Jemez Historic Site

Dig Giusewa

Dig Giusewa September Update

The Dig Giusewa public archaeology program was established to address long held questions about the Jemez people involving their origins and how their lives changed after the arrival of the Spanish. To accomplish this, New Mexico Historic Site Staff, Friends of Coronado Historic Site, and Jemez Pueblo Tribal Members are excavating a small section of Jemez Historic Site’s Native American village, Giusewa Pueblo.

The program is now in its sixth week of operation. Volunteers have exposed the east, west, and south walls of a large pueblo room. The walls are constructed of stone mortared with earth and sealed with an adobe plaster. A thin layer of gypsum has been applied to the walls to paint the room white.

Based upon fragments of adobe and architectural debris in the room fill, it appears that the volunteers are currently excavating through the roof/floor of the upper story. Pieces of a large utility ware jar, candlestick holder, large metate, and three projectile points were collected. These likely represent items stored on the upper floor at the time of collapse.

The points included two obsidian Pueblo Side-notched Projectile Points with the concave bases typical of the “Pecos Style.” These are commonly found at Native American archaeological sites dating after AD 1300. A third Pedernal Chert point is best classified as a Tularosa Corner-notched Projectile Point. This point type dates much earlier than Giusewa Pueblo (ca. 100 BC –AD 900). It is derivative of the San Pedro and Cienega Clusters and often viewed as diagnostic of the Mogollon peoples which settled Southern New Mexico.

The presence of this point at Giusewa may seem strange, but Dr. Richard Ford documented several examples at Jemez Cave during his dissertation research. University of New Mexico Professor Bruce Huckell postulated that the technology appears to be linked to the spread of agriculture out of the San Pedro Valley in Southeast Arizona. Jemez Cave boasts the earliest evidence of agriculture in the Jemez Mountains and Giusewa Pueblo is roughly one mile from Jemez Cave. Early Mogollon farmers may have occupied the Jemez Valley during the late Archaic Period, but the point’s presence at Jemez Historic Site suggests a later occupant of Giusewa visited the cave, picked it up, and re-utilized it as an arrowhead in the 1600s.

Interestingly, there is no evidence that architectural failure was caused by fire. Spanish documents and archaeological evidence from Giusewa’s Franciscan Mission of San Jose de los Jemez indicates that it was burned in the Jemez Revolt of 1623. The uprising resulted in the abandonment of the village and large-scale war that resulted in 3,000 Jemez casualties over the next three to five years. Ultimately, the Spanish soldiers pacified the area and missionaries forced the Jemez to resettle the village by 1628.

It appears that the room was not destroyed in the initial fire, but shortly thereafter. It could have been destroyed during the war or in the subsequent resettlement. Conclusive evidence of what occurred will likely be encountered when excavators reach the floor of the structure within the next week. You are invited to come see these discoveries as they occur!

Dig Giusewa is ongoing every Thursday, Friday and Saturday. The public is welcome to tour the archaeological excavations and peruse the recovered artifacts on display in the Visitor Center. Jemez Historic Site is located at 18160 Highway 4 in Jemez Springs, New Mexico, and is open 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM. Admittance is $5.00 per adult. Children and Jemez tribal members are free. For more information call 575-829-3530 or visit

Exploring Jemez Origins and Acculturation at Jemez Historic Site

San Jose Mission Church. Photo courtesy of Richard Hasbrouck_.jpg

Over the past one hundred years, the majority of the archaeological and historical research at Jemez Historic Site has focused on the Spanish mission. Much less is known about the Jemez peoples living in the surrounding Pueblo of Giusewa. Yet, Giusewa is among the earliest and longest occupied villages in the Jemez Mountains. It is an ideal place to explore Jemez settlement and origins. Moreover, as a mission site, Giusewa represents the location of direct and prolonged contact with European religion and culture allowing researchers to explore themes of accommodation and conflict.

Many questions regarding the village and the people living there remain. Did the people of Giusewa originate in the Rio Grande or the Four Corners? Or do the Jemez represent a mix of peoples from both areas? How does this fit within Jemez oral history? Did the village burn, along with the Spanish Mission, during the Jemez Revolt of 1623? What European products were adopted by the Jemez at Giusewa during the early 17th century? These are some of the questions set to be addressed this August.

Rooms excavated at Jemez Historic Site in 1965, courtesy of the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture - Laboratory of Anthropology_.jpg

In partnership with the Friends of Coronado Historic Site and the Pueblo of Jemez, New Mexico Historic Sites is pleased to announce a new program at Jemez Historic Site, entitled “Dig Giusewa.” Running every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday between August 16 and October 6, archaeologists, tribal members, and volunteers will work to systematically excavate a five-by-five meter area just north of the Visitor Center. The goal will be to document and preserve a series of pueblo rooms for public interpretation at the historic site, while recovering thousands of artifacts and material for analysis.

Visitors can tour the excavations on their self-guided visit through Giusewa Pueblo and San Jose Mission or opt for a more structured experience with ranger-led tours at 10 AM and 2 PM daily. Notable cultural materials, such as complete vessels and projectile points, will available for public viewing inside the visitor center. Regular admission rates apply.

Afterwards, the architecture and artifacts will be put to work answering questions of Jemez origins and acculturation. These investigations will guide new interpretative exhibits both inside and outside the visitor center at Jemez Historic Site, including a fully restored portion of the village. The results will also be published in a number of public interest articles and a special report from New Mexico Historic Sites.


You can participate! Support archaeological research at Jemez Historic Site by joining the “Dig Giusewa” team. Friends of Coronado Historic Site members and Jemez Pueblo tribal members can assist with excavations, screening sediments, artifact processing, and analysis.  Participation is limited. Get your application in today.


Not already a Friends of Coronado Historic Site member? Join by visiting In addition to the chance of participating in the dig, you will receive our quarterly newsletter and opportunities to attend numerous programs, trips, and other special events throughout the year.  All financial contributions to the Friends of Coronado Historic Site go directly towards preservation and interpretation at Coronado and Jemez Historic Sites.


Starting August 16, come see what is buried beneath your feet at “Dig Giusewa!”

Jemez Historic Site is located at 18160 Highway 4 in Jemez Springs, New Mexico, and is open five days a week, Wednesday through Sunday, from 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM. Admittance is $5.00 per adult. There is never a charge for children. Jemez Historic Site is free to New Mexico seniors on Wednesday and all New Mexico residents on the first Sunday of every month.