LITTLE WALT MESCAL PIT SITE
Regretably, this site has been impacted by oil field development. Falling at the juncture of state and federal land,
the site is preserved on BLM land and bulldozed on state land. Too bad there are no laws that require
archaeological inventory of state land before development and that would lead to preservation of cultural
This is a new site that was not known by archaeologists prior to this visit. It was shown to me by local Harvey
Road-cut showing dark sediment where a ring
midden was removed by on-going road grading.
The largest and most recent ring midden is visible in the upper portion of the photograph on the far side of the
road which cuts through the site and through features. Flow lines and traffic disturbance cut the west side of the
site, and powerlines intrude too close to the features and artifact scatter. Industry can damage these sites out of
existence but archaeologists cannot document or study them without months of hoop-jumping, bureaucratic
paperwork, and payment of fees, and even then research requests are often denied. Several more of these
types of sites are located just around the corner on state land and those too have been cut by oil field roads
and flow lines.
One of many species of cholla
Azotea Mesa is one of the rich and highly varied habitats in the Carlsbad region. Indigenous groups visited this area through
time to exploit the dense distributions of cacti and other edible and useable species, some of which are shown here. Ample
fuelwood and rocks add to the value of this setting for roasting plant resources. This site shows evidence of intensive use
through time, probably from the Archaic period, judging from one biface encountered. Chupadero and Three Rivers pottery as
well as plainwares indicate a prehistoric ceramic period occupation, while the freshness of the rock ring and some of the
flaked-stone artifacts (and one plainware sherd) suggest an Apache or late mobile group occupation.
Burned rock and ash in the foreground results from centuries of use. The pure burned rock (light colored) on the
west side of the ring attests to the numerous relatively recent uses by probable historic native groups. A burned rock
sample was collected from the center of the feature where it was last dug out to remove food contents, and will be
submitted for luminescence dating to ascertain the age of the latest use of this feature. At least two other mescal pits
are present that look much older. Funding limitations will restrict the number of samples run from this site.
THE MATERIAL ON THIS PAGE IS COPYRIGHTED AND SHOULD BE APPROPRIATELY CITED (C) 2007-2008, Deni Seymour
Prickly pear and grasses