Four Corners Research-Archaeology in the Mesa Verde Region

Don Dove, my amazing and brilliant dad at the screen in 2007, 76 years young.
Click on pdf file above for report on the Structure 34 elaborated Kiva Closing and Animal Sacrifice

Structure 34, EU 34-g, Elaborated Kiva Closing - In the west half of this late 10th century kiva, at least 35 formally buried turkeys and turkey poults, 3 dogs, a cottontail rabbit and a beheaded rattlesnake were placed on the floor and surrounded by flat stones before being carefully covered with soil and wooden roof beams. The condition of the bones confirmed adequate protection of the bones was given...and worked for 1100 years.  With the exception of the headless rattlesnake, none of the animal skeletons showed signs of trauma or strangulation.  The construction of separate stone 'crypts' suggests these critters were revered and their bodies were treated respectfully despite the fact that they had been dispatched. 
Structure 36 at start of excavation on the north side of this proto- kiva. After several episodes of this structure burning, complete remodels including roof replacement and raising the floor were performed.  The final use was as a roasting pit where the remains of several very large deer and at least 10 deer mandibles were deposited into the upper fill.  Deer mandibles are thought to have had ritual value.
    In the spring of 2004, following a successful grant application from the Colorado Historical Fund, a program of the Colorado Historical Society, assessment work was initiated at the Champagne Spring (formerly Greenlee) Ruins. The study was designed to evaluate site significance from the perspectives of size, function and temporal placement. With the help of Eastern Illinois University and Southern Illinois University, a complete remote sensing study using four different methods was performed at both the North and South Ridge sites. These scans indicate that the Champagne Spring North Ridge village contains approximately 150 surface rooms and 30 kivas/proto-kivas including a great kiva and an over-sized pit structure. The South Ridge village consists of about 125 surface rooms and 25 kivas or proto-kivas, a prehistoric road and a shrine. The two villages are separated by a shallow drainage and are linked by a prehistoric road.
The North Ridge was occupied beginning at about A.D. 930 and abandoned at about 1000. By about 1050, it was re-occupied until about A.D. 1075 or 1100. The South Ridge village appears to be contemporaneous.                  

                                                        Continued below & left
July 2012 Field School looking south.  Top of Sleeping Ute Mountain is visible in background
Documentation Station during 2012 Field School at Champagne Spring.  This is where the excavators log in samples and artifacts, and provenience information is exchanged.
Paired bone needles were found above the burned roof of Kiva 1.  Abandoned around 1000 A.D., this structure incorporated an earthen bench with five postholes where pilasters are often found in later kivas.
Newcomb Black-on-white ladel found near paired bone needles and above the burned roof strata in Kiva 1.
The uppermost turkey burials in Structure 37. Buried within a stone mound built upon the floor in the south end of this early kiva. Both face east.
South end of Structure 37 looking west at Dog #1 and Turkey #3.  A stone 'monument' was built on the floor and over dozens of buried animals. It covered a dual sub-floor/floor level vent system.  An opening was built into the monument which extended down into the ash pit and sub floor vent.
Duck stone pendant from a rock lined roasting pit built into the mid fill of Structure 36. It contained numerous large sized deer bones and over 40 bone hide processing tools. Burned beans and corn cobs were numerous.
After a long day at the site, an informal get together at camp results in this photo of Tom's best smile.
Structure 34 west half after excavation. Floor features included a central vault, slab lined floor, and an earthen bench with posthole roof supports. Numerous sacrificed animals were surrounded by stones creating mini crypts. The roof was dismantled and rebuilt over them.
Harvey from the Southern Illinois University Geophysical Dept performing ground penetrating radar pass. Both the North and South Hill sites were completely surveyed by four different remote sensing methods which revealed a much larger village than we had expected to find.
Structure 37 at Champagne Spring.  The roof of this building was salvaged and then burned but not until several species of indigenous animals were sacrificed and buried in and under a stone monument cairn.
Field School participants working inside the great kiva at Champagne.
Harvey from Southern Illinois University is running passes with the Cesium Gradiometer.  This instrument provided the most accurate results for detecting subterranean features and structures.
Squaw Canyon is a major drainage located just below Champagne Ruins.
This 'Bluffmans' Black-on-red ladel fragment was recovered from the roasting pit that was constructed within the abandoned Structure 36.
Structure 46 after excavation of the western half.  Numerous features related to ritual observances were documented including paired floor pits which may be the remains of altars.  Over 40 projectile points were found in its fill.
Steven D from Eastern Illinois University is setting up the total station in preparation for mapping the North and South Hill sites at Champagne Spring Ruins.
Click on an image above to enlarge.
1 hour YouTube video presentation on Champagne Spring Ruins
2013 excavations in SS-Room 1 - An early version of this room may have been used for jewelry work.  Twenty four small pieces of Azurite/ Malachite were found between the use-compacted final floor and an earlier more formal floor.  The masonry bin was part of the earlier building. A stone lined hearth was made for the later room.
​Structure 37 - This early kiva was abandoned near the end of the tenth-century and was ceremonially closed through a massive animal sacrifice ritual and structure burning. After the sacrifice and burials were made, the animals were covered by stones and layers of soil.  Shown here is the excavation in the south end of the kiva at 50 cm above the floor. A stone and soil cone-shaped monument or shrine was built to house many of the burials.  After the kiva was abandoned and after several years had passed, the remainder of the structure was filled with soil and what remained of the roof was burned.
After animal burials removed from a portion of Kiva 37.  Bottom of stone cone monument/shrine that contained over 50 buried birds and dogs and included turkeys, turkey poults, and an American Crow. This stone feature was centered over the top of a subfloor ventilator. An above floor ventilator was also constructed and appears to have been in use simultaneously with the below floor vent. Dates to around A.D. 975-1000.
Special Room SS Rm 1, may have been a jewelry manufacturing facility.  Seen here are azurite pieces from this structure. This room and at least one or two others appear to be associated with the great kiva.
American Antiquity    January 2016   On the Cover : 
Detail of turkey burial in Structure 37, Champagne Spring site (photo by David Dove), From "Cultural and Genetic Contexts for Early Turkey Domestication in the Northern Southwest," by William D. Lipe, R. Kyle Bocinsky, Brian Chisholm, Robin Lyle, David M. Dove, R.G. Matson, Elizabeth Jarvis, Kathleen Judd, and Brian Kemp, page 103
South Ridge village. Note prehistoric road and shrine (labeled public bldg above). Road leads to the North Ridge great kiva and beyond that 1/2 mile, Champagne Spring. The South Ridge was constructed in a very different layout than the North Ridge village with approximately ten unit pueblos tightly aggregated. 
Map of the North Ridge Village and plan view sketches ot the subterranean plaza-structures that were partially excavated
Room 1 of Pueblo H - South Ridge unit pueblo during excavation. Note full-height double-wythe wall construction that was added during a major remodel/reoccupation in the early A.D. 1000s. Room 1 appears to have been a special-use room. Large pits with pure ash were present in each of the four floors of this building. 
Shrine along prehistoric road on South Ridge at Champagne Spring. Axis of this structure runs parallel to adjacent road that leads to the great kiva at the North Ridge village. Note unusual shape and triple-wythe construction that stood about a meter and a half tall.
South Ridge shrine along prehistoric road leading to the great kiva at the North Ridge village 
Topographical Mapping, Geophysical Studies, and Archaeological Testing​ of an Early Pueblo II Village Near Dove Creek CO was published in 2006 and details the assessment of the site. You can access this report by clicking on the link to the upper left side of this page.
    Most of the west end of the North Ridge village was laid-out as a large linear group of rooms that bracket a large plaza containing a great kiva and seven early kivas and 'proto-kivas'. Several unit pueblos are arrayed to the west of the linear pueblo. 
    The South Ridge village was arranged differently. Across the west side of the village a prehistoric road runs to the northeast and joins the North Ridge by the west side of the great kiva. If the road continued to the northeast it would meet Champagne Spring. Approximately ten tightly packed unit pueblos are arrayed along the South Ridge to the east of the prehistoric road. On the west side of the road in the middle of the South Ridge is an unusual road-side shrine.
    Multiple Animal Offerings in an Early Kiva was published in 2012 and described two unusual ritualized kiva decommissionings that included the sacrifice of more than 100 animals; mostly turkeys but dogs, a cottontail, a beheaded rattlesnake, and an American Crow were included. After decommissioning, at least two of the plaza subterranean structures were used as roasting pits where large-scale feasts were prepared and served.
    In 2016, Cultural and Genetic Contexts for Early Turkey Domestication in the Northern Southwest was published and included the mitochondrial DNA of seven of the turkeys that were part of the Structure 34 animal sacrifice. Robin Lyle has authored two excellent technical reports on these events and they can be accessed via
Drs. Jim Graceffa, Linda Guarino, and Mary Gallagher (Crew Leaders) and other unnamed good friends who are also very experienced avocational archaeologists, working in House H Room 1 and surrounding rooms (August 2019).
After a long day, an impromptu jam session with DD and accompanying guitar and fiddle.