Programs & Services

Digging Deeper

Excavations Reveal New Discoveries

Arrowhead uncovered at Coronado Historic Site, photo by Ethan Ortega.

For the first time in more than 100 years of archaeological research, the entire property of Coronado Historic Site, including Kuaua Pueblo, has been extensively surveyed.

In a joint effort with New Mexico Historic Sites, the New Mexico Office of Archaeological Studies, and the Friends of Coronado Historic Site, nine new sites have been identified, and the existing boundaries of the Kuaua Pueblo site have been expanded revealing the previously undocumented rooms. These discoveries not only change the extent and interpretation of the site, but also focus attention on preserving areas not impacted by archaeologists in the early twentieth century.

Entitled Dig Kuaua, the project took place over the summer and utilized more than seventy-five local volunteers and allowed visitors to get close to real archaeology. Artifacts from these sites represent the last 2,000 years of human history in New Mexico. Over 7,000 artifacts were recovered from this limited testing including Native American ceramics, flaked stone, and animal bone. In addition, hundreds of isolated artifacts were found.

The site also contained a Spanish Colonial hacienda dating to the 1600s. It is believed to have been the residence of the encomendero, or Spanish overseer, of Kuaua Pueblo and may have been burned in the Pueblo Revolt of 1680. Artifacts from this household provide an interesting look at life on the frontier including spindle whorls and large quantities of sheep and goat bones. These materials demonstrate the importance of animal husbandry and wool industries.

A metal detector survey of the grounds conducted by Dr. Clay Mathers of the Coronado Institute focused on locating evidence of the Coronado Expedition at the site through the recovery of Spanish metal artifacts. While no crossbow bolts or caret-headed nails have been found as of this writing, forged artifacts dating to the Historic Period, including a buckle, part of bridle, and small fragments of what appears to be chainmail, have. These are not definitive signs of the Coronado Expedition, but like all these archaeological investigations, the artifacts tease at the potential buried under the visitor’s feet.

The story of Coronado Historic Site is ever evolving. Research conducted in summer 2017 is part of a greater vision to tell a more complete and accurate narrative.

Open Wednesday–Monday, 8:30 a.m.–5:00 a.m. Docent-led tours occur on the hour between 10:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. and are free with admission. Admittance is $5 per adult. There is never a charge for children. Coronado Historic Site is free to New Mexico seniors on Wednesday and all New Mexico residents on the first Sunday of every month.

Educators throughout New Mexico can visit the Coronado Historic Site blog at Kuaua.com for resources about class field-trip site visits, off-site outreach programs, printable downloads, and teaching collections.

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