyon.org/yellowjacket. Date of use: December 17, 2004.) and additional work carried out within and adjacent to the Yellow Jacket locality (e.g., Billman and Robinson 2003Billman, Brian R. and Christine K. Robinson
2003 The Puebloan Occupation of the Ute Mountain Peidmont [sic], Vol. 3: Late Pueblo II to Early Pueblo III and Late Pueblo III Habitation Sites. Soil Systems Publications in Archaeology No. 22, Vol. 3. Phoenix, Arizona.; Kuckelman 1988aKuckelman, Kristin A.
1988a Excavations at Shallow House (Site 5MT8822), a Late Basketmaker III Habitation. In Archaeological Investigations on South Canal, compiled by K.A. Kuckelman and J.N. Morris, pp. 24 45. Four Corners Archaeological Project Report 11. Complete Archaeological Service Associates, Cortez, Colorado., 1988bKuckelman, Kristin A.
1988b Excavations at Dos Bobos Hamlet (Site 5MT8837), a Late Basketmaker III Habitation. In Archaeological Investigations on South Canal, compiled by K.A. Kuckelman and J.N. Morris, pp. 231 297. Four Corners Archaeological Project Report 11. Complete Archaeological Service Associates, Cortez, Colorado., 1988cKuckelman, Kristin A.
1988c Excavations at Dobbins Stockade (Site 5MT8827), a Pueblo II Habitation. In Archaeological Investigations on South Canal, compiled by K.A. Kuckelman and J.N. Morris, pp. 373-403. Four Corners Archaeological Project Report 11. Complete Archaeological Service Associates, Cortez, Colorado., 2003aKuckelman, Kristin A. (editor)
2003a The Archaeology of Yellow Jacket Pueblo (Site 5MT5): Excavations at a Large Community Center in Southwestern Colorado [HTML Title]. Available: http://www.crowcanyon.org/yellowjacket. Date of use: January 20, 2005.; Morris 1991Morris, James N.
1991 Archaeological Excavations on the Hovenweep Laterals. Four Corners Archaeological Project Report 16. Complete Archaeological Service Associates, Cortez, Colorado.; Robinson 2002Robinson, Christine K.
2002 The Puebloan Occupation of the Ute Mountain Piedmont, Vol. 2: Single Component Basketmaker III and Middle Pueblo II Habitation Sites. Soil Systems Publications in Archaeology No. 22, vol. 2. Phoenix, Arizona.) provide a context for interpreting the archaeology of 5MT1 that was unavailable to Wheat. Finally, a total of ten previously unpublished tree-ring dates are available for the Stevenson and the Porter areas.