Tinaja Pueblo (New Mexico)
The Conservancy recently acquired Tinaja Pueblo, a proto-Zuni site located near the foothills of the Zuni Mountains in the El Morro Valley of northwestern New Mexico. Named after the nearby abandoned Village of Tinaja that was established in the 1860s by several farming and ranching families, this thirteenth-century masonry pueblo has more than 130 rooms. A large, associated stone roomblock is situated on a small mesa about thirty feet above the valley floor, and several smaller roomblocks were built around the base of the mesa.
The gated subdivision of El Morro Ranches surrounds the forty-acre tract containing Tinaja Pueblo on three sides. The Village of Tinaja served as a stopping place for travelers and pioneers during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, but by 1940 it was deserted, with just a few stone foundations and a small cemetery remaining.
Archaeologist Leslie Spier first recorded Tinaja Pueblo in 1917, but it wasn’t until the 1970s that test excavations were conducted there by the Cibola Archaeological Research Project, directed by the noted archaeologist Patty Jo Watson. The Cibola archaeologists were able to obtain tree ring cutting dates from beams of A.D. 1270 and 1284, indicating that construction of the pueblo took place during that time. A few excavated rooms can be seen on the site today, which were probably left uncovered by the Cibola archaeologists.
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