The Hearth Site

Overview Analysis
Archaeological site 41WR5/8 is an ancient campsite occupied multiple times over thousands of years. It is most notable for the discrete but numerous burned rock features that were likely used to cook meat, plants, and grasses such as amaranth, mesquite, buckwheat, and sunflower. Overlapping soil stains suggesting multiple burn events and reuse of rock in hearths suggest these earth ovens were recycled over time; therefore, 41WR5/8 was likely visited on a seasonal basis.

Previous research conducted in 2019 suggested that 41WR5/8 was occupied during the Late Archaic Period between AD 60 and 400. Radiocarbon dating of features excavated in 2021 indicates four periods of occupation spanning the Archaic through Formative periods: 2500-1800 BC, AD 60-200, AD 400-800, and AD 1180-1400.


Site occupants’ diets included a diverse array of plant and animal resources. Botanical remains, including pollen, suggest people were eating seeds, leaves, and roots from plants like grasses, amaranth, and goosefoot. Common faunal remains include rabbit, kangaroo rat, turtle, snake, frog, toad, and freshwater mussel.


Among artifacts discovered at 41WR5/8 are numerous food-processing tools such as manos and metates as well as projectile points and knives. Most of the stone tools appear expediently produced suggesting that people used them to process plant resources on site and did not take the tools with them.


Around 3,000 years ago, the environment resembled today’s, fluctuating between dry, arid conditions and cooler, wetter conditions. However, the presence of mussel shell and intense plant exploitation suggest that groups returned to 41WR5/8 repeatedly because water was more immediately available then now.