DAYTON AREA

THE BIG HOUSE

SunWatch houses were built on a frame of upright poles set in the ground, in a rectangular pattern. The walls were woven twigs, plastered with mud – a method called “wattle and daub.” The steep, thatched roofs had big overhangs to keep rain away from the walls. Inside were built-in benches for sitting and sleeping; the central fireplace was vented through the roof.

The Big House, reconstructed here, has other features. The times of planting and harvesting were marked here by the morning shadow of the village’s central pole. Archaeologist Andy Sawyer:

It’s one of the biggest houses in the village, but also it has more seating capacity, and we think that relates to its use as a communal structure, where folks, village elders, village leaders from this community, maybe even others, would come together at various times throughout the year.

The Big House also has a special, interior wall:

This interior wall looks like it divides off a smaller non-public space from the larger public space. And it could have been used for shamans, or other community or religious leaders, to store religious material, paraphernalia. On the mornings of the events such as the planting alignment, it may be their duty to prepare everything in the back, as everyone gathers in the house, and then to step through the doorway to begin the ceremony.

Dayton Area

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