The Excavation and Repair of Betatakin
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Metate (pl. 31, 1).—The only milling stone brought away was last used for pulverizing yellow ocher; a rubbed area on its under side is smeared with red paint. Of fine-grained sandstone, the specimen has a grinding surface transversely plane but longitudinally concave, being worn in the middle to a depth of five-eighths of an inch.

To judge wholly from want of contrary statements in my field notes, the characteristic Betatakin metate is relatively thin, rather carefully shaped by pecking with hammerstones, and rarely, if ever, deeply troughed.

Manos, or mullers (pl. 31, 2-5) are the hand stones with which maize and other foodstuffs were ground on metates. Among the 30 manos (312207-27) in our collection, certain dissimilarities of shape and size are obvious. This variation is owing to the structure of the sandstone, volcanic breccia; and vesicular quartzite from which all are made and; perhaps in equal degree; to personal differences in method of use. Eight of the 30 appear to be reworked and reused mano fragments; they vary in length from 4-3/4 to 6-3/4 inches (0.120 to 0.171 m.). The remaining 22 average 4-1/4 inches (0.107 m.) in width by 10-1/4 inches (0.260 m.) in length. Six of these are provided with shallow finger grips on the longer sides, while three only, and four of the shorter ones, show wear on both sides. Four of the series, all long mullers, are slightly wedge-shaped in cross section; three, including a reworked fragment, exhibit a convexity due to wear on a narrow, shallowly troughed milling stone. On the flat-faced metates of Betatakin, flat-faced manos naturally were employed.

Rubbing stones, supposedly for smoothing newly surfaced floors, walls, etc., bear a close relationship to the manos and might well have substituted for them upon occasion. Our three specimens of this type (pl. 32, 7-9) are all of sandstone, somewhat oval, carefully shaped at the periphery, rubbed on both faces. Water-worn cobbles frequently were carried long distances by Pueblo peoples living in a region of sand and sandstone. From Betatakin we brought two such cobbles (312231), both of which show slight use as smoothers. One is of quartzite; the other, diorite.

Six small pebbles (312232), worn smooth by stream action, were used to polish the thin clay slip with which earthen vessels were surfaced. Such pebbles were the handy tools of Pueblo potters in middle and late prehistoric times.

Two still smaller pebbles of white flint (312310) are flattened on one or more sides. Similar specimens have been found heretofore in a medicine man's outfit.

Hammerstones.—Any hard, tough stone served as a hammer. Of the three in our series (312233), two are quartzite cobbles polished by blown sand before human use; the third and largest (pl. 32, 6) is of chert.

Mauls.—Our two mauls are each provided with an encircling groove for attachment of the customary withe handle. The larger, of heavy sandstone, is flattish and irregular, but evidences considerable work with the pecking hammer. (Pl. 32, 4.) In marked contrast, the second is merely an elongate basalt cobble (312240), grooved about the middle and probably used but once or twice.

A much smaller and more globular specimen (312241), of vesicular quartzite,15 while maullike in shape may have been intended as a weapon. There can be little doubt, however, that the one shown in Plate 32, 5, was designed as a club head, for it was carefully pecked then smoothed with a sandstone rasp. Its pointed ends, slightly battered on other rocks, illustrate the readiness with which almost any Pueblo implement was pressed into service for which it was not primarily intended.

15A seemingly porous material containing variecolored stone pellets and described by the late Dr. George P. Merrill. head curator, Department of Geology, U. S. National Museum, as "a very interesting and peculiar type of quartzite."

Stone axes (pl. 32, 1-3).—The four recovered, all of diorite, are relatively crude, like most axes from ruins throughout the San Juan drainage. The smallest of those illustrated has a secondary groove just below the principal one.

Celt.—The well-known celt or tcamahia of the San Juan Basin is represented by a single, fragmentary specimen of reddish argillaceous chert (312243). Its handle is mostly missing, but on the remaining portion a perceptible difference in coloration indicates the former presence of a covering or wrapping. The blade had been broken, rechipped, and the sharp edges slightly rubbed.

Chipped implements.—Of the six flint points at hand (312312), two are arrowheads. The smaller of these, triangular in shape, is three-quarters of an inch long; the other, notched and slightly barbed, measures 1-3/4 inches. The other four specimens may be regarded as knives. Their bases are square or nearly so, and to two of them some adhesive, probably pitch, still cleaves. The largest of the lot, its tip missing, measures 1 by 2-1/2 inches (0.025 by 0.063 m.); its sides and edges have been slightly smoothed by rubbing. The wooden knife handle illustrated by Figure 5 was collected at Betatakin by Professor Cummings in 1909 and added to the national collections through exchange with the University of Utah.


A small fragment of a red jasper flake (312313) had been chipped along each side, for use in cutting or scraping.

Stone pellet.—A rounded stone ball (312309), five eighths of an inch in diameter and blackened by fire, served an unknown purpose.

Effigy.—No one may say what animal is represented by the little stone effigy shown in Figure 6. Its front legs, mere knobs at best, have been broken and subsequently rounded.


Turquoise.—The fragment of a small, semilunate bead, V-drilled on the flatter side, is the only piece of turquoise collected (312311).

Pendant.—The only undoubted ornament we recovered is a thin disk of red clay stone (312304), drilled at one edge for suspension and in the middle for diversion.

Lignite ornament (fig. 7).—Through a ridge across the middle back, two V-drillings provided means of attachment. On one edge are four vertical and parallel incised lines. The material is lignitized wood, highly resinous.


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Last Updated: 26-Jun-2008