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Archaeological Resources

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April 12, 2012

Standing and previously collapsed walls at Nake’muu – note the window opening in the wall in the forefront of the photograph.


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The results of the nine-year monitoring program revealed that DARHT Facility operations were not impacting the architecture at Nake’muu.

A place of historic cultures

The 36 square miles of the Pajarito Plateau, upon which LANL is situated, contain more than 1800 cultural resources including archaeological sites and historic structures and buildings, representing a history spanning 7,000 years.

The oldest sites at LANL date to the Archaic period (5500 BC to AD 600); these are artifact scatters that represent the remains of temporary campsites, however, the majority of sites at LANL date to the Ancestral Pueblo Period (AD 600 to AD 1600).

Ancestral Period sites are manifested on the landscape in a wide variety of site types including artifact scatters, one- to three-room structures, agricultural features, cavates, pueblo roomblocks, and plaza pueblos.

By AD 1600 Pueblo people had largely abandoned the Pajarito Plateau as a residential area, and as a result, there are almost no known archaeological sites on the Plateau until the beginning of the Homestead Era in AD 1890.


Nake'muu Ruin is situated high above the confluence of two deeply entrenched canyons at the end of a narrow finger of the mesa at an elevation of 2200 m (7220 ft). The name Nake'muu means "village on the edge" or "village at the point" in Tewa, the language spoken by six of the northern Rio Grande Pueblos. Nake'muu Ruin is one of the best-preserved ruins on the Pajarito Plateau and is the only ancestral pueblo at LANL that still retains its standing walls.

The effects of explosives testing on the architecture at Nake'muu

Beginning in 1997, LANL conducted a nine-year monitoring program to identify and evaluate any long-term effects on the architecture at Nake'muu from the ambient environment and operations at the Dual Axis Radiographic Hydrodynamic Test (DARHT) Facility situated 350 m (0.21 mi) northeast of Nake'muu.

The results of the nine-year monitoring program revealed that DARHT Facility operations were not impacting the architecture at Nake’muu. While there have been some minor changes in the standing-walled architecture at Nake’muu, the ambient environment, including movements of elk and other native wildlife through the site, have a greater effect on the deterioration rate of the standing walled architecture at Nake’muu than do DAHRT Facility operations.

Members of the LANL Resources Management Team continue less intensive site monitoring at Nake’muu to document annual changes at the site as part of compliance with the National Historic Preservation Act.

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