5MT135 Sunny Alcove

Ancestral Pueblo cliff dwelling with isolated tower (approximately 200 m southwest of the alcove) and remnants of a farm field (ca. 20 m southeast of the site). The site faces south and is located in an overhang on the first terrace above McElmo Creek on the west side of Sand Canyon and is near the head of a small northwest-trending spur canyon draining into Sand Canyon. The elevation of the site is 1792 m (5880 ft) asl. The style of architecture (McElmo style) and typology of collected pottery, which includes a significant number of Mesa Verde black-on-white, McElmo black on-white, and Mancos black-on-white sherds and especially few tree-ring dates available for the site: 1203 A.D. and 1271 A.D. (three dates collected by the project team and Thomac C. Windes and Cory D. Breternitz) all suggest that the alcove was inhabited during the Late Pueblo III period (ca. 1225-1280 A.D.) and as the multiple habitation site. The site consisted of ten to fourteen rooms and one kiva (Kiva A) and most of the rooms are in the eastern and central part of the alcove and the kiva is in the western part of it. A large area south and southwest of the alcove on the steep talus slope is covered by rubble and also was contained probably a midden. The nearest water sources were probably intermittent or ephemeral springs approximately 20-40 m south and southwest of the site (several bedrock basins or

seeps are present in the intermittent drainage); a large pour-off basin is about 40-45 m northwest of the site.Sand Canyon-Castle Rock Community Archaeological Project investigations in the site (in 2011, 2014 and 2016) included preparing the map of the site using electronic tachymeter as well as 3D laser scanning and thoroughly drawing documentation of all architecture (in the scale 1:20) visible on the modern ground surface. It also included geophysical research (mainly electrical resistivity) on the slope below the alcove (it revealed additional structures only fragmentary visible on the surface) and the farming plot with the retaining wall located southeast of the alcove. Drawing of walls and preparing the map of the tower (Site 5MT13446) southeast of the alcove was also conducted in the first season of the project works in 2011.

© Sand Canyon–Castle Rock Community Archaeological Project, 2021