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Things To Do On An Idle Friday

October 7, 2011 at 9:33 pm

I visited an archeological dig a couple miles from my house this afternoon. 

After a lovely crepe lunch on the Plaza, I visited my friends Jim Moore and Pat Rogers, who are working on a dig just a minute walk from the La Fonda Inn; their current work is part of the archeological survey required before a building restoration can take place downtown.   Jim is an archeologist who has worked for the state of New Mexico for decades.  He's a fascinating guy to talk to, extremely knowledgable and terrific at conveying his knowledge.  Pat is a corrnerstone of our little SF/fandom community here in northern New Mexico, but she has had an avid love of archeology forever, and she can swing a pick like nobody's business.

(Prior to working on the Santa Fe Plaza in the chilly October rain, the crew did a dig at Spaceport America.  I love the image of archeologists digging up ancient pottery on a site where spaceships will someday land.  How cool is that?  Less cool are the helish working conditions they enduring while on the dig.  Backbreaking manual labor during high summer in southern NM?  No thanks.)

The dig is enclosed inside a tiny chain link fence, almost like a cage.  I had to suppress the urge to throw peanuts at them; I never did find a sign that said "Please Do Not Feed the Archeologists," but I think they need one.  I'm told they've been known to bite unruly visitors, too.  I kept my fingers to myself.

It was hard to find Pat at first because she was standing in a pit almost as deep as she is tall.  She looked like Kilroy

But it was really cool to see the various layers in her pit, layers of soil and soot and stone and clay, mixed with animal bones and bits of pottery and who knows what else.  Pat had dug well into the past, probably into layers that pre-dated the Pueblo Revolt of 1680.

Jim was working close to where they had uncovered an original road of rough cobbles—which lined up perfectly with Otero Road, just a few yards away, and which is (apparently) known to be one of the oldest roads in Santa Fe.   He also told me that they had found samples of Chinese porcelain in some of the test pits.  Apparently the porcelain traveled from China to the Philippines, and then from the Philippines to Mexico (but only one galleon per year!) and then from somewhere on the Mexican coast up to Santa Fe via pack mule train.  Even cooler?  The ceramic was probably already a century old when it left China. 

All this almost literally in the shadow of the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Francis.  Having read some Willa Cather when I was in high school, that tickles me.

 

Comments

Tengland October 8, 2011 at 5:03 pm
Why was Friday idle? Anyhow, this dig seems to have impressed both you and Ms. Snodgrass, so it must be really cool (although you both have the same jokes about not feeding archaeologists, though that's probably not a good idea in any care). And picturing Pat in a trench deep as she is tall is a hoot. Otero Steet is where my once-place of employment sits, so I have a pretty good picture of what you're talking about, although I didn't realize it might have continued beyon Palaca Ave. Many of the old photos of SF show an adobe church where the cathedral sits now, so the street might have connected there. When Marion Hall was built as, or turned into, a TB sanitarium, the path down the center of Cathedral Park was a road that looped around in front of the hall so patients didn't have to walk far. The area is deep in history, and it sounds like Jim & Pat & company are delving into it.
Patricia October 8, 2011 at 6:26 pm
We were thinking that what we actually needed is a Tip Jar that says: "Please give money to feed the Archaeologists. Please don't make them mad as they have large shovels and pickaxes and can be prone to fits of madness." ;-)
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