The Galisteo Basin: Archaeology and History of a New Mexico Landscape

In Memory of Dr. Linda Cordell

Symposium, The New Mexico History Museum Auditorium

Saturday, March 30, 2013, 12:30–5:00 pm

On March 30, 2013, the Museum of New Mexico’s Friends of Archaeology and the School for Advanced Research co-sponsored a public symposium on the archaeology and history of the Galisteo Basin. The half-day event was to have featured talks by eight distinguished scholars who have researched this culturally rich valley. Sadly, one of the speakers, Linda Cordell, passed away the evening before the event.

On behalf of the Board of Managers, staff, and associates of the School for Advanced Research, we dedicate the Galisteo Basin symposium to Linda to commemorate her superior scholarship, her determination to excel in a field that, at the time, did not easily accept women, and her generosity to the many archaeologists and other scholars she mentored.

View the 2013 Galisteo Basin Symposium Program (PDF, 4 MB)

The speakers: Linda Cordell, Eric Blinman, Wolky Toll, Polly Schaafsma, David Hurst Thomas, Lucy Lippard, Porter Swentzell, and James Snead.

Videography and video editing by SAR volunteer John Sadd


Linda Cordell
A Galisteo Basin Primer

Cordell will provide an introduction to the Galisteo Basin and to the Galisteo Basin Archaeological Sites Protection Act. Her talk focuses on challenges faced by those who are trying to implement the act and notes some of their successes that are elaborated by others in the symposium.

Eric Blinman
Galisteo Basin as a Formative Landscape: Environment and Archaeology before AD 1400

The Galisteo Basin was a rich hunting and gathering resource for millennia, an important hinterland to the development of adjacent farming communities through the late 12th century. Coincident with a regional change in climate, we see colonization by adjacent Puebloan poulations beginning in the 1190s and accelerating through the 13th century. Mixed subsistence rapidly gave way to heavy reliance on maize, and homesteads grew into hamlets and small villages.

Galisteo Basin PetroglyphGalisteo Basin PetroglyphPhotograph by Jason S. Ordaz
Galisteo Basin Petroglyph
Petroglyph (Upside Down), Galisteo BasinPetroglyph (Upside Down), Galisteo BasinPhotograph by Jason S. Ordaz
Petroglyph (Upside Down), Galisteo Basin
Hand Pictograph, Galisteo BasinHand Pictograph, Galisteo BasinPhotograph by Jason S. Ordaz
Hand Pictograph, Galisteo Basin

H. Wolcott Toll, Museum of New Mexico Office of Archaeological Studies
Extremely Big and Incredibly Short: The Classic in the Galisteo Basin

The span of time we see as the Classic in the Galisteo Basin from A.D. 1375 to before the Spanish Entrada in 1540 was a surprisingly short period of time during which a surprising amount happened. Although we treat “the Classic” as a unitary concept, the Galisteo is a good illustration of the cultural complexity and diversity of components within such constructs. Aggregation of smaller, more dispersed settlements into fewer larger ones, relationships among cultural and linguistic groups, and mechanisms for dealing with larger local populations are all topics relevant to the Galisteo classic. I will focus on what we know and can see of the several very large, famous pueblos Galisteo Basin pueblos.

Polly Schaafsma
Getting Out of Town: Changing Landscape in the Galisteo Basin

Pueblo imagery on stone casts a network of meaning across the Galisteo Basin. Defining place and socializing the land, rock art imparts significance to stony outcrops and hidden alcoves beyond the Pueblo towns, defining a sacred landscape with perceived resident powers. This presentation will briefly consider the cosmological and social implications of this enduring legacy that integrated Pueblo residents with their surrounding world.

David Hurst Thomas
Spanish Mission Archaeology in the Galisteo: Two Curious and Conflicted Centuries

A century of Franciscan mission life played out within the Galisteo Basin. At Mission San Marcos and elsewhere, pueblo neophytes became inextricably drawn into the vastly different, conflicted worlds that the missions represented. Exactly a century ago, archaeologist Nels Nelson excavated in these same missions, as part of his broad-scale study of stratigraphy and architecture of the Galisteo Basin pueblos. Nelson’s ambivalence toward the Spanish missions of the Galisteo set the tone for the conflicted century of mission archaeology in the American Southwest.

Lucy Lippard
Resettling the Galisteo Basin: 1790–1846

The Galisteo Basin was virtually empty in the 1700s except for the desperate Tanos/Tewas, who were forced by the Spanish to reinhabit the isolated Galisteo pueblo in 1706, providing a buffer against nomadic raiders until they finally fled around 1782. In the 1790s parts of the Basin (mostly western) appear to have been used for grazing by a wealthy Spanish family. An armed garrison was set up in 1795 either at the deserted pueblo or the current village site. In 1799 a land grant was granted to an old soldier for an area near the pueblo, but may never have been utilized. Around 1808-14 a few brave souls settled on The Hill in what is now the village, farming suertes below along the Rio Galisteo. In the 1840s, when the threat of raiding Natives diminished, more grants were awarded. Then the Americans arrived.

Porter Swentzell
Thaanugeh: Tewa perspectives of the Galisteo Basin

The descendants of the Tewa-speaking inhabitants of the Galisteo Basin now live in both Eastern and Western pueblos. Many of these descendants are thought to live in Hopi-Tewa while maintaining strong connections to Rio Grande Tewa-speaking pueblos. Some of these Eastern Tewa-speaking villages pass down their own distinctive connections to their relatives who once lived in Thaanugeh, or the Galisteo Basin.

James Snead
Discussion: A Hundred and One Years of Archaeology in the Galisteo Basin

Sponsored by School for Advanced Research and Friends of Archaeology

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