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A Late Precontact Pithouse Village Near Roswell

The discovery of the Fox Place site in Chaves County provided an opportunity to examine a Plains pithouse village occupied intensively between AD 1250 and 1325 and more sporadically until AD 1425.

Villagers built small, circular to oval pithouses dug from 12-20 inches into the ground. These were likely covered with mats, bark, and brush. A large, rectangular structure exhibiting a wall painting of a "horned" (or "plumed") serpent is thought to have been a religious building. One structure containing a dense concentration of large stones may have been used as a sweat lodge.

The inhabitants depended on hunting and gathering of wild plants supplemented by corn cultivation. Analysis of over 60,000 animal bones indicated that cottontail, fish, jackrabbit, pronghorn, and prairie dog were among the most dependable sources of meat, although deer and bison were also eaten.

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click to view artifacts

A dense concentration of burned rocks and metate fragments on the floor of this small pit structure suggests it may have been used as a sweat-lodge around AD 1415.

Reconstruction of a fragmentary Three Rivers Red-on-terracotta bowl, ca. AD 1150 - 1350, from the Fox Place site.