National Register Summary

By Tamara Stewart

In 2006, the Arroyo Hondo Pueblo site was listed on the National Register of Historic Places of the United States Department of the Interior, National Park Service. Tamara Stewart, a staff member of the Archaeological Conservancy, wrote the application for this nomination. Her application, which was based on the based on the monograph series and special reports, includes a masterful, well-illustrated overview of the research results.

At each stage of the Arroyo Hondo Pueblo archaeological project, the evolving results were summarized in various reports [Schwartz: 1971, 1972a, 1972b, 1973, 1974, 1977, 1979, 1980a, 1980b, 1981a, 1981b, 1984, 1991, 1993a, 1993b, 2005, 2007, 2011]. The project also produced nine monographs on major aspects of the research, with 37 appended reports on specialized topics.

Stewart’s nomination summary begins with an overview of the pueblo’s development and decline -- plus a substantial description of the site’s physical and environmental setting based on Kelly’s (1980) ecology monograph. This is followed by an overview of the climate and environmental changes that would have been experienced by the pueblo’s residents, drawing from the Arroyo Hondo volume on dendroclimatology by Rose, Dean, and Robinson (1981). The section on the pueblo’s architecture is based on the work of Creamer (1993), includes notes on methods of construction and descriptions of residential and ceremonial rooms, plazas and kivas -- including their features and functions.

Stewart reviews the pueblo’s chronology, working from more than 300 tree-ring dates obtained during the excavation, along with clues from the architectural sequence. Based on paleobotanical research by Wetterstrom (1986), Stewart also considers the interrelated issues of food, diet, periods of famine and population change. This is augmented by a review of Palkovich’s (1980) research on the pueblo’s skeletal remains and paleopathology, which highlights the presence of malnutrition, iron deficiency anemia and the death of 50 percent of Arroyo Hondo’s children prior to the age of 5. Palkovich calculated that the average age of adult death was 34. Stewart then summarizes research on how land was used in and around Arroyo Hondo using Dickson’s (1973) work on the prehistoric settlements in the region of Arroyo Hondo region and Lang and Harris’s (1984) description of the fauna and its distribution within the pueblo’s territory.

Following her detailed summary of the Arroyo Hondo research results, Stewart reviews previous research at the pueblo, including the earlier unpublished excavations by Nels Nelson (1915). She then gives a summation of the comprehensive 1970s excavations, directed by Douglas Schwartz. In a closing “Statement of Significance,” Stewart speaks of Arroyo Hondo Pueblo as “at the forefront of a trend in the northern Rio Grande region toward the aggregation of large numbers of people at single, rapidly constructed settlements, which may have helped stimulate a settlement pattern and sociopolitical organization that characterized the region up until historic times.”

Download:  Arroyo Hondo Pueblo National Register.pdf