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     Kin Bineola is an awesome stone building, known as a great house, built by the Chaco Anasazi in northwestern New Mexico between A.D. 942 and 1120 (Marshall, Stein, Loose, and Novotny 1979). Kin Bineola is 17 kilometers southwest of Chaco Canyon, the center of the Chaco Anasazi and world famous today for its great houses—monumental, multistory, coursed-stone-veneer buildings whose floor plans are regular and symmetrical (Lekson 1984). Of the more than one hundred known great houses, Kin Bineola is one of the most intriguing. It is the third largest great house outside of Chaco Canyon, yet it is unexcavated (Powers, Gillespie, and Lekson 1983). Many additional structures such as room blocks, shrines, great kivas, and various linear features are near Kin Bineola, and their number, diversity, and purpose is puzzling. Landscape features near Kin Bineola— rock-capped buttes—are fascinating and almost anthropomorphic; what did they look like one thousand years ago? Did they have any special significance to the Anasazi?
Kin Bineola Great House
     Kin Bineola is a large, E-shaped great house on the Kim-me-ni-oli Valley floodplain, about 500 meters east of the wash. The great house is surrounded on the north and east by the steep edge of a mesa. Although classified as a "medium" great house, at an estimated floor area of 8225 square meters, it is exceeded in size by only eight other Chacoan great houses in the fifty-one included in The Outlier Survey, and of these, only two others outside of Chaco Canyon are larger than Kin Bineola (Powers, Gillespie, Lekson 1983; Lekson 1991). The great house is 106.5 meters long and 46.5 meters wide, with the open side facing SSE. The highest walls visible today, located in the northernmost room blocks, are three stories high, although Holsinger in 1901 saw fallen walls along the north that he interpreted as being a fourth floor. The building is terraced towards the south, and encloses two plaza areas, the eastern one being demarcated on the southern periphery by a low wall. Within the room block are ten kivas—round ceremonial rooms—including two elevated kivas. Great kivas—enormous round ceremonial chambers—are commonly found in the plazas of Chacoan great houses, but at Kin Bineola, a great kiva 17 meters in diameter is outside of the plaza, 10 meters to the southwest of the great house. Through dendrochronology of a few specimens of wood from six known rooms, Bannister, Robinson, and Warren (1970) found two primary clusters of dates: A. D. 942-43, all in the central wing, and A. D. 1111-20. More recent dendrochronological work has not yielded any additional dates (Windes 1997). As yet unexcavated, much is still to be learned about Kin Bineola.
Siting of the Kin Bineola Great House
     The Kin Bineola great house is at the northern end of an eastern branch of the Kim-me-ni-oli Valley. It is conveniently located about 500 meters from the Kim-me-ni-oli Wash. It is on gently sloping terrain and is easily accessible from many surrounding areas. Although not on top of a mesa, Kin Bineola has a panoramic view for about 180º to the south, and this view is dominated by the formidable Hosta Butte, 47 kilometers south and 6.5 kilometers west. To the north, for about 180º, Kin Bineola is protected by the concave edge of a mesa, that despite the name Kin bii’ naayoli, Navajo for ‘house in which the wind whirls’, provides some protection from the wind. In places the edge of the mesa is eroded to form small, stone-capped, earth buttes. From the top of the mesa, sandstone has been quarried to build Kin Bineola. The location of Kin Bineola has several advantages, including nearby water, nearby stone, a panoramic view to the south, and some protection from the north. One disadvantage of Kin Bineola’s location is that any view to the north is obscured by the adjacent mesa. The Triple Room Block, only 400 meters to the northwest on a prominent tip of the mesa, interpreted by Marshall, et al. to have a "special non-domiciliary function," may have been a viewing station associated with the great house. Although the nearby miniature buttes, as distinctive features of the landscape, could have held spiritual significance for the Anasazi and influenced them to build nearby, it seems more likely that the great house was located so as to be somewhat sheltered by the surrounding mesa, while maintaining a clear view to the south. Nearby a finger of the mesa provids a location for a viewing station with a superior view.
Text and Site Map ©Anne Lawrason Marshall's Kin Bineola at