Three spokeshaves from this site are illustrated below. These show minimal modification and use, suggesting they were expedient
and used on a limited basis. Spokeshaves were used to smooth arrow shafts.
This is a large tipi ring site that has been encroached by development and, according to a local rancher, is periodically
inundated (every 30-40 years) when the river floods to 6 or 8 feet deep. Situated on the bank of North Seven Rivers
Arroyo 40-plus tipi rings. A surface collection in and around the tipis revealed more artifacts than expected, given the
site's discovery decades ago and because it is so widely known locally. Work continues to define thermal features and
outdoor work areas and to characterize the tipis more effectively.
All of the artifacts at the site consist of flaked stone, with the exception of one piece of expedient groundstone. One sherd
and no projectile points have been found. Most of the flaked stone is debitage; less than 20 percent of the assemblage is
represented by tools. These include 4 spokeshaves, 11 scrapers, and only a few cores and hammerstones. Most of the flaked
stone is made of the local limestone, found on and near the site. Poor quality gray chert makes up less than 5 percent of the
assemblage while an occasional nicer piece of chert was found including high quality gray chert and reddish chert.
Obviously there is a possibility that these nicer specimens came from the Edwards Plateau and Alibates quarry, although
specimens from the Little Box Canyon Tipi Site looked similar to these and did not fluoresce under blacklight. This suggests
either that there is a more local (or different distant) source of nice chert of these colors or that these specimens are from
the east but simply do not fluoresce, just as some specimens directly from Alibates do not fluoresce.
LA 27687--The Seven Rivers Tipi Ring Site
ARTIFACTS FROM THE SITE
TIPI RING VARIATIONS
One thing that became immediately apparent during the mapping of the Seven Rivers site was that most of the structures were paired.
This is visible spatially in that two tipi rings are generally positioned much closer to one another than the next closest. It is not uncommon
for the basic household unit to consist of more than one structure. We see this among the Sobaipuri-O'odham, during certain phases of the
Hohokam, and in many other cultural settings.
Often when more than one structure is used they are functionally differentiated. One is large and well made while the second is smaller
and less substantial. Yet, even when functionally differentiated structures were used by the majority it is not always the case that each
household used structures in a consistent way. So there may be variation between households in the activities that were conducted in
each structure or in the number of structures built.
Moreover, in many portions of the Southwest, where weather is quite favorable for a portion of the year, many activities occurred
outdoors. Consequently, many of the artifacts and work areas important to the household will be present in the extramural areas, as they
seem to be at Seven Rivers. These outdoor work areas may be positioned in or near the entryway or they may be placed around the sides
of the house where either the tipi would have shielded the work space from the sun or wind or workers could have had access to the sun
during colder weather. When in the entry one must question whether they are washing out of the interior of the room, but it is equally
likely that people sat in or near to door way so as to be shielded from the elements but where they could make use of the sunlight.
Variations are apparent in the tipi rings themselves that may have functional, seasonal, and cultural relevance or they may be
signficant with respect to discerning differences in identity between Apache groups. The use of a single outline of stones versus
multiple may relate to rock size availability, season, size of superstucture, or amount of wind. The presence of an entryway and the
type of entryway--as a break in the rocks or a vestibule--is likely significant. The occurrence of interior features, such as platforms,
rocks in the central area, and partitions likely indicates use areas in the tipi. Size and shape differences also seem relevant.
THE MATERIAL ON THIS PAGE IS COPYRIGHTED AND SHOULD BE APPROPRIATELY CITED (C) 2007-2008, Deni Seymour
This map, prepared in GIS by Martin Stein of the Carlsbad BLM, was based on field GPS points taken in the field of each feature.
Three scrapers are shown here, including a
side view of the first one. All are made on
unifacially retouched flakes or on small
unmidifed pebbles. Edge angles vary from
steep to extremely steep suggesting variation
in the tasks undertaken, or more likely that
various stages of hide working are represented
in the assemblage. If residue analysis is
conducted we may be able to discern what
these implements were used for. All but one
were found just outside houses.
These scrapers differ from many found in the
mountainous areas to the west in that these
specimens shown here seem to have been
hand-held rather than hafted. Most scrapers to
the west, even many of the small ones, were
hafted as indicated by retouch on the margins
that both indented and dulled the edge so that
the sinew could be wrapped around the tool
and haft to hold it in place. These represent a
subset of the scraper assemblage from the site;
there are eleven in all.
The setting for this site was likely selected because of relevant terrain features. A local rancher said that a spring used to
surface in the nearby channel adjacent to the site. Moreover, the location is flat--as is appropriate for tipi ring locations--and
hidden from the wind and the view of intruders. Situated on the flat adjacent to the river it is below the elevation of the
bench bordering the south side of the river.
Entryways are usually indicated by a break in the rock circle, athough some have more than one break making definition of
the entryway difficult. In those cases where the entryway is definate they usually face to the southeast.
Some structures have large rocks in the approximate center of the ring. These may be trivits or fire stones, but when tested
none produced evidence of burning, ash, or charcoal. This is not surprising given the surficial nature of these features; it is
possible that all evidence of a fire has since blown away. There does not seem to be evidence of formal hearths or fire pits
inside or outside the tipis, suggesting a non-winter occupation.
Other than these stones, which sometimes occur in twos or threes, there are few intramural features. One tipi seems to have
a platform at one end and another may have a partition wall.
Occasionally a small rock circle will occur outside in loose association with a tipi ring, suggesting that these may have been
firepits or container rests. Tests in these features did not reveal evidence of burning. Large naturally occur boulders are often
located near tipis, suggesting that these were somehow incorporated into the household space--perhaps used for sitting.
Most artifacts a situated around structures, within a couple of meters of the walls. Many are also found within the structures.
Often one structure will have artifacts while the second will not, suggesting perhaps a functional difference, which seems
apparent also by differences in size and number of rocks used between the pair of structures.
It was noted that most structures seem to be paired. Some are obviously so, while others are a bit more distant from one
another but still closer than the next closest pair. It is posible that all are paired but some tipi rings are partially buried
suggesting that there may be more that are not visible from the surface. Those along the south side of the site are mostly
buried and this is where waters from the arroyo would most likely overflow the banks and deposit sediment or disassemble
The site seems to have continued further east at one time but power poles and an old well pad location have taken out this
area. The reasons this is believed to be the case is because rings go right up to the edge of the disturbance, two rings are in
the undisturbed portion of the the powerline right-of-way, and a very nice yellow-and-black banded chert flake was found in
the disturbed area.
more to follow...
Some rocks partially buried
while others on the surface
Odd-shaped tipi ring with many artifacts.
In the three images above it is possible to see possible hearth rocks, but these could also simply be rocks kicked in from the side.
The two flags show how close
some of the paired structures
are to one another.
These two images show two of the three isolated small rock
rings that are found in extramural areas near structures.
Rock alignments outside the house may
indicate a covered entryway or where flaps
on the side of the tent sheltered occupants
from the wind. These are common at the
Macho Draw Tipi Ring Site.
Some rings are barely visible, being mostly
covered with sediment and flush with the
surface. This may have resulted from river
overflow that depositied sediment.
Importantly, such variations may also suggest
time depth between occupations.
These are either partial rings or rocks on one side have been buried. Variability in
rock sizes is expected when structures are made using whatever is available on the
site. Rock sizes might vary to depending upon wind speed. The placement of rocks
around the circumference is also dependent upon wind direction. If there were more
than one occupation some of the rocks may be missing because they were robbed for
use in other structures.
Some structures are fully ringed with rocks, sometimes in double or tripple
rows whereas others use a single row and the rocks are not as closely space.
In some instances rocks do not form a complete circle, which ethnographic
data suggest relates to wind direction and strength.
Some rings are barely visible until right
on them because rocks surrounding the
structure are not abundant or large and
they are buried.
Some rings seem partial, with rocks
prominently visible on one side and
less so or absent on the other.
A single brownware sherd was found near Ring 1. Pictured here it is possible to see the feldspar and quartz
inclusions. The surfaces are eroded so it is not possible to assign cultural or temporal affiliation but the
unevenness of the vessel walls (e.g., sherd thickness) suggests that this could be a late plainware, perhaps
affilaited with the Apache. Fine striations or wiping marks on the interior surface also suggtest this affiliation.
Efforts will be made to locate more through excavations in this area.