Jemez Historic Site

Dig Giusewa: Exploring Jemez Origins and Acculturation at Jemez Historic Site

March 20, 2018


(Bernalillo, New Mexico) -- Starting Aug. 16, come see what is buried beneath your feet at “Dig Giusewa!”

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 Aug. 16 and Oct. 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 site, while recovering approximately five to 10 thousand artifacts and samples for analysis, “said Matthew J. Barbour, Regional Manager, Coronado and Jemez Historic Sites.

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 a.m. and 2 p.m. daily. Notable cultural materials, such as complete vessels and projectile points, will available for public viewing inside the visitor center. Regular admission rates apply.

Over the past one hundred years, the majority of the archaeological and historical research at Jemez Historic Site has focused on the Spanish Mission of San Jose de los Jemez. 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, along with the Spanish Mission, burn 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.

“Afterward, the architecture and artifacts will be put to work answering questions of Jemez origins and acculturation,” Barbour said. “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 help! 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 sign up to assist with excavations, screening sediments, artifact processing and analysis at Participation is limited.  

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.

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.

Link to video about Dig Giusewa:

About New Mexico Historic Sites: On March 14, 1931, the New Mexico Historic Site system was established by an Act for the Preservation of the Scientific Resources of New Mexico, to "declare by public proclamation that historic and prehistoric structures and other objects of scientific interest that are situated upon the lands owned or controlled by the State of New Mexico, shall be state monuments, and may reserve as a part thereof such parcels of land as may be necessary to the proper care and management of the objects to be protected." Under the direction of the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs, six sites are open to the public: Coronado, Fort SeldenFort Stanton, Fort Sumner Historic Site/Bosque Redondo Memorial, Jemez, and Lincoln. The Los Luceros Historic Property is open to the public during scheduled events and by appointment (505) 476-1130.

In 2004, the J. Paul Taylor Family bequeathed the Barela-Reynolds House and Property on the Mesilla Plaza to the Department of Cultural Affairs.  Still serving as J. Paul Taylor’s private home, the property will become a Historic Site after his passing. Events, news releases and images about activities at New Mexico Historic Sites, and other Department of Cultural Affairs divisions can be accessed at​

Related Photos

Partial Jemez Black on White soup plate, courtesy of the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture Laboratory of Anthropology.
Rooms excavated at Jemez Historic Site in 1965, courtesy of the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture Laboratory of Anthropology.
Bell tower at Jemez Historic Site, photo by Nika Sunduram
San Jose Mission Church. Photo courtesy of Richard Hasbrouck.

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