A Summary Report on Archaeological Mapping at Pueblo San Marcos (LA98), 1997 & 1998


 Ann F. Ramenofsky and Christopher Pierce


In 1996, Dr. Ann Ramenofsky and Chris Pierce began discussions with the Archaeological Conservancy regarding the potential for long-term, significant research at San Marcos Pueblo (LA98). The site is located on a 60-acre Conservancy preserve adjacent to New Mexico State Highway 14 in the Galisteo Basin south of Santa Fe. At the time, the Conservancy was in the process of acquiring the entire parcel that included numerous room blocks and a mission-complex. Given the integrity of the site, the tourism potential, and the importance of the site for understanding a significant part of Rio Grande prehistory and history to the Pueblo Revolt, the Conservancy was interested and supportive of sustained archaeological field work at San Marcos.


Since that time and continuing through the present, a small group from University of New Mexico under the direction of Dr. Ramenofsky and Christopher Pierce have undertaken background research and limited field work to acquire the necessary knowledge for more in-depth investigations. None of the fieldwork has included the collection of artifacts. The background research began with a research trip to the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) to examine Nels Nelson's artifact collection and archival materials. Nelson worked at San Marcos in 1912 and again in 1915 (Nelson 1914; 1916). The artifact collection included numerous prehistoric and historic-period native ceramics, Spanish Majolicas, candlesticks, some flaked stone, minerals (selenite and turquoise), a metal bell fragment and some scrap metal. We were fortunate to locate Nelson's original planimetric map of the pueblo (Figure 1). Dr. Ramenofsky also began discussions with Dr. David Thomas, Curator of Archaeology at AMNH, regarding the possibility of doing remote sensing of the mission complex. Dr. Thomas has since begun to explore of that part of the settlement.


Figure 1
Figure 1

The initial goal of the fieldwork was to produce modern, detailed planimetric and topographic maps of the pueblo. In addition to Nelson's plan maps, a group from the University of Colorado had produced a series of photogrammetric interpretations and surface maps of the pueblo (Eddy et al. 1996; Welker 1997; Welker and Carr 1995). We benefited from these previous efforts, and used them to familiarize ourselves with the surface complexity of the pueblo. None of the earlier maps were topographic, and the latter is an important tool for management and for archaeological surface and sub-surface research.

In 1997, we spent approximately two weeks in the field. Given the size and topographic relief of the pueblo, we used a Sokkia 4B total station for mapping. All measurements were collected with an electronic data recorder and were later down loaded for the production of surface plans. We concentrated this preliminary effort on the delineation of room blocks, surface depressions (kivas), surface middens, and adobe wall segments. Boundaries of room blocks were defined by vegetational changes and by topography. We noted where down cutting and modern trails had cut through room blocks. In generating our planimetric maps, we used this knowledge to connect room blocks that had been previously separated. The pattern of growth in the vegetation on room blocks delineated adobe wall segments. Because this pattern of growth was so clear and repetitive, we began to record these adobe wall segments (Figure 2). This work was labor intensive and involved first identifying and flagging different kinds of segments, wall ends, wall intersections, and wall corners. Sketch maps by room block of these wall pieces were then drawn, and the flagged points shot in with the station.

Figure 2
Figure 2

The results of the 1997 mapping exercise were presented in a poster at the 1998 Society for American Archaeology meetings (Penman et al. 1998). In the poster, we compared the plan views of Nelson, University of Colorado, and UNM. We have presented these preliminary ideas regarding the contact period record at San Marcos at several meetings (Pierce 1998; Pierce and Ramenofsky 1998).

1n 1998, we obtained funds from a corporate foundation and the UNM Snead-Wertheim Lectureship to conduct an aerial photogrammetric survey of the pueblo in order to construct a fine scale topographic map. This work involved establishing eleven precisely located ground control points spaced systematically across the site. The ground control points were shot with the station and were keyed into the grid established in 1997. The aerial flight was conducted by Pacific Western Technologies.  We acquired large-scale, color aerial photographs with stereo coverage of the site and the digital data for the map. We employed Arch View to generate the topographic map of the entire site with a 25 cm contour interval.

In summary, then, we have completed the mapping goal at San Marcos. We have considerable knowledge of the surface topography, and the kinds of artifacts that have previously been collected. We have studied Nelson's records in detail and have generated both plan and topographic maps of the pueblo. We are now ready to move forward and begin to document the nature of the surface archaeological record.

References Cited

Eddy, F. W., D. R. Lightfoot, E. A. Welker, L. L. Wright, and D. C. Torres
  1996   Air Photographic Mapping of San Marcos Pueblo. Journal of Field Archaeology 23:1-13.

Nelson, N. C.
  1914   Pueblo Ruins of the Galisteo Basin, New Mexico. Anthropological Papers Vol. 15, Pt 1. American Museum of Natural History, New York.

  1916   Chronology of the Tano Ruins, New Mexico. American Anthropologist 18 (2): 159-180.

Penman, S. L., A. F. Ramenofsky, C. Pierce, D. Vaughan, and E. A. Welker
  1998   Will the Real San Marcos Pueblo Please Stand Up: An Examination of Bias and Error in Site Maps . Poster presented at the 63rd Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Seattle.

Pierce, C., and A. F. Ramenofsky
  1998   Investigating Patterns of Cooperation and Conflict during the Contact Period in New Mexico. Paper presented at the Sixth Biennial Southwest Symposium, Hermosillo, Mexico.

Pierce, C.
  1998   Toward Explaining Complex Patterns of Cooperation and Conflict during the Protohistoric Period in the American Southwest. Paper presented at the summer workshop on Modeling Complexity in Social Systems, Colorado Center for Chaos and Complexity, University of Colorado, Boulder.

Welker, E. A.
  1997    Attributes of Aggregation at Pueblo San Marcos and Pecos Pueblo in the northern Rio Grande. Unpublished Ph. D. dissertation. Department of Anthropology. University of Colorado. Boulder.

Welker, E. A., and T. Carr
  1994   Using Geophysical Surveying to Map Burnt Adobe Architecture. Paper presented at the 61st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, New Orleans.