The Arroyo Hondo Pueblo project began in 1969, soon after Douglas Schwartz became president of the School for Advanced Research (then the School of American Research). The School, which once was a thriving institution, had contracted back to almost nothing. During his initial interview with the School’s Board of Managers, he suggested they consider a fresh approach to running the School. This would include establishing an innovative center for advanced study with a coordinated series of programs along with financial objectives. Schwartz also proposed the development of a new campus, a business plan to fund all the new efforts, and the creation of an endowment to foster their long-term support.
To reenergize and redirect the School’s new programs, he recommended the School host a yearly group of advanced resident scholars and establish a permanent series of advanced seminars. The resident scholars and the seminars would produce a succession of scholarly publications. In addition, Schwartz recommended continuing the School’s long tradition of archaeological research.
In the spring of 1970, Schwartz proposed to the Board of Managers that the School conduct a preliminary examination of Arroyo Hondo Pueblo to determine whether it was suitable for a major archaeological effort. (The School owned the Arroyo Hondo site.) After a discussion of what might be involved in such an effort and how it would be initiated, the Board agreed with the proposal.
To fund this initial investigation of the pueblo, Schwartz discussed the idea with School board member Marshall McCune and his wife Perrine. Schwartz described the need for a preliminary survey and test excavations to determine the potential for a comprehensive excavation. This initial work would provide critical information for a potential grant proposal -- including a detailed budget -- that might be submitted to a major funding source. Mr. and Mrs. McCune expressed interest in the project and contributed $25,000 to pay for the site’s initial exploration.
The preliminary examination took place in June of 1970. The work included test excavations “both to sample the site in order to determine its potential and to test various archaeological procedures in order to gain information about the time and manpower needed to achieve its research goals” (Schwartz 1971). This testing included surface clearing of two roomblocks, the excavation of two adobe rooms, the examination of three masonry rooms, and the excavation of two plaza trenches. In addition, a surface survey outlined the extent of the pueblo and collected enough pottery to determine date of the site and the location and relative size of its eight kiva depressions.
The survey found that Arroyo Hondo Pueblo was a 1,000 room, 14th century settlement that had grown rapidly. Schwartz concluded the site would be ideal for a multiyear, multidisciplinary archaeological project, and excavating the site had the potential for making an important contribution to Southwestern archaeology. The School’s board agreed and authorized Schwartz to develop a major grant proposal. The board also approved covering a portion of Schwartz’s salary to cover the time he would devote to the project.
Schwartz then talked about the proposed project with John Yellen of the National Science Foundation and with staff members of the National Geographic Society. Both the National Science Foundation and the National Geographic Society had supported Schwartz’s earlier multiyear excavations at the Grand Canyon. Based on these discussions, a grant proposal was submitted to the National Science Foundation requesting research funds to cover a three-year project at Arroyo Hondo. At the same time, a proposal was made to the National Geographic Society to cover the costs of all photographic supplies and film processing, as well the occasional services of a National Geographic cinematographer to help eventually produce a documentary film about the project.
In 1971 the National Science Foundation approved a grant of $179,105 (GS-28001) to support the project. It was a substantial grant for that time. The National Geographic Society also agreed to provide support. After fieldwork began, new research needs emerged (including extending the length of the project). An additional proposal was submitted to the National Science Foundation, and it eventually resulted in an additional grant of $145,140 (GS-42181).
As the project progressed, the potential for a documentary film on the project became clear. A more formal proposal for a film was submitted to the National Geographic Society in 1975, entitled, “Archeological Research at Arroyo Hondo Pueblo.” When this collaborative film was completed, it was first shown at Washington D.C’s Constitution Hall, where 3,000 members of the National Geographic Society heard Schwartz narrate “The Rio Grande’s Pueblo Past.” The film also was shown in a National Geographic Society program at the American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting in Denver, where Margret Mead introduced Schwartz. The film became extremely useful in telling the Arroyo Hondo Pueblo story and in generating additional support during later stages of the work.
After nearly a decade of fieldwork, artifact preparation, laboratory analysis and writing, manuscripts on the Arroyo Honda research were completed. One of the project’s major objectives had always been to publish a series of monographs that would cover all aspects of the research. In working toward this goal, a proposal to support a multivolume Arroyo Hondo Pueblo publication series was submitted to the National Science Foundation in 1977. This resulted in a grant of $67,065 (BNS76-82510). Later, additional funds for individual monographs were contributed by the Atlantic Richfield Corporation and by Marianne and J. Michael O’Shaughnessy.
Another project goal was to permanently preserve the extensive collection of material from the Arroyo Hondo Pueblo excavation, and to make it easily available for future study and research. To further this object in 1995, the School made a proposal to the National Endowment for the Humanities entitled “Preservation of Collections from Arroyo Hondo Pueblo, New Mexico.” This resulted in a grant of $153,723 to cover the cost of constructing a permanent, climate-controlled Arroyo Hondo Pueblo repository to hold the 350,000 items excavated. The grant also supported construction of an adjacent laboratory that would hold all field notes, manuscripts and related materials, along with space allocated for the study of all these items.
There had now been the completion of excavations, research, writing, monograph publication, documentary film, repository and laboratory. The next step was to use the newest technology to make the Arroyo Hondo Pueblo research as widely available as possible. To further this goal in 2012, Schwartz conceived of a comprehensive website that would cover all aspects of the Arroyo Hondo Pueblo project from its initiation to the use of its results in scholarly and popular literature. The development of this website has been made possible by the support of the Sander’s Foundation, Barbara and Eric Dobkin and the First National Bank of Santa Fe, New Mexico.
One section of the website includes a series of newly composed essays that reexamine the original Arroyo Hondo Pueblo research in light of current research. These essays cover a broad range of topics from climate change, conflict, paleopathology, rock art, paleobotany, the later prehistory of the northern Rio Grande Valley and Mesoamerican influences in the northern Southwest. To fashion these essays, scholars who have worked on each of these specialties write a preliminary essay that is circulated to a group of other scholars who are familiar with the Arroyo Hondo Pueblo research. These drafts are discussed during meetings at the School for Advanced Research. From these conversations, a final draft is composed that becomes part of the website’s section on “Broader, Contemporary Issues.” The $20,000 for this effort comes from a Bureau of Land Management transfer to the School for projects relating to Arroyo Hondo Pueblo.
In summary, during 45 years of work on Arroyo Hondo Pueblo from 1970 to 2015, more than $655,000 was raised to support the project. In addition to major backing from the School for Advanced Research, funding came from 10 entities, including two private families, three federal agencies, two corporations, two private foundations and the National Geographic Society. We are deeply grateful to all of these individuals and organizations for being part of this comprehensive, innovative effort.