PAGOSA SPRINGS - When the elite ancient residents of Chimney Rock craved a haunch of venison or an elk loin, it appears they did what the privileged class of today does: They counted on caterers.
New research by a University of Colorado archaeological team at the Chimney Rock Archaeological Area near Pagosa Springs suggests that the rabbit- and turkey-eating commoners living below the dramatic sandstone mesa brought the best provisions to those who dwelled on the top.
"Obviously the term 'cater' is somewhat tongue-in-cheek," said CU professor Steve Lekson, who directed the latest excavation. "But it (Chimney Rock) is the trophy house on the hill."
The university team spent five weeks this summer digging at the Chimney Rock Great House, which was inhabited between A.D. 1075 and 1130. The team had access to two rooms for the first research dig allowed by the U.S. Forest Service at Chimney Rock since the 1970s. It is in those rooms that they found the remnants of meals to support their theory.
Under the rock floors, where the builders would have discarded their trash as they were constructing the rooms, archaeologists found the bones of small animals. Above the floor, they found the bones of larger mammals - either the elk or deer that are plentiful in that area. They found no tools to indicate the food was prepared in those rooms.
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