Theses (Historic Preservation)

Document Type

Thesis or dissertation

Date of this Version



A THESIS in Historic Preservation Presented to the Faculties of the University of Pennsylvania in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements of the Degree of MASTER OF SCIENCE IN HISTORIC PRESERVATION 2009


This paper examines Spruce Tree House, an alcovate site located in Mesa Verde National Park, as a model for monitoring the impacts of the natural environment on the deterioration of a unique collection of archaeological resources. At present, it is the only alcove site in the park that has been fully documented by park service archaeologists. In the past, preservation at Mesa Verde has focused on the minimal remedial stabilization of the prehistoric masonry structures. A comprehensive study of broad deterioration patterns across the alcovate sites in the park and the possible causes of these patterns has never been performed. Identifying common sources of deterioration site-wide has the potential to lead to a comprehensive maintenance plan that could slow deterioration through preventive as well as remedial actions, thereby protecting the resources and decreasing the amount of emergency rehabilitation work needed. Implementation of a monitoring program is the first step in this process, as it allows us to identify patterns and establish causality, leading eventually to non-invasive preventive and protective measures. This paper proposes that the presence of water is the main cause of deterioration at the site. A specific monitoring program has been put forth in order to verify that this is still an active problem at the site. The program includes the use of soil moisture meters, motion activated cameras and at least one weather station to record the external environmental conditions for comparison with occurrences within the alcove.



Date Posted: 20 October 2009