New Mexico Office of Archaeological Studies

Office of Archaeological Studies Fieldwork

Abandoned Mine Land Program
The OAS continues to conduct clearance surveys for the Abandoned Mine Land Program, Mining and Minerals Division, which is part of the New Mexico Energy, Minerals, and Natural Resources Department.

Acomita Interchange
OAS archaeologists excavated three sites near the Acomita Interchange of I-40 in Cibola County, including a large, multicomponent artifact scatter. Large quantities of nonlocal material types were represented, including Jemez obsidian, fingerprint chert, Alibates chert, Edwards Plateau chert, Zuni spotted chert, and Jemez Polvadera obsidian, suggesting that selected cores were curated and transported to the site.

Capitol Parking Facility
The Capitol Parking Facility is one of few large-scale projects conducted in Santa Fe and the Southwest to focus on twentieth-century urban landscapes. Over 230 features were documented and 23,000 artifacts recovered. Many of the features were privies (outhouses) and refuse pits associated with the household groups occupying the area. Artifacts included large whiskey jugs, children's toys, and saw-cut animal bone.

Casas Grandes
The Casas Grandes region of northern Chihuahua holds evidence of perhaps the last great economic and political system in the prehistoric Southwest and northern Mexico. Since archaeologist Charles Di Peso excavated the prehistoric Casas Grandes town of Paquimé, the site has been interpreted as the nexus of a trade system bridging the great civilizations of Mesoamerica and the smaller Pueblo communities of the Southwest.

Cookes Peak
OAS archaeologists surveyed over 3,000 acres and documented about 2,300 archaeological features, many of them associated with mining activities in the Cookes Peak area between the 1870s and 1940s. The mining features included typical hard-rock mining remnants such as adits, shafts, open cuts, prospect pits, trenches, and waste rock piles. Habitation areas such as dugouts, tent pads, and trash scatters were also encountered.

Executive Office Building
In 2011 the OAS conducted archaeological excavations on state land just south of the Bataan Memorial Building in preparation for construction of the governor’s new Executive Office Building. The structure will be within the boundaries of LA 158037, an archaeological site with deposits dating primarily to the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. During the late Territorial and New Mexico Statehood periods, this site was part of a multiethnic residential area in the Capitol Complex Historic Neighborhood of Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Galisteo Basin
OAS coordinated and performed site condition assessments on the twenty-four sites specified in the Galisteo Basin Archaeological Sites Protection Act. We remain involved with the act coordinating committee and hope to participate in the next phase of the protection project.

OAS examined and excavated portions of eleven prehistoric sites and one historic site in the Ojo Caliente Valley. Most of the prehistoric sites contained gravel-mulched fields and other features related to Pueblo farming in the valley during the Rio Grande Classic period.

High Rolls Cave
OAS archaeologists conducted archaeological testing at High Rolls Cave in 1996 and 2000, revealing deposits from the middle and late Archaic periods—about 3,500 years ago. The excavations exposed deeply stratified materials, floors, diagnostic artifacts, and features radiocarbon dated to 1500 BC to AD 250.

Excavations along New Mexico 537 on land belonging to the Jicarilla Apache Nation revealed Gallina-period and Dinetah Navajo sites along with a previously unrecorded pictograph of the Twin War Gods of the Dinetah phase and a panel of other pictographs.

La Plata
Discerning relationships within the Totah and between it and Chaco is part of what we at OAS are studying in our long-term study of the La Plata Valley. The La Plata is the smallest of the three rivers conjoining in the Totah and probably the most useful for developing irrigation. Our archaeologists excavated parts of 34 sites for the New Mexico Department of Transportation as part of improvements to the La Plata Highway.

Loving Lakes
OAS crews spent from late 2006 to late 2007 excavating open, prehistoric camp sites in southeast New Mexico. The work was undertaken in conjunction with the New Mexico Department of Transportation and the Bureau of Land Management, Carlsbad Office, along the proposed realignment of New Mexico Highway 128 between Loving and Jal.

New Mexico History Museum
Between October 2002 and October 2004, OAS completed excavations behind the Palace of the Governors in advance of construction of the New Mexico State History Museum in downtown Santa Fe. During fifteen months of fieldwork conducted by our archaeologists and more than thirty volunteers, we recovered more than 800,000 artifacts, and exposed and documented 200 cultural features from early Spanish Colonial to early statehood occupation of the Palace of the Governors grounds.

Northwest Santa Fe Relief Route
The OAS investigated 60 archaeological sites on the Santa Fe Piedmont with at least 77 temporal components. Fourteen of those sites were excavated, revealing a 7,000-year history of occupation in the piedmont from the Early Archaic to the historic Pueblo and Euroamerican periods.

The sustained prevailing winds of southeast New Mexico and the elevated setting of San Juan Mesa are ideal for generating electricity from wind energy. The San Juan Mesa archaeological inventory was conducted in advance of the construction of a wind-generated power plant.

Peña Blanca
OAS excavations at seven sites along NM 22 provided new information on identity, subsistence, and community at various scales over almost 1,500 years of human occupation.

Pueblo de Santa Fe
The city of Santa Fe was built on top of the ruins of occupations that probably began in the thirteenth century. The site of the Santa Fe Civic Center, currently under construction, typifies a pattern of change that has occurred over the centuries.

Santa Fe to Pojoaque Corridor
In 1997 the OAS began excavations at three sites near Pojoaque, New Mexico, in advance of the reconstruction of the US 84/285 highway. The sites had great potential for examining issues of prehistoric Puebloan social structure, community development, and economy, and Spanish Colonial settlement and land use.

Seven Rivers
The OAS investigated 23 hunter-gatherer thermal features in three burned-rock and artifact-scatter sites in Eddy County.

State Land Office
For several years, the Office of Archaeological Studies has been conducting archaeological surveys for the New Mexico State Land Office.

Tres Piedras
The OAS performed testing and data recovery on five archaeological sites south of Tres Piedras in Carson National Forest. The sites represented a broad range of temporal and ethnic affiliations.

Twin Lakes
Excavations along US 666 at Twin Lakes resulted in the documentation and collection of 24,145 artifacts and samples, mostly from two sites. The features at these sites indicate a high level of organization and suggest that this location functioned as a seasonal camp occupied to exploit an agricultural setting.

Water Canyon
Surface artifacts, including a late Paleoindian projectile point base, together with an extensive buried wet meadow deposit, were found in 2000 during an archaeological survey for a proposed astronomical facility in Socorro County. The wet meadow deposit has now been securely dated to between the early Paleoindian (Clovis) and early Archaic periods, while bison bone from the deposit falls squarely into the late Paleoindian period. Interdisciplinary research at the site includes archaeological investigations, pollen analyses, macrobotanical analyses, soil studies, and paleoclimatic reconstruction. Initial results of pollen studies indicate that during the late Paleoindian era, the site comprised a mosaic vegetational community, including the wet meadow, a surrounding sagebrush steppe, and a possible gallery forest of birch, maple, and possible cherry along the main channel of the Water Canyon drainage. Recent deep mechanical coring has encountered bone and filamentous algae spores at 3.7 m below the surface.