The Arroyo Hondo Pueblo Project

Doug SchwartzDoug SchwartzIn 1970 Douglas W. Schwartz, then president of the School of American Research (now School for Advanced Research), initiated a major archaeological research project at Arroyo Hondo Pueblo. After five seasons of excavation followed by almost four decades of analysis, writing, and publication, Dr. Schwartz now presents us with a comprehensive website,, that helps us better understand the life and changes of this Ancestral Puebloan community and the opportunity to explore in depth the cultural region and environmental transformations of which it was a part.

The website includes the research results, publications, bibliography, archaeological summary, aerial and other photographs, project chronology, and a series of current essays setting the project in the context of the most recent research. The material presented on the website is in an accessible format for both scholars and the general public and includes an artist rendering of what the pueblo may have looked like at its climax.

Arroyo Hondo rendering

Fieldwork at Arroyo Hondo Pueblo yielded fundamental new information about fourteenth-century life in the northern Rio Grande valley. Because the site has been built and abandoned in a relatively short period of time, and since no large, later pueblo was constructed over it, the full architectural layout and construction sequence of the pueblo, with all its changes over time, were clearly visible.

“The Arroyo Hondo Pueblo website highlights the emergence of a new architectural style that set in motion the rise of the Classic Rio Grande pueblo pattern. It presents the intricate details of Pueblo life during the 14th century,” says Douglas W. Schwartz, the project’s principal investigator, and president emeritus of SAR.

The pueblo perched on the edge of the Arroyo Hondo canyon south of Santa Fe was determined to be an ideal location to obtain a more detailed understanding of northern Rio Grande history. In the late 1960s Douglas Schwartz, who had recently completed four field seasons of excavations in the Grand Canyon and had just become president of the School for Advanced Research obtained support for the project from the National Science Foundation and the National Geographic Society.

Resulting from the Arroyo Hondo Pueblo project were several Master’s theses and doctoral dissertations as well as nine published monographs covering various aspects of the research. In 2006, based on the Project’s research, the Arroyo Hondo Pueblo site was listed on the National Register of Historic Places of the United States Department of the Interior.

The 20-acre preserve surrounding the Arroyo Hondo Pueblo physical site was transferred by SAR to the Archaeological Conservancy in 2003 and is not open to the public except by permission. To access the Arroyo Hondo Pueblo Project website, visit

Doug Schwartz delivered his final presentation on the Arroyo Hondo project on May 5, 2016, in the SAR Dobkin Boardroom. View SAR volunteer John Sadd's video of the field trip to the Arroyo Hondo site here:

Click here if you would like to contribute to the Douglas W. Schwartz Memorial Fund to help advance SAR’s scholar programs and to maintain and improve SAR's historic campus, two projects which were near to Doug’s heart.

If you are not already a member and would like to join SAR and take advantage of these opportunities, go to

Painting by Susan Cooper.

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