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Archeology on a Rainy Friday

Yesterday I went into town on a chilly, grey day to treat myself to lunch at the crepe restaurant in the La Fonda hotel — spinach, chicken and mushroom crepe.  It was beyond delicious, but very rich.

Next I walked up the street to where my friends Jim Moore and Pat Rogers are digging a site.  Jim is a senior archeologist with the Museum of New Mexico.  When last he was out int he field he and his team were in the stinking desert in the middle of summer in southern N.M. working at the spaceport.  I love the juxtaposition of ancient arrow heads and pot sherds, and spaceships.

This time they get to work in the parking lot of the old St. Vincent Hospital, and Marion Hall, a wonderful building erected in 1910.  All the buildings are going to be renovated into a hotel, and the archeology had to be done.  Pat took us into Marion Hall and showed up this beautiful big room with a mosaic tile floor and a big fireplace and bay windows.  We agreed we have to hold  a Regency ball here once the renovations are finished.

Back outside the archeologists work inside a chain link cage, while people stood on the outside and gawked.  The archeologists are eager to give people information about the dig and their work, because this is also educational outreach.  Pat said they joke there should be a sign — Do Not Feed The Archeologists — They Bite.   but there is a way in, especially when you know the top guy.  

We found Pat in a pit almost as tall as herself (and she’s 6 feet tall).  She and Jim showed us the two distinct layers that produced the artifacts.  One dates to the early 18th century.  The other predates the Pueblo Revolt of 1688.  Up until the rains of the past week (naturally it’s raining now, it’s Balloon Fiesta) it took a pick to get through the soil, but now digging is easier, and more and more artifacts are appearing.

They have found pieces of Chinese pottery.  It made an interesting journey back in the 17th century.  There was robust trade between the Philippines and China.  When the Spanish conquered the Philippines they continued that trade.  Once a year a ship would sail from the Philippines to Mexico carrying luxury goods.  Those goods were then packed on mules and made the long journey up the Camino Real to Santa Fe.  Hence Chinese pottery in the high mountains of northern N.M.  In fact, the museum in the Palace of the Governors has a piece of Ming dynasty pottery.

In another pit we saw the cobbles from an old road.  It point directly at Otero street which is supposed to be the oldest street in Santa Fe.

There is also a hint they may have found something very exciting, but we’ll have to wait for the announcement about that.  I’ll give an update once it’s verified.

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