Pueblos of the Northern Galisteo Basin

Field Trip

Saturday, June 2, 2012, 7:30–2:00 pm

Pueblos of the Northern Galisteo BasinPueblos of the Northern Galisteo BasinPueblo Ruins in the Galisteo Basin, photograph by Jason S. Ordaz.Pueblos of the Northern Galisteo BasinPueblo Ruins in the Galisteo Basin, photograph by Jason S. Ordaz.

For three centuries, the Galisteo Basin was home to one of the largest concentrations of Puebloan communities in the Southwest. The Galisteo Basin sits at a crossroads of trade routes between the eastern Great Plains and the Rio Grande pueblos to the west. The basin is formed by numerous drainages to Galisteo Creek, which enters the Rio Grande near Santo Domingo Pueblo. A dozen pueblos with thousands of inhabitants farmed here before the Spanish arrived; but within a hundred years of the Entrada, most of these thriving villages were abandoned.

The three pueblos of Las Madres, Galisteo, and Lamy Junction represent stages in the development of occupation of the Galisteo Basin. They are situated along the edges of the Galisteo Creek, between the modern day villages of Lamy and Galisteo. The masonry pueblo of Las Madres, occupied between AD 1275 and 1370, sits on a defensible sandstone mesa immediately overlooking the creek and the larger and later Pueblo Galisteo. Las Madres was excavated by Dr. Bertha Dutton in 1962 as she looked for connections between the Mesa Verde area and the Galisteo Basin.

A small portion of Pueblo Galisteo was excavated by archaeologist Nels Nelson in 1912. He identified twenty-six separate adobe roomblocks, with over 1640 rooms and ten plazas. Spanish records show that two successive mission churches were built at the pueblo, and a mapping project by the Office of Archaeological Studies has identified their location. The village participated in the Pueblo Revolt in 1680, and then was abandoned when its people moved into Santa Fe where they stayed until the 1693 Reconquest. The pueblo was repopulated under Spanish direction, but abandoned again around 1794 when smallpox and Comanche raids forced its inhabitants to move south to Santo Domingo.

Lamy Junction consists of a community of thirteen small pueblos arrayed around the larger Lamy Pueblo. These sites are an important part of the occupation of the Galisteo Basin during the thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries. Nels Nelson and H. P. Mera worked at Lamy Junction, but their research at Lamy was never published.

Archaeologist Eric Blinman, New Mexico Office of Archaeological Studies, will be our guide to these rarely visited sites. He has an extensive knowledge of the Galisteo Basin and understands how these sites fit into the larger archaeological story of the basin.

Activity Level: Moderate, involves walking over uneven ground, crossing the Rio Galisteo (often but not always dry, especially in early June), and hiking up a 150-foot mesa. Participants should be comfortable walking a distance of approximately one mile roundtrip.

Cost (per person): $75, includes transportation, guide honorarium, and a picnic lunch.

Trip Registration—New Policy: To ensure that field trip registration is equitable, SAR has adopted a lottery system. Please send your field trip requests (PDF, 590 KB) by mail (postmarked no later than January 2, 2012). A drawing will then be held for each trip, and members will be notified of the results by January 12, 2012. Please note that memberships at or above the Galisteo level receive advance registration.

For more information, visit the Field Trips section.

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