The Archaeology of Sand Canyon Pueblo: Intensive Excavations at a Late-Thirteenth-Century Village in Southwestern Colorado

Intensive excavations at Sand Canyon Pueblo (Site 5MT765) were conducted by the Crow Canyon Archaeological Center, a not-for-profit research and education institution in southwestern Colorado. Crow Canyon archaeologists, with the assistance of thousands of lay participants enrolled in Crow Canyon education programs, excavated selected areas of the site from 1984 through 1989 and from 1991 through 1993. These investigations were part of a larger project—the Sand Canyon Archaeological Project—that included many and various field and analytic studies whose geographic focus was the Sand Canyon locality (Figure 1) (Lipe 1992*3:2), a 200-km2 study area in the McElmo drainage unit of the northern San Juan area (Eddy et al. 1984*1). The Sand Canyon Archaeological Project, which began in 1983 and ended in 1993, was a case study of Pueblo III (A.D. 1150–1300) settlement in what is now referred to as the central Mesa Verde region of southwestern Colorado (Figure 2). Goals of the Sand Canyon Archaeological Project included understanding Pueblo community organization in the locality, reconstructing the cultural and environmental conditions in the years leading up to the depopulation of the region in the late thirteenth century, and placing the Pueblo III occupation and depopulation of the locality in broader cultural and theoretical contexts (Lipe 1992*1; see also Chapter 2, this volume).