SANTA FE Theo Raven may have found a home for the artifacts excavated from beneath her downtown Santa Fe building.
They are hardly spectacular, but what you would expect in a city at least four centuries old: Chipped stone, animal bones and teeth, scraps of deteriorating leather and newspaper, shards from Pueblo Indian pots and other ceramics, locks of hair or fur, nails, spikes and other corroded metal objects, pieces of glass, beads, a piece of aluminum foil with a piñon shell inside. The state Office of Archaeological Studies believes the items could be used in educational exhibits.
I really dont want them, Raven said recently as she went through two boxes of the items on the back patio of her Tesuque home. Its time to clear things out.
The items were recovered six years ago during an archaeological dig beneath Ravens building at the northwest corner of Water Street and Don Gaspar Avenue, which houses Doodlets and the Sign of the Pampered Maiden on its ground floor. The three-story adobe building, dating to the 1880s, once was a hotel rumored to house prostitutes.
In early 2006, Raven hired Lockwood Construction to begin a project to turn the top two floors of the old building into three two-level condominiums. Crocker & Associates architectural renovation plan involved reinforcing the adobe walls with steel supports held in place by 22 helical anchors large corkscrew-like devices twisted into the ground, each requiring holes about 13 to 16 feet deep. The borings turned up bones, triggering an investigation.
It was scary as hell because I had to borrow a ton of money for that project a lot and they found a bone, and, of course, they had to report it, and I was terrified, Raven said. I thought, Oh, my God! because had it turned out to be something special, they would have had to postpone the project and go on and on and on with it. It turned out to be an animal bone that had washed down. So that saved my life.
Contract archaeologists Tom McIntosh and Bettina Kurues quickly determined that the bones were not human, but from cows, pigs, sheep and goats probably from a butcher shop that faced San Francisco Street in the 1880s when waste was dumped in the back. But the excavations also turned up pre-Columbian pottery washed down by the Rio Chiquito the stream that once followed what is now Water Street plus thousands of artifacts from subsequent centuries.
McIntosh said most of the artifacts were from the Territorial era (1846 to 1912), mostly from after the coming of the railroad in 1880. Much of the pottery, he said, is transitional Tewa polychrome, post-1700s through the 1800s, painted pottery used as tourist items. Since there were so many artifacts I mean, thousands of them we recommended that any future work be monitored by archaeological personnel.
David Snow, an archaeologist who analyzed the ceramics from the site, once the home of early 19th-century real-estate tycoon Don Gaspar Ortiz y Alarid, said the building was started in 1883 as the National Hotel, which in the 20th century became the Normandie Hotel, then the Montezuma Hotel. The story is that during the 30s, it turned into a whorehouse, he said. During that period, it was rumored to host a number of ladies of ill repute.