Picuris Pueblo Field School Summer 2020


Joint program of the University of Arizona, Picuris Pueblo, SMU-Taos, and Barnard College, now accepting applications

Join us this summer for The Picuris Pueblo Archaeological Field School! Students will earn 6 hours of undergraduate or graduate credit over the course of 4-weeks through hands-on training in archaeological fieldwork in the beautiful Sangre de Cristo Mountains of northern New Mexico. Student participants will collaborate with archaeologists and tribal members at Picuris Pueblo, to gain experience in archaeological field survey, excavation, and collections management. In addition to ceramic and lithic identification, participants will also gain training in technical skills like GIS and geo-chemical analysis. In addition to daily fieldwork, participants partake in site visits, lectures, and tribal events to further their understanding of the ongoing indigenous history of New Mexico.

Project Location and Scope: Picuris Pueblo is arguably the oldest continuously occupied settlement in North America, having been the home of a Tiwa-speaking community from the 10th century to the present day. Archaeological evidence suggests the pueblo grew rapidly during the 14th and 15th centuries, and Spanish colonial records demonstrate that by the end of the 16th century Picuris was a major trade center connecting the resident communities of the Rio Grande valley to Apache bison-hunters on the Plains. During the 18th century, however, the Picuris community sharply declined, obscuring its former prominence. The efforts of field school participants will help to illuminate the nature and extent of Picuris’ role in the evolving economic networks of the northern Rio Grande during the period leading up to and directly preceding Spanish colonialism.


During the 2020 field season, our work will include pedestrian survey and mapping of the agricultural terraces located in Survey zone 1 to the southeast of the Pueblo. We will also investigate the many historic camps on the community’s periphery, utilized by Jicarilla Apache traders during the 16th-18th centuries. The goal of this survey project is to document the extent and content of Ancestral Picuris’ field system and refine our chronological understanding of agricultural intensification at the Pueblo.

Students will also have the opportunity to speak with tribal members regarding their agricultural practices as well as the nature of economic collaborations between Picuris and allied Apache bands.

Field Trips and Lectures: In addition to daily fieldwork, students will participate in a series of special events. Students will have the chance to tour many historically significant sites throughout northern New Mexico, including Pot Creek Pueblo (an ancestral Picuris village) and Taos Pueblo. We will also attend traditional dances, feasts, and festivals put on by the community at Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo. In the evenings, there will be several lectures by staff and guests as well as reading discussions on indigenous archaeology. These talks will cover the history and archaeology of the Jicarilla Apache, the Pueblo Revolt of 1680, and much more.

Accommodations and Transportation: Students will camp on the beautiful 423-acre campus of Southern Methodist University at Fort Bergwin in Taos. Students will have access to campus shower and toilets, laundry facilities, basketball, tennis, and volleyball courts, as well as the library and computer lab. Breakfast and dinner will be served in the Fort Bergwin dining hall and lunch will be eaten in the field.

Course Instructor: Lindsay M. Montgomery is an Assistant Professor in the School of Anthropology at the University of Arizona. Research interests include indigenous archaeology, equestrian nomads, inter-ethnic interaction, and landscape analysis. Dr. Montgomery is a principle investigator on the project and will direct the survey of Picuris Pueblo’s agricultural fields and the Jicarilla campgrounds.

Participating Instructors:

Richard Mermejo is the First War Chief of Picuris Pueblo. Mr. Mermejo will serve as the Tribal Archaeology Liaison for the field school and will monitor and guide all archaeological work conducted on Picuris Pueblo tribal lands.

Michael Adler is a Professor in the Anthropology Department at Southern Methodist University. Research interests include village aggregation, ethnic identity, and Pueblo material culture A.D. 1250-1450. Dr. Adler is a principle investigator on the project and will direct work on the Picuris museum collection and geophysical survey of the Picuris Convento.

Severin M. Fowles is an Associate Professor in the Anthropology Department at Barnard College and Columbia University. Research interests include religion, indigeneity, and cultural landscape among the northern Pueblos. Dr. Fowles is a principle investigator on the project and will direct excavations at the Dixon plaza.

Tuition and Fees: Field school registration is subject to normal University of Arizona tuition and fees for summer school, which are the same for in-state and  out-of-state students. In 2017, these fees were $424/ credit hour for undergraduates and $474/credit hour for graduate students.

Application and registration: Applications are available here. Enrollment is limited, and applications received by April 1, 2020 will receive priority. Once accepted, students may register for one 3-credit lab course and one 3-credit field course. The courses are ANTH 442a and 442b (undergraduate credit) and ANTH 542a and 542b (graduate credit). If you are not currently enrolled as a student at the University of Arizona, please check with your advisor about transferring UA course credit to your home institution.