Patokwa Ruins

Patokwa (“Turquoise-moiety place”) is located on a low mesa above the confluence of the Jemez River and the Rio Guadalupe at about 5,800′.  It has been a dwelling site since at least circa 900 AD with pithouses and rudimentary structures.  The main pueblo structure of approximately 600 rooms was constructed in 1680 immediately after the Pueblo Revolt. As part of the revolt the the Jemez burned their current pueblo of Walatowa, where they had been required to live by the Spanish. The construction of Patokwa was clearly an attempt by the Jemez to return to a prior way of life, higher on the mesa tops.  Based upon room size and count, it probably housed between 600 and 900 persons. For a very detailed account of Patokwa, see “Revolt: An Archaeological History of Pueblo resistance and Revitalization in 17th Century New Mexico” by Matthew Liebmann, 2012. Great book.

Of the Jemez Pueblo Indian ruins in the Santa Fe National Forest, this one is by far the easiest to get to, and it has suffered for that.  It is literally adjacent to the back yards of several ranches in the area.  In point of fact, it was only incorporated into the national forest in recent times and had been private property.  As a result, substantial pot hunting has occurred, including bulldozed swaths.

Patokwa Ruins (From “Overview and Synthesis of the Archeology of the Jemez Provvince, New Mexico, by M. Elliot, 1986

On February 29, 2012, Jeri and I decided to try and visit Patokwa, and if we could find the route, Astialakwa.  The trick to both of these was crossing the Jemez River.  This time of year the river, while very cold, runs about 20-30 cubic feet per second.  In late Spring or Summer, it can swell to 300 cubic feet per second.  So now was the time.

The worst part of the hike – Crossing the mighty Jemez River

Getting to the mesa top was trivial and we soon saw the light colored area of the ruins off in the distance.  They didn’t look especially impressive.

Patokwa ruins in distance

The ruin walls had all collapsed into what looked like tall earth berms.  Due to their height, it is believed the pueblo may have been as tall as three stories.

Typical ruin wall segment

Using the schematic layout we had of Patokwa (shown above) we were able to find our way around and examine the various areas.  There are believed to have been a number of kivas, now reduced to sunken depressions in the ground.

Kiva depression in foreground, wall mounds in back

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this site was the ruins of  the San Diego del Monte Mission.  Its construction in 1694  was part of the “ransom” demanded by the Spaniards for the return of the captured Jemez women and children.  Not much remains of it today, and it’s quite overgrown.

Ruins of San Diego del Monte

Another view of San Diego del Monte

Given the extensive access this site has received, it was surprising to see such a large number of potsherds.  Still, pothunting and excavation damage was visible.  Having had our fill of a somewhat lackluster site, we set off for Astialakwa.

Looking southerly over the site of Patokwa, visible as the light colored, raised mounds. The Pueblo of Walatowa is in the far left background. Imaged on 10/3/2014

Looking southerly over the site of Patokwa, visible as the light colored, raised mounds. The Pueblo of Walatowa is in the far left background. Imaged on 10/3/2014 

Looking northerly over the site of Patokwa, in the foreground. Astialakwa is on top of the mesa to the rear, about a mile distant. Both sites were imaged on the same flight. Imaged on 10/3/2014

Looking northerly over the site of Patokwa, in the foreground. Astialakwa is on top of the mesa to the rear, about a mile distant. Both sites were imaged on the same flight. Imaged on 10/3/2014