here we are at Pueblo San Marcos and this is the largest pueblo ruin in the United States.
It covers about 65-acres of ruins and midden, and 100 acres or more including all the features.
There are as many as 3,000 rooms here, that are estimated...two and three stories and
eight plazas. It was occupied from around 1400 until 1700 AD and was here at the time of the
pueblo revolt in 1680...which led to its final demise. So this pueblo is constructed of poured
adobe walls...not bricks. That was a Spanish introduction and we'll see some later on the trip.
These mounds that you see out here are the first stories
of the pueblo walls...and so they're four or five, six rooms across. Maybe they were one
to three stories high and the upper stories have now collapsed into the bottom stories.
Under where I'm speaking right here, what you'll find
is the first story walls and rooms intact...filled with the
remains of the upper stories and full of artifacts of all kinds left in these in these rooms.
And then in between, there's midden everywhere
and within the midden you find lots and lots of artifacts... and you also find lots of burials.
So it's a very extensive site.
So shall we walk down here? How's that sound?
Over here are the Cerrillos Hills and they are a major source of turquoise...and were
prehistorically...and that's one of the reasons this pueblo
is here. It is known by the local pueblo people today often as "The Turquoise Pueblo."
Turquoise was kind of the gold of the realm in pre-historic times and traded all over
the southwest...into Mexico down past Mexico City. A very important resource.
So what they're doing is cleaning the turquoise out of the matrix that it's in
the rock... and so that's what's left over.
Just think that somebody was sitting here,
you know, 300 years ago, laboriously cleaning turquoise out of the ore.
The way this pueblo is constructed is a good example...there are four sets of rooms
forming a rectangle. These rooms, these mounds probably have six or more rooms across...and
go around a plaza in the center. Most of the living activity took place in the plaza...
...and on the roofs of the structures.
So when you excavate under this plaza, you have to go down a couple of feet to get to
the original surface. You find all kind of stuff left behind on the floor of the plaza.
Here's a big plaza.
And that the floor, the original working surface of these plazas, is probably a couple feet
below where the surface is now it's just wind blown...eroded.
They were also mining galena, which is a lead ore. And in this area in the 1600s, they developed lead
glaze for pottery...and this is the the first occurrence of lead glaze in the southwest.
So this goes on down to the Galisteo River, which does not run most of the time...and who knows,
you know, what it was like 200 years ago...but it was providing enough water for 1000 1500 people.
So here again, we're off the ruin and back into midden right on the side of it so you can see...
...by the change in the earth, is that here's a wall right here. It's kind of eroded away,
but this part is hard adobe...and then starting right about here,
you have this dark colored midden. So this is a poured adobe wall
that is in situ...and that's what this pueblo was constructed of. Years ago, the arroyo
changed course and came through and cut off a little section of it right here...and that's why
we have this part that's exposed...and then this is fill from the upper stories that have fallen in
to the ruin...and what we can see is these wall stubs along here...where
a corner of this room block - that that
the arroyo, the erosion, just cut off one of the corners and that's why this is exposed.
So the building technique is to use kind of a form to pour the adobe in, say a foot or more
at a time, let it harden, raise it up, pour some more in...and you can see those lines.
And we stabilized this and tested it.
So when we purchased this, we built a check dam over here to move the arroyo to the other side.
And it's still there 40 years later and has worked wonderfully well. This is silted in behind it and
so this is all stable now. Volunteers came out and did a lot of the work. It's in really good shape.
So this is a big plaza area mounds all around.
These are big, big plazas.
So these artifacts we're seeing are stuff that rodents have brought up.
So that's a mano for grinding corn...and it's broken,
but if you feel it it's very smooth from years of use.
So one of the reasons this location is here is that there's a nice big spring right over here
in this thicket, and it's still running. I've never seen it run dry.
Nels Nelson also in 1912 recorded two smaller warm springs up the arroyo over here, but I've never
found them. It's been excavated several times. The most extensive excavation was in 1912 by
Nels Nelson of the American Museum of Natural History in New York...and he was here in 1912
and then he came back, I think, in 1915, and did some follow-up work. He was one of the pioneers
in early southwestern archaeology... dug at several pueblo ruins around this
area...and he developed some of the first techniques for excavating archaeological sites
in the southwest. One of his discoveries was stratification...and so he was able,
after digging here, to determine that something that seems maybe obvious
that the oldest stuff is on the bottom and the younger stuff is on the top...and that you can
date areas of the pueblo by the artifacts you find in what level they're in.
About 10 years ago, the American Museum was back here under the leadership of Dave Thomas. They
dug at the church and we'll go look at that in a little bit...and Ann Ramenofsky from the
University of New Mexico...they did testing all over the site, not extensive excavation,
but testing all over the site...and so we now have a much better idea of what parts were occupied
at what times and an estimate of how many people were living here.
Look at the size of this mound right here. This is the oldest part of the pueblo, we think, next
to the spring, and see how big it is? You know, it was probably at least three stories high here.
What I'm standing on is the convento, which was a rectangular building
with a plaza in the center...and this is where the Catholic priest lived and held classes
and did the things that the Catholics did. They arrived here around 1620 and started building
the church, which we're going to go over and see, is on the other side of the convento here.
And this was all intact until 1680
when the pueblos rose up in revolt and drove the Spanish out of New Mexico.
The priest here fled to Galisteo Pueblo during the onset of the revolt and was
captured and killed there with a couple of other priests.
The people of San Marcos apparently played a big part in taking over Santa Fe in 1680 and a
lot of them apparently moved into Santa Fe at that time. The pueblo started to be abandoned
when the spanish came back 12 years later in 1692...they found that San Marcos was
pretty much abandoned and the church was in ruins. A lot of the pueblo's in ruins.
After the Spanish took their retribution, the survivors then
ended up at modern day Santo Domingo and Cochiti,
where there are people today who trace their ancestry to this site - San Marcos.
You know, very nicely, the people of Cochiti contributed a fair amount of money to help
purchase and preserve the site. And they come here and visit regularly.
So this is the church that we're staying on. It was re-excavated about 20 years ago by
the American Museum of Natural History under the leadership of David Thomas.
He found a freshly plastered altar. He found evidence of a choir loft. Some of the walls had
been knocked over and were still intact...you could see the adobe bricks still intact.
One thing that's interesting about this part of the site is you find different kinds of
artifacts. You find ceramics that are made in the shape of European vessels like plates and
bowls and pitchers, but they're made in the same style as what the native people were
making their own ceramics out of. The shapes are different but they made them in the same style.
You know, the priest was very poor, and so they used the Native people to make everything and to
build everything...and of course one of the things that brought about the revolt is that they tried
to stamp out the Native religion and convert all of the people of San Marcos to Catholicism...and
that didn't work very well...and when they came back they gave up on that.
When this was all excavated, the archbishop came and visited and blessed it.
He was very, very moved by finding the remains of this church
and the altar actually was exposed at that time.
So this pueblo never did recover from the revolt, but I'm sure that people knew about it
and came here - descendants - but, you know, after they kind of trickled away, you know, it was
abandoned. And I think there's some reference in the Spanish records of trying to reestablish this,
but they just didn't do it. So when when the conservancy was organized in 1980 this
had been part of a ranch. This ruin had been abandoned since about 1700
and it had been subdivided...and they had been selling off lots 10 and 20 acre lots.
When they did the subdivision, they tried to give the ruin away...and nobody would take it...and
then a few years later, the Conservancy came along. There was one lot - this one over here to
my right - that was left for sale and we purchased it. So that was one of our very first purchases
of the Conservancy in 1980...and then a few years later we bought two more 20-acre lots...and
so we now have a little over 60 acres here which encompasses about 95% of the ruins and midden of
the site. So it was quite an ordeal ...and when we first bought it, there was a fence
here between our land and the rest of the site here. And so one of my happiest days in this
job is we came out here and took this fence down after we purchased the part on the other side.