New Mexicans Invited To Watch Archaeologists Hand Excavate Kuaua Pueblo Site

Excavations of Kuaua Ruins at Coronado Historic Site. Courtesy/NM Historic Sites, Department of Cultural Affairs
Painted kiva at Coronado Historic Site. Photo by John Cutler. Courtesy/NM Historic Sites, Department of Cultural Affairs



  • Dig Expected to Produce Thousands of Artifacts Dating to the 1500s

Bernalillo – New Mexicans have a rare opportunity to watch archaeologists on a live dig at the Coronado Historic Site off U.S. 550 in Bernalillo. The Dig Kuaua! hand-excavation of the Kuaua Pueblo will be performed by the Office of Archaeological Studies May 15 through June 30. Members of the Friends of Coronado Historic Site group can even participate alongside the archaeologists. 

“This dig has the potential of yielding hundreds if not thousands of artifacts,” said Matthew J. Barbour, regional manager, Coronado and Jemez Historic Sites. “The hand-excavation will focus test units throughout Kuaua Pueblo and the surrounding refuse piles called ‘middens.’ Architecture dating to the 1500s also will be unearthed.”
Visitors to Coronado Historic Site will have the opportunity to interact with the archaeologists as they conduct the active dig. Docent led tours of the archaeological excavation and the painted kiva will occur on the hour. Visitors are encouraged to come back regularly during the dig, as interpretations of the site change as more is uncovered. 
Friends of Coronado Historic Site members are invited to participate in Dig Kuaua!. Tasks available to volunteers include sorting artifacts, screening sediments, ceramic analysis, and light digging under the supervision of a professional archaeologist. 
Individuals who would like to participate in the dig can do so by joining the Friends of Coronado Historic Site group. Those interested in joining the Friends of Coronado Historic Site group may do so by filling out the form available at Annual membership in the Friends of Coronado Historic Site is: $25 seniors: $30 individuals; $35 senior couples; $40 couples/families; $150 supporters. Members receive free admission to Coronado Historic Site and many activities, such as demonstrations and lectures. Members receive the Friends’ quarterly newsletter and email notices of programs, trips, and other extraordinary events. 
Friends of Coronado Historic Site group members who want to participate in Dig Kuaua! should contact coordinator Ethan Ortega to add your email address to the volunteer list. List subscribers will receive timely updates on the dig and opportunities to work at the site. Coordinator Ortega can be reached at 505.867.5351 or
About Coronado Historic Site:
Coronado Historic Site is open 8:30am-5:00PM – Wednesday-Monday (Closed Tuesdays). Admission: $5. Free to NM residents on the first Sunday of each month. Children 16 and under are always free. Wednesday admission is free to New Mexico Seniors with ID. A combination ticket, good for admission to both Jémez and Coronado Historic Sites is available for $7.
Coronado Historic Site and the ruins of Kuaua Pueblo are located just minutes north of Albuquerque (off of I-25, Exit 242) in Bernalillo.  In 1540, Francisco Vásquez de Coronado, with 500 soldiers and 2,000 Indian allies from New Spain, entered the Rio Grande valley somewhere near this site searching for the fabled Seven Cities of Gold. Instead of treasure, he found a dozen villages inhabited by prosperous native farmers. These newly “discovered” people spoke Tiwa, and their ancestors had already been living in this area for thousands of years.