LA 143525 and LA 143526
Cebolla Hogans and Fence

The Cebolla Hogan Site had three features which were sampled:  a forked-pole hogan in a steep arroyo, a small forked-pole hogan on the ridge above the larger hogan, and a fence.

LA 143525, the Big Hogan, is located in a very steep and narrow ephemeral drainage overlooking Cibola Creek. It was selected for sampling by the BLM because the initial site recording suggested it was a Navajo structure. Future management decisions, there fore, required additional chronometric data.

LA 143526, the Small Hogan, is located on the edge of a short bench overlooking Cibola Creek. The site was sampled simply because we recognized it as a probable Navajo structure, of which there are few in the area.

local environment photo and link

Big Hogan

big hogan 2
photo by R. Towner

LA 143525, known as the Big Hogan, is located in a very steep and narrow north-trending drainage approximately 50m northeast of LA 143526. The site location is very “hidden” and no artifacts were seen in the area. The structure consists of 20+ timbers of various sizes leaning into and scattered around a large juniper tree.
Site Map

big hogan site map
map by R. Towner

big hogan 1
photo by R. Towner

big hogan 3
photo by R. Towner

big hogan 4
photo by R. Towner

The Big Hogan (LA 143525)

A total of 13 samples was collected from LA 143525, all as ½” cores. Samples were collected from the cabin using standard dendroarchaeological techniquesThe samples include six junipers and seven pinyons, which mirrors the local environmental distribution. It may be important, however, that all six juniper samples are Juniperus scopulorum; other juniper species grow in the area, but were not selected for construction—probably because the builders preferred the relatively long, straight boles of J. scopulorum.

Seven of the samples yielded dates, including five pinyons and two junipers. The samples that failed to date typically exhibited erratic ring sequences that do not match the master chronology. The dates range from 1797vv to 1915vv, but none are cutting or near cutting dates; all the samples have suffered exterior ring loss. Two samples (CEB-108, CEB-111), date 1914vv and 1915vv, respectively; using Ahlstrom’s (1985) principles, indicate that the structure was built in the mid-to-late 1910s. CEB-110, the south door jamb dates 1887++vv and was probably procured as dead wood.

We infer that the hogan was built in the 1915-1920 interval and was occupied for a very short time. Indeed, the lack of artifacts suggests the site may never have served as a habitation. If the site is Navajo—and we know of no other groups that build hogans—it raises interesting questions about which Navajos were using the area in the 1910s and why. More detailed studies, including Navajo oral history research, could help address these questions.

Small Hogan

small hogan 1
photo by R. Towner

LA 143526, known as the Small Hogan, is located in the pinyon-juniper forest on a ridgetop overlooking Cibola Creek. Although two areas of slightly ashy soil were noted south and east of the structure, no artifacts of any kind were observed. The structure itself has collapsed and consists of 15+ juniper beams arranged in a semi-circular pattern typical of forked-pole hogans in other areas.

small hogan 2
photo by R. Towner

Site Map

small hogan site map
map by R. Towner
A total of four samples was collected from the Small Hogan, all as ½” coresSamples were collected from the cabin using standard dendroarchaeological techniques. All of the samples are juniper, as are all the other identifiable timbers on the site, but none dated. The weathered, twisted nature of the beams suggest that all were procured as dead wood. It may be significant that none of the timbers exhibit tool marks of any kind; thus, the site could even date to prehistoric times, but we consider that unlikely. Perhaps cross sections from the beams would yield dates, but we did not believe such intrusive impacts to the resource were warranted during this project.

sampling the small hogan
photo by M. Reiser


fence 1
photo by R. Towner

The “fence” was observed during our hike to the hogan sites. It was not documented during previous surveys in the area and was not formally recorded during this project. The structure consists of living and dead trees and branches, some of which were cut with a metal ax. Our impression — without mapping — is that the structure is somewhat ovoid or circular and that it may have been an animal enclosure of some kind.

A single sample was collected from the long-and-brush fence. It was a pinyon cross section sawn from a metal ax-cut branch. Unfortunately, it could not be crossdated due to erratic ring patterns. The fence contains dozens of additional timbers that would undoubtedly yield tree-ring dates. A detailed recording, mapping, and sampling effort, however, is needed to determine when and why the structure was built. 

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