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Significance of the Investigations at 5MT2

By Richard H. Wilshusen

The investigations at 5MT2 exposed two small hamlets that were successively occupied in the period of AD 1160-1280. The research utility of these hamlets may be in their very ordinariness and simplicity. The research at 5MT2 complements the work Joe Ben Wheat did at 5MT1 and 5MT3 in that the occupation at 5MT2 overlaps in time with these other two sites, but it offers a much less complicated archaeological record. Whereas the other two sites have relatively complex histories, the record of the two components at 5MT2 appears to be much simpler. Yet the two occupations at 5MT2 clearly overlap those at the other two sites. For example, the late Pueblo III component at 5MT2 is very similar to the main occupation in the Porter area of 5MT1, with both hamlets having small roomblocks of 12 to 14 structures. These occupations also are coincident with the Pueblo III component at 5MT3. So, 5MT2 will offer excellent comparative material and records for any research at the other two Yellow Jacket sites.

The significance of the collections from 5MT2 for Yellow Jacket research also has to do with the very nature of the research done at that site. It was excavated relatively late in the Yellow Jacket project's history, and so there is a greater percentage of the excavation sample that was screened than is the case at 5MT1 or 3. This may allow for better comparability with other more recent excavations in the region. The research was focused on exposing contemporaneous household occupations, so the collections are fairly easy to use.

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Major Research Questions

There are numerous possible research questions that might be addressed with this collection. We have focused on three research domains in this report: site history, community change, and household organization.

We have proposed two basic occupation sequences at 5MT2. This is a simpler interpretation of the site's occupation history than Cater (1989Cater, John D.
1989 Chronological Understanding of Site 5MT2, Yellow Jacket, Colorado, and a Study of Abandonment Modes. Unpublished MA thesis, Department of Anthropology, University of Colorado, Boulder.
) offered, and it is a research issue that could fairly easily tested using the site collections. Chronological placement is key in understanding the relationship between the small hamlets such as 5MT2 and the immense villages such as Yellow Jacket Pueblo (5MT5) during the final Pueblo III occupation of the Mesa Verde region. A complete and well-documented analysis of the 5MT2 collections would provide a splendid research platform from which to investigate the collections from the other two Yellow Jacket sites.

Varien's (2002Varien, Mark D.
2002 Persistent Communities and Mobile Households: Population Movement in the Central Mesa Verde Region, A.D. 950 to 1290. In Seeking the Center Place: Archaeology and Ancient Communities in the Mesa Verde Region, edited by M. D. Varien and R. H. Wilshusen, pp. 163-184. University of Utah Press, Salt Lake City.
) analysis of the large Pueblo II and Pueblo III community centers, such as 5MT5, suggests that changes in this regional social landscape in the period of AD 1050-1290 should result in greater competition between and within community centers. A small hamlet such as 5MT2 may provide an excellent gauge of changes in integration and competition within the Yellow Jacket community. How does a small hamlet such as 5MT2 fare when located only 500 m from largest village in the Mesa Verde region?

Because most of the structures at 5MT2 were excavated, it also should be possible to address questions about the household organization at this small hamlet. For example, how does household organization compare between a site with a single kiva (5MT2) and a site with multiple kivas (5MT1), even though the number of surface rooms at the sites is roughly the same? How does the household economy of a small hamlet compare with that of a large village?

Finally, how does the abandonment of 5MT2 in the late thirteenth century enhance our understanding of the larger migration of ancestral Pueblo people from this region at almost the same time? What are the household, community, or site history elements of this migration story?

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