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Historic Finds at Dig Giusewa!

Excavation inside Giusewa Pueblo Photo by Ethan Ortega.

Over eight weeks this summer, Jemez Historic Site hosted “Dig Giusewa,” its first major archaeological excavation in over 50 years as part of New Mexico Historic Sites award winning Public Archaeology Program. The project was undertaken to address long held questions about the origins of the Jemez people and how their lives changed after the arrival of the Spanish.

After removing debris and rubble, a large room (16 ft by 9 ft) appeared on what appears to be the first floor of a much larger multi-story room block, or apartment-like complex. Walls were constructed of stone and adobe and were plastered with gypsum to form a black and white banded design. A small door way was the only access to the room which may have served as storage.

The upper story had crashed into the room, beneath the rubble were several broken Rio Grande Glazeware and Jemez Black-on-white vessels. These were crafted sometime between AD 1650 and 1700, very possibly during the Pueblo Revolt of August 10, 1680 which led to the Spanish being expelled from northern New Mexico for over a decade.

Other unearthed items included several projectile points, a candle stick holder, two cloud blower pipes, bobcat and elk skulls and a woven yucca mat.

No human remains were encountered. However, butchered animal bones were dispersed throughout the fill and included portions of elk, deer, bison (or possibly cow), sheep/goat, fish, and a number of large birds and rodents.

All of these findings are very preliminary and will be refined as archaeologists struggle to address questions associated with Jemez origins and acculturation. In the meantime, laboratory analyses and artifacts are on display to the public in the Visitor Center at Jemez Historic Site. Preservation, staging, and opening of the excavated room to visitors is anticipated to occur in the spring of 2019 with a final report detailing the results of archaeological investigations out later that year.

Open Wednesday-Sunday, 8:30 a.m.–5 p.m., $5 per adult; children and Jemez Tribal members are free. Free to NM seniors with ID on Wednesday and all NM residents with ID on the first Sunday of the month.

Enjoy a self-guided tour with a detailed and fully illustrated trail guide or arrange a group tour in advance. If reserved ahead of time, staff can accommodate parties of 10 or more for a ranger-guided tour.

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