La Cienega Pithouse Village

The La Cienega Pithouse Village is located atop a small mesa

inside a bend on the left bank of the Santa Fe River directly

above the river.

It is a multi-structure site consisting of surface roomblocks and pit structures Basalt blocks constitute the main building material, and there are several roomblocks with possible plaza areas. The pit structures were probably a combination of domestic and ceremonial subterranean La Cienega Pithouse Villageconstructions. Most of the pottery visible on the surface indicates a Developmental Period site (100-1200 AD). Multiple petroglyph panels and some possible prehistoric trails are present along the mesa rim. Structures are concentrated on the highest area of the mesa top. Extensive views in 360 degrees around the structures exist, including the Cerros del Rio and Tetilla Peak, Los Cerrillos, Cerro Seguro and mesas to the north, as well as the river valley below on the west, and the plains to the east. Archaeologists have estimated the site may have as many as 250 rooms. The site is one of few known Developmental Period sites in Santa Fe County, and is a particularly large complex.

Ceramics and structure types found at LA 166 indicate early Puebloan (Developmental) occupation. Roomblocks are manifest as rubble mounds and basalt cobble alignments, with artifact concentrations or middens generally adjacent to the structures; the actual number of roomblocks is difficult to determine accurately because they can be interpreted as separate rooms or as contiguous “arms” of room complexes, depending on the amount of surface material apparent. Pit structures recorded appear to be generally 10m+ in diameter, based on surface estimates. Based on the seeming large size of the pit structures, some may be ceremonial.