CHACOAN REGIONAL ROADS

Recently this website was modified into two parts. For the benefit of those archaeologists interested in Chacoan regional roads and my 2021 SAA summary of our mapping activities, the following sections provide most of the data that have been collected.

For people interested in specific sites photographs and ideas, please skip this section and proceed to the rest of the site.

A couple of papers have been published in KIVA and are downloaded in their specific sections. They cover work around the Standing Rock great house and mapping of the Kin Hochoi East Road from Arizona/New Mexico border to the San Juan Basin.

PART ONE – REGIONAL CHACOAN ROADS

The materials (maps, photographs, field notes) provided below include data collected over 15 years and define our present understanding of regional roads across the southern part of the San Juan Basin. We now have identified four new regional roads. These roads along with the South Road and the Coyote Canyon Road presently make up the road network in the southern part of the basin as presently understood.

We consider all regional roads as hypothetical and continue to test these models by surveying in new areas where projection suggest the road should occur and be defined by aligned sites and linear sherd scatters. The road from Standing Rock to Kin Bineola passes west of the Kin Bineola great house and continues into the northern part of the basin. We hope to map it as it continues northeast, crosses Chaco Wash and passes near the Pierre’s sites.

The map below shows roads mapped by others and our mapped roads (in green). The next map shows the areas we have surveyed. This is a lot to take in because these are huge areas. But, be assured thousands of hours of ground inspection supported by aerial photographic and satellite imagery analysis and a lot of conversations with various archaeologists including: Fred Niles, John Rooney, John Stein and Gretchen Obenoff went into these results.

REGIONAL CHACOAN ROAD MODELS

SURVEY AREAS

New Surveys of the Kin Hochoi East Road have been added including southwest of Peach Springs and northeast of Tohlakia and select areas in between. Surveys along the East-West Road include several points in Arizona.

PART TWO – METHODOLOGY

OUR INTENTION IN THE SAN JUAN BASIN IS TO COVER LARGE AREAS TO DETERMINE IF THERE IS A PATTERN IN THE DISTRIBUTION OF SITES.

Using the northeastern end of the Standing Rock to Kin Bineola road as an example the following figures will take you through our initial methods.

Here is a topographic base of the area. All maps are oriented with north at the top of the page. This is a composite of the Milk Lake and La Vida Mission 7 ½ quadrangles. We mapped the western half of this area because a survey had already been completed by the National Park Service (NPS) of Sections 5 and 8 south of the great house and along the drainage.

The results of the NPS survey produced 125 locations and reports on each location which were loaded to the New Mexico Cultural Resource Information System – NMCRIS. NMCRIS provides a map with dots and when you cursor a dot the report can be read. A shown below the NPS site distribution seems random. We read every report and found one fact that changed our understanding of these data and changed our approach to mapping.

NATIONAL PARK SERVICE SURVEY RESULTS (NMCRIS)

These are the sites in which reports provide some description of the presence of sherds. Most other sites are described as rock piles, cairns or hearths with no sherds reported. As such most sites can not be identified as Chacoan in origin and may be from more recent activity. The sites below are those reported by the NPS to include sherd scatters.

SITES REPORTED WITH SHERD SCATTERS

There is at least one pattern here. Sites reported to have associated sherd scatters are located on topographic highs along the drainage. However, there is no alignment of sites to suggest they are located on a regional road.

Based on these data we decided to map only sites with sherds. Our notes are filled with other sites, because we are always trying to find ways to distinguish unusual geologic features from actual artifacts. But, rock piles and other features without associated sherds are not included on our maps.

AREA SPECIFIC APPROACH

We started with mapping along roads. In some cases we could see geologic features that seemed out of place. In that way we immediately found two room blocks. Next, we conducted large survey loops. Each of these is actually two survey transits because there were always two of us in the field.

ROAD AND LOOP SURVEYS

Initally, we marked the actual track of each survey in our notes and on base maps. But, we found that we would often conduct smaller loops away from the main route to investigate possible sites. A sample of our early field map showing main route with each being two parallel surveys and numerous side loops.

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Here are the results two miles south of the great house. Later in our surveys we discovered that there were linear sherd scatters along the road routes, so we went back to this area and found three linear sherd scatters.

The sites on the map above are not very big. In addition they are typically low lying and covered in part by brush. In some cases you have to walk directly over them to find them. So, any little indication that a site might be nearby results in a very detailed examination including transects only a few feet apart.

Some indicators = one sherd, one flat piece of stone, a change in topography, a change in vegetation, an unusual rock outcrop

HERE IS A SMALL SITE ON FLAT GROUND WITH LITTLE VEGETATION

HERE IS A SMALL MOUND SITE.

THESE ARE NOT SITES

Finding these small sites is the point of our surveys. We take a block of terrain typically about 1/2 square mile. And, we follow the described steps. In these areas no great houses have been reported. It is just an unstudied area.

As the sites are found we try to determine if there is a pattern to the distribution of the sites. Typically, there is a linear alignment. With a hypothetical alignment in mind we go back along the projection of the alignment. Many, many times there is nothing and it is back to mapping empty terrain.

But, sometimes one of our team members searches a spot that they are convinced might hide a site and then finds one. Following confirmation of an alignment with numerous sites we start mapping transits perpendicular to the hypothetical alignment. In this way we test our linear projection and often find small patches of sherds that after detailed inspection turn out to be linear sherd scatters between already mapped sites.

SITE 5 MILES SOUTHWEST OF KIN BINEOLA AND WORKING HYPOTHESIS OF THE SOUTHWEST ROAD TO STANDING ROCK (GREEN LINE).

EXAMPLES OF DETAILED TRANSITS ACROSS KNOWN SITES (Mapped sites in black and transits in green)

PART 3 – DISCOVERED ROADS

The following maps provide data on the road originally called the “Kin Bineola /Standing Rock Road” . This road now is known to extend much farther than between these two great house areas. Data for this is also shown below. Mapping in the 2021 season will focus on the road as it extends to the northeast.

Mapped sites and sherd scatters from Kin Bineola southwest to Indian Creek (Mapped areas in Yellow)

Site and sherd scatter alignments extending North East from Standing Rock and Dalton Pass toward Indian Creek

The following are mapped sections of the La Vida and Milk Lake Quadrangles from northeast to southwest. The format is the same as maps produced in: Chacoan Roads in the Southern Periphery: Results of Phase II of the BLM Chaco Roads Project, 1987. Numbered sites coincide with field notes collected t the time of discovery.

Southeast La Vida Quadrangle

Northeast Milk Lake Quadrangle

Milk Lake Quadrangle Continued

Southwest Milk Lake Quadrangle Continued

From Broken Crown a distinct rocky ridge, the mapping crosses the southeast corner of the Red Lake Well Quadrangle.

Southeast Corner of Red Lake Well Quadrangle

Maps crossing the Standing Rock Quadrangle provide for depicting data on this part of the road. The road does not connect to the great house but instead passes through the rocky pillar.

The northeast part of the Standing Rock Quadrangle has not been surveyed. However, at least one site was discovered during vehicle surveys. In the area around Standing Rock extensive and repeated ground surveys have been conducted.

Northeast Corner of the Standing Rock Quadrangle

Central part of the Standing Rock Quadrangle

SOMETHING STRANGE