The Project <slide 2 photo, window and tilted lintel>
This project was conducted by the 2002 Geosciences 597J
Dendroarchaeology class of the LTRR, UA, with much assistance from the
Farmington District Bureau of Land Management (BLM).
<slide 1 photo, front view of homestead with backpack>
Ronald H. Towner, LTRR, UA
Eric David Peters, University of Illinois-Chicago
Beth Bagwell, University of New Mexico
James Smith, Eastern New Mexico University
Tom Windes, National Park Service
Ivan Ghezzi, Yale University
S. Colby Phillips, University of New Mexico
Project Goals <slide 3 photo, students with fence, orange string in foreground>
The project was designed to use the intensive 3-week course to:
The location of Martinez homestead in the southern section of Largo Canyon.
Train students and professionals in tree-ring sample collection, analysis, and interpretation and
Provide detailed chronological, behavioral, and environmental information about the Martinez Homestead occupation
The area is dominated by a dendritic drainage pattern and all the surface water flows north toward the San Juan River.
1/4 Section Pueblito was also studied by the class.
<slide 7 image, map of project area>
Steeply incised canyons cut through various sandstone and limestone formations.
Clays and shales erode from the hillsides.
Elevation varies from approximately 1750-2250 m with higher elevations in the south.
Rainfall averages 8-10 inches a year.
Mostly as winter snows and summer monsoon rains.
<slide 8 photo, homestead in foreground of butte edge>
Sagebrush, rabbitbrush, and various grasses dominate the alluvial floodplain.
<slide 9 photo, floodplain>
Mixed juniper and pinyon forest comprises the forest overstory on the hillslopes and mesa tops.
<slide 10 photo, plain>
Ponderosa pine and Douglas fir grow in high elevation areas and more mesic environments, such as north-facing alcoves.
<slide 11 photo, pine trees>
The Martinez Homestead <slide 12 photo, distant shot of homestead and butte>
<slide 13 image, site map>
The Martinez Homestead was initially recorded by the BLM in 1984 and updated by DCA in 2001.
The site map shows four Features: the House, the Corral,
a check dam, and a small sandstone wall.
Additional features were noted during this project.
An ethnographic interview was conducted in 2001.
<slide 15 image, martinez homestead floor plan>
The main house consists of four
rooms. Rooms 1 and 2 have standing masonry walls, Room 3 has a standing
jacal wall and a boulder that served as the east wall, and Room 4
contains only small wall segments and the outline of it’s original
Room 1 contains four large room
primary beams and window and door lintels; none of the other rooms have
intact roofs, but all contain some wooden elements.
A bond-abut architectural analysis
indicates that Rooms 1, 2, and 4 were built at the same time, but that
Room 3 was built earlier than the others.
<slide 16 photo, Jeff Dean sampling in room 1> note the multiple window lintels
<slide 17 photo, south doorway>
The south doorway in Room 1 (note the white limestone rocks on the roof and multiple door lintels).
The view is from inside Room 4.
The milled lumber door frame was not sampled because the outside rings have been removed.
Room 1 Data Table
Interpreting Room 1
Room 2 Data Table
The Dates: The 11 dates samples from Room 1 suggest two
different building events. Because all of the roof primary beams
yielded noncutting dates, it is only the door lintels and horizontal
intramural beams that provide construction information. Apparently, the
room was built in the spring of 1922—as evidenced by the 1921v comp and
1922v inc dates from the south and west door lintels. These dates fit
well with those from Rooms 2 and 3. Some type of repair or remodeling
was conducted in the spring of 1928 as indicated by the 1927v comp date
from the south wall and the 1928vv date from the east wall intramural.
These later dates fit with a single 1928 noncutting date from the
The Wood Species: There is a distinct preference for
Douglas-fir primary beams, probably because of their size. The other
elements—window and door lintels—are mostly ponderosa, pinyon, and
juniper. This is interesting because Douglas-fir and ponderosas grow
only in a few select areas today. Assuming there has been minimal
vegetation change, the site occupants must have exerted substantial
effort to procure the Douglas-fir primary beams.
<slide 21 photo, jacal wall and spring alcove>
Room 3 Data Table
Interpreting Room 3
<slide 24 image, Martinez Homestead Corral>
The Dates: The six 1908 cutting or near cutting dates
clearly indicate construction of the jacal wall in Room 3 in that year;
the two 1907+B timbers were probably harvested at the same time. The
terminal rings of the 1908 samples—complete Douglas-fir, pinyon, and
juniper samples, and two incomplete juniper samples—indicate that the
wall was built in the fall of 1908 after the end of the Douglas-fir and
Pinyon growing seasons, but before the end of the juniper growing
season. The 1922vv date from sample MMH-14 indicates that the masonry
wall on the south side of Room 3 was added later, probably as a
replacement for a previous jacal wall.
The Wood Species: Juniper was clearly the species
preferred for the jacal wall, although Pinyon and Douglas-fir were also
used. Juniper was probably acceptable because the wall beams did not
need to be long or large, and it was easy to procure.
<slide 25 photo, corral fence>
Looking south at the corral. The large Douglas fir beams in the foreground may have been placed to control erosion.
Corral Data Table 1 & 2
Interpreting the Corral
<slide 29 photo, lambing pens>
The Dates: Nineteen of the 34 corral samples dated. A
near cutting date in 1908+GB fits with the dates from Room 3 for
inferring the initial construction of the corral. The latest date from
the corral suggests use after the 1920 Douglas-fir growing season
(possibly spring 1921). There are no later, i.e. 1928, dates, but the
corral was probably in use until at least that time.
The Wood Species: In contrast to the lambing pens, juniper
is the most common species in the corral; Douglas-fir, pinyon,
ponderosa, a spruce/fir, and even oak are present as well. The species
distribution may be skewed by our sampling strategy, but juniper was
clearly the most used species, probably because of its immediate
<slide 30 image, map of lambing pens>
Lambing Pen Data Table
Interpreting the Lambing Pens
<slide 33 photo, trough>
The Dates: The 12 dated samples from the lambing pens
indicate initial use in the early 1900s, probably at the same time Room
3 was constructed. They also indicate use of the pens in the 1920s,
with the latest date at 1928vv. Interestingly, none of the dates fall
in the 1910s.
The Wood Species:
The species used in the lambing pens include Douglas-fir (n=7), pinyon (n=4),
Juniper (n=1), and ponderosa (n=1); only the juniper
sample did not date. The paucity of juniper suggests it was avoided in
the pens, but the reason remains unknown.
A ditch carried water from a spring near the corral across an arroyo in
this trough towards the house (note the deposition above the trough).
<slide 34 photo, notches>
Ax-cut notches indicate a support beam that has since washed away.
Significance of the Trough
<slide 35, Ron sampling trough> Note height of the current bank above the trough.
Species Distribution & Wood Use Table
Although the fir sample from the
trough (MMH-77) did not date, the trough yields other important
information. Extensive deposition has buried the canal and trough by as
much as 30 cm of sediment. Was this significant erosion and deposition
in the small rincon caused by the sheep and humans denuding the
landscape around the homestead? Is that also why the large Douglas-fir
beams were laid uphill from the corral (to prevent dirt from washing
into the structure)?
Interpreting Wood Use at the Site
Species Preferences: Six different tree species were
used at the site: Douglas-fir, Ponderosa pine, Pinyon pine, Juniper,
Oak, and an unidentified spruce/fir. Douglas-fir and Ponderosa are the
dominant species used in the masonry rooms, probably because of their
size. Juniper is the dominant species used in the corral and jacal
wall, probably because those structures did not require long, straight
beams. The lambing pens are dominated by Douglas-fir and Pinyon;
ethnographic information may help determine if these species are
preferred for this type of structure and why. All of the species are
locally available, except perhaps the spruce/fir. The Douglas-fir and
Ponderosa grow in north-facing alcoves across the valley; the Pinyon
and juniper grow on the mesa top above the site; and the oak (probably
Gamble’s Oak) may have grown near a seep in a nearby alcove.
Tool Marks: The majority of the beams were harvested and
modified using a metal ax. There are a few sawn beam ends and the
milled lumber must have been purchased, but most of the harvesting,
notching, debarking, and delimbing was done with a metal ax.
Deadwood Use: Deadwood, possibly indicated by the ++
symbol, may have been used in the lambing pens, the corral, and as a
lintel in Room 1.
The Chronology of the Martinez Homestead
A total of 87 tree-ring samples
was collected from the site, 58 of which yielded dates; 17 of the dates
are cutting or near cutting dates. The earliest near cutting date is
1907+LB and the latest date is 1928vv.
The earliest construction at the
site was the jacal wall in Room 3 in the fall of 1908; indeed all of
Room 3 was probably built at that time. There is some evidence that
portions of the corral were built at the same time.
There is some evidence that the corral was used during the late 1910s and early 1920s, but possibly not later.
Rooms 1, 2, and 4 were apparently
constructed as unit in 1921-1922. The beams for Room 2 were cut in the
spring of 1921, but the south door lintel in Room 1 and south door jamb
in Room 3 indicate that construction was not completed until the
Repairs to the west wall of Room 1
were performed in the spring of 1928; the lambing pens were also in use
until sometime after the spring of 1928.
Determining when the site was
abandoned is difficult, but it may have been abandoned by the early
1930s and onset of the Great Depression.
As part of the site re-recording
in 2001, the Division of Conservation Archaeology conducted an
interview with Mike Martinez, grandson of Margarita Martinez.
He indicated that:
The house was built around 1908 with the help of friends and relatives and occupied until the 1940s.
Room 1was a living room, Room 2 was a bedroom, and Room 3 was the kitchen. No information about Room 4 is available.
The inhabitants raised livestock and dry-farmed corn, beans, peas, and pumpkins.
We sincerely appreciate the assistance of the following individuals and institutions:
James M. Copeland of the Farmington District Bureau of Land Management
Thomas W. Swetnam and the Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research at the University of Arizona
Richard L. Warren, Laboratory of Tree-ring Research, university of Arizona
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