The Griddle Site

Overview Analysis
Archaeological site 41WR123 is an ancient campsite near the banks of a Pecos River tributary that was repeatedly occupied over thousands of years. Shallow, basin-shaped hearths with fire-cracked rock suggest that campfires were used once or minimally reused. Site 41WR123 is notable for the recovery of tabular-shaped sandstone, sometimes with surface charring and residue indicative of use as griddles to cook meat and parch grass seed. Complete and fragmented manos and metates also demonstrate that plants or seeds were processed at the site.

Previous research conducted in 2019 suggested that 41WR123 was occupied during the Archaic and Formative periods. Radiocarbon dating of features excavated in 2021 demonstrates that most dates fall between 750 BC and AD 1295 with one hearth used between the 17th and 20th centuries.


Charcoal analysis demonstrated that mesquite was a preferred wood source for campfires while pollen and starch analysis identified medicinal plants such as four-o-clocks or sundrops. Residue analysis of griddle fragments identified fats, proteins, and grass starch while common faunal or animal-related remains included birds, rabbits, squirrels, snakes, canine, and bison.


Sources of stone were readily available near 41WR123 and numerous cores attest to tools being made onsite. Among artifacts discovered at 41WR123 are projectile points and knives used for hunting, skinning, and processing animals for food. Sandstone abraders or polishers were used to refine tool edges or shape materials such as shell into beads.


Paleoenvironmental research suggests an overall trend towards warm and dry conditions that supported open grasslands with a variety of animals and plants whose remains were recovered from 41WR123. During the Middle to Late Archaic, an increase in moisture expanded grasslands, likely attracting bison from the east. A dry interval at the end of the Late Archaic would have increased reliance on desert succulents before a return to moister conditions after 1240 AD that again encouraged grassland expansion and bison hunting. 

Voices from the Field

SEARCH archaeologist Rob Ingraham describes what he found in the field and provides a preliminary interpretation of 41WR123.