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ASM Occasional Electronic Papers No. 1: Homol'ovi IV

Chapter Four:
Research Design and Methodology

E. Charles Adams

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The research at Homol'ovi IV was guided by the typical concerns of space and time, but also origins and migration, village organization and growth, and relationship to other Homol'ovi villages. These concerns will be addressed separately below.

Space and Time

Since the time of Colton (Colton 1956; Colton and Hargrave 1937), archaeologists believed that Homol'ovi IV was occupied only during the early, or Tuwiuca Phase, occupation of the area, or about 1250-1300. Surface evidence of pottery collected by HRP from the village prior to its excavation revealed no Jeddito Yellow Ware with yellow hues, confirming Colton and subsequent (Hantman 1982) evaluations of these general dates. HRP work at Homol'ovi III (Adams 2001) had suggested that the pottery at Homol'ovi IV looked even slightly earlier with few polychromes and dominated by black-on-orange types. This raised the possibility that Homol'ovi IV was earlier than Homol'ovi III and possibly the earliest of the Homol'ovi villages. Determining the relative date of its founding became a priority. If Homol'ovi IV was the earliest village, HRP was curious as to whether or not it predated other villages or its occupation overlapped with Homol'ovi III and others.

Related to its occupation was determining the spatial extent of the village and its related features, including pit structures, or kivas, and plazas. Just how large was Homol'ovi IV? Estimates had ranged from less than 100 rooms to 250 rooms by HRP alone. Therefore, in addition to systematic excavations, a complete wall-tracing project was planned for Homol'ovi IV. Not only was the wall tracing beneficial to estimating village size, it was also expected to inform on village growth through tracing abutment and bonding relationships.

Village Organization and Growth

A natural product of the investigation of time and space at Homol'ovi IV is village growth and organization. Just how large was Homol'ovi IV at the beginning, how did it grow during its occupation, and how large was it at abandonment? Also, what can we learn about social, political, and religious organization at Homol'ovi IV. Investigations at other Homol'ovi villages have revealed the existence of spinal room blocks, which are sets of rooms constructed at the same time and presumably by a work group composed of related individuals (Adams 2001, 2002; LaMotta 2003). If spinal room blocks represent social units at other Homol'ovi villages, how are they manifest at Homol'ovi IV? Is village growth at Homol'ovi IV punctuated or continuous? Does it represent small social groups the size of the family or larger social groups the size of multiple families or lineages? How was village growth "managed" by village leaders? How were the various social groups integrated to allow village cohesion and cooperation in tasks such as constructing irrigation ditches?

As noted above, an important component of the fieldwork at Homol'ovi IV was tracing as many walls as possible and noting abutment and bonding relationships. This process enabled HRP to determine the nature and pace of village growth during the occupation of Homol'ovi IV. Additionally, the mapping project allowed HRP to determine room size, the location of open or public spaces, and the location and number of kivas and other possible ritual structures. These are important architectural components of village organization.

Origins and Migration

Because Homol'ovi IV was considered one of the first, if not the first, village occupied in the Homol'ovi settlement cluster, HRP viewed research there as an opportunity to understand the source of the village population. Survey and excavation of pre-Homol'ovi villages (Adams 1996; Lange 1998; Young 1996) had determined that for all intents and purposes, the landscape where the Homol'ovi villages were established in the later half of the 1200s was devoid of human settlements. This ensured that Homol'ovi IV was settled by immigrants. What was the source or sources of these immigrants?

To address the possible sources of Homol'-ovi IV population, the expectation was that architecture and pottery would be the best indicators. The organization of space is a strong cultural expression and differs in regions believed to be most likely sources of immigrants who established Homol'ovi IV (Hillier and Hanson 1984). Numerous ceramic analyses can be used to assess the location of manufacture of pottery found at Homol'ovi IV, including paste and temper analysis and neutron activation analysis (Colton and Hargrave 1937; Lyons 2003). Complementary to chemical and paste analyses are studies of vessel form and design (Lyons 2003, Rice 1987; Shepard 1955). These analyses are complementary and if all point to a single source area are powerful indicators of the source of immigrant populations.

Related to origins is abandonment of Homol'ovi IV. What were the causes and where did the population move? Did it leave the vicinity, move into another existing Homol'ovi village, or did the occupants establish another later Homol'-ovi village? Numerous lines of evidence can be brought to bear on studying abandonment and emigration. At Homol'ovi IV we looked at how rooms were abandoned. The presence and nature of floor assemblages indicate whether or not abandonment was systematic and organized or hasty (Schiffer 1977). The nature of the assemblage also indicates whether the move is short or long distance. If Homol'ovi IV occupants moved a short distance to another village or another location that evolved into another village, the expectation is that most material culture will be removed and taken to the new location. If the move is long distance or rapid, the expectation is that more material will be left behind due to the limited ability to transport large or heavy objects. Items, such as pottery, flaked and ground stone could generally be easily replicated at new homes and would be left behind.

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