The Salinas area is situated in central New Mexico at the eastern edge of the Pueblo world. To the east lie the Plains and to the west, the Rio Grande Valley. Our research encompasses the period AD 1100–1600. The Salinas case illustrates how regional-scale processes engender transformations at the local level. Unlike other parts of the Rio Grande region, Salinas was not the destination for large numbers of migrants. In fact, demographic data we have collected document a remarkably stable population.

Nonetheless, in synchrony with large-scale immigration into the Rio Grande Valley proper in the late 1200s, Salinas residents moved from dispersed jacal (slab-footed, wattle-and-daub structures) settlements into a series of enclosed masonry pueblos, and adopted components of a ritual system introduced from the west. In the early 1400s, again in concert with Rio Grande populations, Salinas people abandoned these smaller villages and nucleated into a few, large, multi-room block pueblos. Several decades of research in both the small and large masonry pueblos have provided comprehensive ceramic, floral, and faunal databases relevant to the proposed project.

The Salinas case has a demographic scale similar to other cases, but exhibits immense robustness. From the jacal villages to the multi-room block nucleated pueblos (a 500-year period), people lived and farmed in the same places on the landscape and made the same kind of Chupadero Black-on-white pottery. Although the demographic size of the village unit increased in the 1400s, there simply is not the scale of transformation in this area documented for several other areas in this project. Thus, Salinas is an interesting baseline against which to evaluate the factors that we propose are responsible for transformation elsewhere in the US Southwest.




The Spainish mission of Quarai was built in the 1600s on the site of a pueblo initially constructed in the 1300s.


A Chupadero Black-on-white jar. This homogeneous pottery type was made primarily in the Salinas region and widely distributed for 500 years (ca. AD 1100-1600)


Related Publications by Research Team

Huntley, D.L., K.A. Spielmann, J.A. Habicht-Mauche, C. Herhahn, and A.R. Flegal. (2007) Local Recipes or Distant Commodities? Lead Isotope and Chemical Compositional Analysis of Glaze Paints from the Salinas Pueblos, New Mexico. Journal of Archaeological Science 34:1135-1147.

Spielmann, Katherine A. (editor) 1991 Farmers, Hunters, and Colonists: Interaction between the Southwest and Southern Plains. University of Arizona Press, Tucson.

Spielmann, Katherine A., Jeannette Mobley-Tanaka, and James Potter. (2007) Style and Resistance in the Seventeenth Century Salinas Province. American Antiquity 71(4):621-647.

Spielmann, Katherine A., Margaret Nelson, Scott Ingram, and Matthew A. Peeples. (2011) Sustainable Small-Scale Agriculture in Semi-Arid Environments. Ecology and Society 16(1):26. [download pdf]