Archaeology in Tucson Newsletter
Top: Objects like the "Joe Place Sword" (49 cm long) provide valu-
able clues to studies (photo
Madsen). Center: One of 24 iron klers (4.5 cm long) found near
Christened "Coronado's Cereal Bowl" by the Clifton Chamber of
major importance to mer- chants in Sonora and to religious leaders who were eager to have a shorter route to the pueblo region and to Santa Fe. As early as 1744, there were reports of a pass through the San Francisco Mountains link- ing the Gila River region to the eastern margins of the Colorado Plateau. Because it was perceived as the most likely road between Sonora and the province of Nuevo Mexico, an expedition was mounted under the command of Captain Jose de Zuniga of the Tucson Presidio. Zuniga left Tucson on April 9, 1795, reached Zuni May 1, and was back in Tucson May 29 (see map).
Zuñiga’s journal provides explicit descriptions of the "beat- en paths" and landmarks observed on his way to Zuni, many of which are still visible on the landscape today. Yet portions of the 1795 trail still need to be identified and research is now focused on looking for these potential trail segments in the vicinity of reported artifacts. Both remote sensing technology and archaeological survey will be employed.
The map shows my overall artifact inventory. A few of the more spectacular items are described in more detail. A spontoon blade (a short pike or spear) found in Carlisle Canyon, Grant County, New Mexico has been dated to the last quarter of the eighteenth century by Brinckerhoff and Chamberlain. Carlisle Canyon is in close proximity to, if not directly on, the route followed by Zuñiga. The "Joe Place Sword" was found on the Gila River near the mouth of Carlisle Canyon. In addition, a copper bowl was found in a rock crevice with 24 iron tinklers (or buttons) from a horse bit, and a rotting velvet bolero with silver braid. In an adjacent rock shelter is a charcoal drawing of a person sitting atop a horse on what appears to be a high-back saddle. These finds overlook a pass that links San Simon Creek to the Gila River at Duncan, along the route most likely taken by Zuñiga in the year 1795.
These artifacts cannot be linked directly to the Zuñiga expedition. There are a number of other documented military expeditions that reached the Duncan area both before and after Zuniga's journey. In addition to Zuñiga and Coronado, at least two other parties traveled between the Gila River and Zuni during Spanish times. These multiple journeys make definitive
Commerce, this copper bowl (
wide) was found near Duncan, Arizona in 1928. Donated to the Arizona State Museum by the Thomas Dees family (photo by Ken Matesich, courtesy of Arizona State Museum, No. 99788).
linking of indi- vidual artifacts to specific past sources almost impossible. However, con- tinued informa- tion gathering about individual artifacts that date to Spanish Colonial times at least has the potential to yield enough clues to allow the patterns on maps to be interpreted with greater clarity. And even more optimistically, they may ultimately lead to the kinds of definitive archaeological evidence that might occur at campsites made by large parties such as the Coronado or Zuñiga expeditions.
To achieve these goals, I need help. If you have Spanish- Colonial artifacts from southeastern Arizona or southwestern New Mexico, or know someone who might, I would enjoy talking with you. Interviews can be confidential, but I would appreciate the opportunity to photograph and document objects that might be important to this trail study. You can contact me at the Arizona State Museum, University of Arizona, 520/621-2096.
Brinckerhoff, Sidney B., and Pierce A. Chamberlain 1972 Spanish Military Weapons in Colonial America, 1700- 1821. Stackpole Books, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
Hammond, George P. 1931 The Zuñiga Journal, Tucson to Santa Fe. The Opening of a Spanish Trade Route, 1788- 1795. New Mexico Historical Review 6:40-65.
Thomas, Alfred B. 1932 Forgotten Frontiers, A Study of the Spanish Indian Policy of Don Juan Bautista de Anza Governor of New Mexico 1777-1787. University of Oklahoma Press, Norman.