FARMINGTON — In the final episode of Time Team America's second season, archaeologists and scientists join forces with host Justine Shapiro to investigate the Dillard site at Crow Canyon Archaeological Center in Cortez, Colo.
The episode, which was filmed in 2012, will air on Tuesday following the another Time Team America episode about Camp Lawton, near Millen, Ga., where 10,000 Union prisoners were held toward the end of the Civil War. "Lost Civil War Prison" will start at 8 p.m. on PBS, followed by "The Lost Pueblo Village" at 9 p.m.
The Dillard Site, located in the Indian Camp Ranch area of Cortez, was first discovered while excavating the subdivision.
The Indian Camp Ranch subdivision is a unique neighborhood created in 1989 with the purpose of allowing landowners to live in an area rich in archaeology. It promotes responsible cultural stewardship and protection of the archaeological sites surrounding the homes.
Two years after the initial excavations of the subdivision, archaeologists from Cortez' Woods Canyon Archaeological Consultants began excavating a large depression at the site that they soon discovered was a kiva — a circular building thought to have been used for ceremonial purposes.
This kiva was what lured Time Team America to the Four Corners.
The discovery of Puebloan sites in the Cortez area is common, said Kelly McAndrews, an archaeologist with Woods Canyon.
Consultants will frequently examine sites in search of archaeological evidence prior to the construction of subdivisions.
"On survey, we usually look for surface artifacts," McAndrews said.
These artifacts could be pottery, tools or parts of a building.
The Dillard site dates back to the Basketmaker III time period prior to the construction of Mesa Verde's famous cliff dwellings. Archaeologists date Basketmaker III as between 500 and 750 A.D., according to the Crow Canyon Archaeological Center's website.
Vince MacMillan, an archaeologist at Anasazi Heritage Center in Dolores, Colo., said the Basketmaker III time-period of the Puebloan culture is challenging to excavate.
"They're fairly common, but they're often difficult to identify because they're often buried," he said.
That was true of the Dillard site, which is owned by Jane Dillard, who purchased the land in 1993.
Dillard moved to Cortez from Midland, Texas, after her husband died.
"It just seemed like a good time to get out of there," she said.
She liked the views from the Indian Camp Ranch subdivision in addition to the opportunity to own a piece of history.
The subdivision developer had surveyed the land prior to selling it.
"We all knew when we bought land here that we would have something," she said.
She knew about the Great Kiva, though she did not fully understand the implications of the site, she said.
"I think it turned out to be much more than even Crow Canyon imagined," she said.
The Time Team America visit in 2012 helped with the excavations, which began four years ago, by bringing in advanced technology.
The team used four types of remote sensing — magnetic gradient survey, conductivity, magnetic susceptibility and resistance survey. The technology helped the team map the site.
"The remote sensing showed that there were a lot more pit houses around the kiva than what anyone had originally realized," Dillard said.
The number of pit houses helped archaeologists identify the site as a Basketmaker III village.
When the excavations are finished, the site will be backfilled. Dillard said only a site marker will signal anything is there.
"There really is very little on the landscape to let you know anything is there at all," Dillard said.
She said a slight depression in the land was the only sign the kiva existed prior to the excavations.
Dillard has already viewed the PBS episode and is looking forward to watching it again on Tuesday.
"It may be simplistic in some ways," she said.
However she added that the episode is a good educational tool and shows "people how much can be done when there is little visible."