Monday, March 30, 2015

Guadalupe Ruins

I visited the Guadalupe Ruins west of Cuba, New Mexico with a group assembled by Mary Beth Hermans at the UNM Maxwell Museum of Anthropology.  The ruins are located on top of a small mesa south of Cabezon Peak.

The remaining low walls of the residential structures show masonry construction techniques which will be familiar to anyone who has visited the ruins at Chaco Canyon.

Two fairly large kivas have been excavated and roofed with corrugated metal sheets.

The kivas would orginally have had large log beams holding up the roof, but no trace of them remains.

There were about two dozen people in the group, all about my age, and all rather fit and well-informed about the archaeological context of the site.

Tom Windes provided a running commentary on the site as we toured it.  He had done extensive survey work at Chaco and was able to provide good insights into the way that the Guadalupe site fit into the bigger picture of the pre-puebloan culture.  This mesa location was originally occupied around 900 AD by the Anasazi.  It probably saw numerous abandonments and reoccupations due to the rigors of the climate.  The last residents came to the site around 1200 AD as migrants from Mesa Verde.  There are many largely unexplored house sites on the flats below the mesa.

On the way back out we stopped for a quick tour of the near-by ghost town of Guadalupe.  The site was first occupied by hispanic settlers around 1760.  That settlement may have been temporarily abandoned  due to pressure from the Navajo and Apache.  A second phase of hispanic settlement started up about 1860 and the little town remained viable into the 1940s.

Nasario Garcia lived as a child in a house just across the Rio Puerco from Guadalupe.  He has endless stories about the place and its residents which he has incorporated into about thirty books.

The town is still owned privately and there is some restoration work going on there, though it seems unlikely it will ever regain any of its former vitality.