Archaeologists were initially drawn to Antelope Mesa by its long history. Awatovi and similar sites in the vicinity were ideal for investigating long-term change and continuity among Puebloan peoples.
Archaeologists create ceramic typologies to help organize their understanding of past peoples and cultural change over time: ceramics from deep soil layers are older than those from top levels. Awatovi Expedition members constructed a sequence of common Antelope Mesa pottery types, including examples shown above.
Kivas are special ceremonial rooms found in Puebloan sites in the U.S. Southwest. Of the kivas recorded by the expedition at Awatovi, about 25 featured complex polychrome wall murals. Acts of painting and effacing these murals were integral to ceremonies performed in the kivas; one had as many 27 layers of painted plaster. The imagery of the Awatovi murals enriches modern understandings of kiva ceremonies, which are still practiced today. You can see murals from Awatovi and other sites in the Peabody Museum’s Storied Walls: Murals of the Americas exhibition.