Tale of a Test Pit: The research history of a midden column from the Turkey Pen site, Utah
Matson, R. G.
Lipe, William D.
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Presented at the Society for American Archaeology Annual Meeting. In 1972 R.G. Matson and a small crew excavated a dry, stratified midden at a Pueblo Cliff Dwelling site in Grand Gulch, as part of the Cedar Mesa Project. Materials from the column (excavated and kept intact) and the matrix surrounding it (bagged separately by layer) are curated at Washington State University’s Museum of Anthropology and have been used in numerous projects on topics ranging from turkey husbandry, to paleonutrition, to maize genetics, to early tattoo practices. The wealth of information derived from the contents of this 50 x 50 x 170cm column, analyzed using a variety of traditional and advanced techniques, has helped to shape the way we view preceramic agricultural populations of the northern Southwest. Here we will detail the history of research at Turkey Pen Ruin focusing on studies utilizing this test pit, buoyed by the encouragement to research and openly share research related to Cedar Mesa, emphasizing the scientific potential of well-maintained organic deposits as museum collections, and culminating in the definition of a new Basketmaker II variant resulting from study of this collection nearly five decades following its original excavation.