New Mexico Office of Archaeological Studies

Santa Fe to Pojoaque Corridor

Project name: Santa Fe to Pojoaque Corridor
Period: Late Developmental (AD 900–1100), early nineteenth century
Project directors: Jeffrey Boyer, Steven Lakatos, James Moore

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. Eventually, nineteen sites were affected by highway construction. All were excavated, yielding information on 3,000 years of northern New Mexico prehistory and history. Most of the sites dated to the Late Developmental period (A.D. 900–1100)—a critical time in the peopling of the Northern Rio Grande by farmers. One of the main questions posed by this research is where those farmers came from. Did they develop out of a local hunter-gatherer population, or were they immigrants from the west or south? To answer this question, the excavated sites are being compared with contemporaneous Rio Grande Valley sites as well as sites in the San Juan region, to the west and northwest. Pojoaque Corridor excavation

Among the excavated sites is the first Late Archaic site investigated so far in the southern Tewa Basin, the first pottery kiln examined in the Tewa Basin (not far from similar kilns excavated by OAS archaeologists on the Santa Fe Piedmont), and the oldest Puebloan cemetery so far investigated in the Northern Rio Grande Valley. The Late Archaic sites and components will be tied into a considerable body of information on Archaic-period occupation of the Northern Rio Grande that has been gathered in recent years by several institutions, including OAS. Questions are being asked about when corn horticulture entered this region compared to other parts of northern New Mexico, and the apparent late persistence of a hunting and gathering lifestyle in this region compared to other parts of the Southwest.

Several Spanish sites, dating between the late 1780s and 1860s, are being studied to examine changes in the New Mexican economy through time and under three different governments. We are particularly interested in how the Santa Fe Trail trade changed the local Spanish economy, and how those changes are reflected in site assemblages. In order to facilitate this study, a detailed reconstruction of Spanish land ownership was completed for the areas in which the Spanish sites occurred, providing detailed information on the social history of the study area. The project gave OAS an opportunity to compile the first social history of the Cuyamungue land grant; to rectify several decades of site recording, re-recording, and, sometimes, re-re-recording, that resulted in obscure and confusing combinations of site records and artifact collections; to identify patterns of continuity and change during 1,100 years of continuous Puebloan occupation; and to examine the impacts of Euroamericans and Native Americans upon each others' settlement, land use, and economy.