Big Juniper House of Mesa Verde, Colorado
Wetherill Mesa Studies
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Chapter 4
stone artifacts (continued)



Slabs were classified according to shape. The four types recognized are tabular, manolike, and roughly rounded slabs, and jar lids.

Tabular slabs. Thirty-two slabs are tabular and usually subrectangular in shape. Other shapes are trapezoidal (1), five-sided (1), and quadrilateral (1). Sixteen were interminate because of their fragmentary nature. All were of sandstone. Usually one face was ground, sometimes both, but rarely would neither face be ground. Sides were usually bifacially chipped, some were ground over the chipping.

Slabs of this type were probably used as door slabs, cist covers, cooking slabs, ventilator-tunnel doors in kivas, mealing-bin walls, and for other purposes. A probable door slab and a smaller slab that covered a cist in Kiva C are shown in figure 136a and b. Measurements are: length 12.0 to 60.4 cm.; width 8.1 to 42.0 cm.; thickness 0.6 to 3.0 cm.; and weight 0.7 to 10.9 kg.

Manolike slabs. Four sandstone slabs are manolike in thickness and shape but do not have the grinding surfaces or beveled ends of manos (fig. 136c). One or both faces are ground on the high spots, giving an uneven appearance to the faces. Only one slab is complete. Measurements are: length 12.0 to 24.0 cm.; width 12.2 to 13.4 cm and thickness 3.4 to 5.1 cm. The complete specimen weighs 2.3kg.

Roughly rounded slabs. Three fragmentary slabs were roughly rounded. They would seem to be too large to serve as jar lids and are not as well made (see below). Two of the specimens have one face ground and one face unmodified. The third slab has both faces unmodified. One fragment has the edge bifacially chipped and the other two have edges ground over spalling. All are made of sandstone. The most complete of the three specimens (fig. 136d) measures 26.1+ cm. long by 20.7 cm. wide by 2.8 cm. thick.

Jar lids. Three complete slabs and one fragment have been classified as jar lids because of their fine workmanship and generally discoidal shape (fig. 136e-g). One specimen is hexagonal. Usually both faces are ground flat and the edges are bifacially chipped with some grinding. Three of them are sandstone and one is mottled gray-black shale. Although I have termed them jar lids, actually none was found covering a jar, but similar slabs from other sites have been found in such associations. One of the jar lids (fig. 136g) may have covered the sipapu in Kiva C.

Fig. 136 Slabs: tabular, a, b; mano-like slab, c; roughly rounded, d; and jar lids, e-g. Lengths: a, 60.4 cm.; b, 22.5 cm.; d, 26.1 cm.; and f, 14.1 cm. (with e in same scale). (click on image for an enlargement in a new window)

One irregular slab, unworked in any way except for the initial spalling, was found covering a jar set in the floor of Room 6.

Tether Weight

A soft, gritty, maul-shaped sandstone object has a pecked groove around the middle (fig. 137). It was roughly shaped by spalling on most of the surface; it measured 12.5 by 10.1 by 7.8 cm., and weighed 1.1 kg. It may have been a weight for a turkey tether—enabling a turkey to walk about, but heavy enough to keep it from flying or running away.

Fig. 137 Tether weight.


There are 42 sandstone concretions in the collection (table 9)—33 of them were recovered from South Trash Mound and other parts of the site; 9 specimens were found in the 3 kivas.

Of varied natural form, usually unmodified, the concretions must have come from the exposed sandstone cliffs or talus slopes. Perhaps they were picked up because of their odd shapes, or possibly they served as fetishes. Thirty-three concretions had the following shapes: cylinders or constricted cones (10), balls (8), lobate forms (5), disks (3), flat "bars" (3), dish-shaped (1), and irregular (3) (figs. 138 and 139).

Fig. 138 Concretions. Length of a is 31.8 cm. (click on image for an enlargement in a new window)

Fig. 139 Concretion balls. Length of a is 8.1 cm. (click on image for an enlargement in a new window)

Of the nine concretions found in the kivas, three were mudded in the walls of the Kiva C firepit (fig. 140, right), one was next to the firepit in the Kiva B floor (fig. 141, left), one was on the Kiva A floor (fig. 141, right), and the rest were in fill close to the floors of Kivas A and B. Two are "bird" or "foot and ankle" shapes; the others are more or less irregular.

Fig. 140 Concretions—possible pot supports. Length of concretion at left is 13.9 cm.

Fig. 141 Concretions—bird shaped "pot supports." Length of concretion at left is 16.9 cm.

The term "pot supports" has been suggested to describe stones similar to these nine concretions, but there is little or no evidence to suggest such a function. All have been burned to varying degrees and therefore may have been used in firepits. However, they were found only in kivas and there were firepits in other areas of the site. They may have served as firedogs, supports for wood in the hearths. Two of these objects supported a large slab in a kiva in Mug House.


The fragment of a fossil mollusk, found in the South Trash Mound, appears to be unmodified.

Other Indeterminate Objects

The five objects of indeterminate use are illustrated and described individually.

Figure 142a. End fragment. Brownish-gray, coarse-grained igneous rock, probably from one of the exposed dikes in the park. One face ground flat, opposite face unmodified. Sides pecked, with possible finger-grip on one side. Width 16.4 cm. and thickness 6.6 cm. May be a broken handstone.

Figure 142b. Complete. Buff sandstone. Subtriangular in outline and subrectangular in sections. One face ground and pecked, opposite face spalled with some pecking on high spots. Narrower end and one side pecked, other end and side bifacially chipped and pecked. Measurements: 28.8 by 13.6 by 3.8 cm., and weight 2.1 kg.

Figure 142c. Complete. Reddish-brown sandstone. Suboval in outline. One face convex, ground and pecked (sharpened?); opposite face uneven, pecked on high spots. Sides pecked, ends are spalled and partly pecked. Measurements: 20.8 by 13.4 by 4.0 cm., and weight 1.9 kg. Possibly a mano, but it is definitely atypical in shape and workmanship.

Figure 142d. Complete (?). Petrified wood, yellow-buff in color. Subrectangular in outline and sections. Faces, sides, and one end have been ground fairly smooth and flat; other end possibly broken. Measurements: 5.0 by 3.3 by 1.2 cm., and weight 25 gm.

Figure 142e. Complete. Black, fine-grained chert or claystone. Subrectangular in outline and transverse section, and wedge-shaped in longitudinal section. Faces and one end ground and polished. "Bit" at other end partly flaked and partly ground and polished. Measurements: 6.1 by 3.1 by 1.3 cm., and weight 53 gm.

Fig. 142 Indeterminate objects. (click on image for an enlargement in a new window)

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Last Updated: 16-Jan-2007