Santa Cruz de Terrenate Presidio, 2010 Field Season
This year's efforts are aided by volunteers from Paradise Valley Community College and their Americorps program (shown above), including
students at Arizona State University. Our regular local Tucson, Sierra Vista, and Santa Cruz River Valley volunteers are also assisting.
As shown above, the foundation stones for the outer presido wall and the back wall of the lieutenant's quarters are clearly visible, with adobe
bricks and mortar resting on top of them. We still have a ways to go before encountering the floor.
Part of the erosion process involves the collapse
of structure walls into and outside of the
structure. Those that collapse inward sometimes
remain sufficiently intact that they can be
documented. In the foreground an interior wall
that divided rooms in the lieutenant's quarters
(between Rooms 28 and 137) fell into Room 137.
Because the room had already filled with
erosional debris before the wall fell, the wall
remains fairly intact, having fallen on a
relatively flat surface.
In the midground of the image at the far end of
the structrure, another wall had collapsed
inward, but before the room had filled
sufficiently to create a flat surface. The sloping
room fill resulted in the wall tumbling inward at
a slope and becoming somewhat disarticulated.
The individual bricks can still be seen in some
This is a close-up image of the bricks and mortar left intact when the wall between
Rooms 28 and 137 fell flat. The bricks and mortar joints have been enhanced by scoring.
The wall was mapped in place before it will be removed to document its construction. This wall is thinner than the bearing (north-south)
walls and than the walls that divide each apartment from the adjacent ones. The bricks are smaller making the wall narrower.
The wall segment that collapsed into the structure fairly
early in the in-filling process formed little more than a
mass of adobe at the modern surface owing to exposure to
the elements. Upon careful removal of clay and sediment
some of the individual bricks could be discerned.
Although difficult to see in this image (below), there is black charcoal- and ash-rich sediment (Stratum 3, surrounding the north arrow) throughout much of the
structure. This indicates the structure burned at some point in its history. This burning, however, occurred fairly late in the sequence of events. Laminated strata
underlie this burning (as occurred in other rooms) indicating that there was some in-filling before the presidio burned. This means that the room stood open for
many years, and was used by passers by (as indicated by a variety of archaeological evidence), including documented uses by military campaigns. It then
burned but the walls were still standing and adobe continued to wash into the structure and walls occasionally collapsed.
Room 138 (below) was previously excavated by Di Peso. He did not backfill, as was practice at the time. As a result the walls and floors remained
open to the elements again. Through time these have eroded, as have the surrounding structures, gradually in-filling the room to a relatvely stable
grade. As a result, however, the walls have eroded. In the image shown below the foundation stones can be seen with adobe mortar on top of them
and bricks were then laid on top of that. This lowest brick is eroding and here two are show which are only partially preserved, the rest having
eroded away. In 50 years not even these will remain unless they are stabilized. These walls, the entry way, and the floor are being exposed to see if
Di Peso encountered the same contruction techniques as we are seeing, to document characteristics, and to describe and photo document the
evidence. We are expecting many more details to be revealed that were not apparent when Di Peso dug the room, as he probably did not get all
the way to the floor in some instances. Some of the other structures he dug outside the presidio have proven to be very different than he described
them, as revealed by our current excavations.
This is in the NW corner of the presidio along the west wall.
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The wall fell north from where it once sat on top of the east-west
aligned dividing wall. As a result, it fell adjacent to the outer presidio
wall providing a nice comparison of the construction differences
between the two walls. It is rare for a wall to fall flat so that it remains
intact, but it is even rarer to have it fall adjacent to a perpendicularly
aligned wall so that it makes a nice image. The hearth is probably
under this flat-lying wall, otherwise we would leave it unexcavated.
This segment gives us a hint as to how high the ceilings were.
Judging from the depth of the floor in Room 28 and the height or
length of this wall segment (2 meters) that rested on top of it, we can
estimate that the ceiling sat on walls that were about 3 to 3.5 meters
Ceramic gaming piece.
Di Peso (1953:146) had found some sherd disks, but
only one was historic. This was crafted from a piece
of majolica. As Di Peso points out Toulouse found
similarly shaped disks made of late glazes at Abo.
Deagon (2002:296) shows these from Spanish
Colonial sites in the South,
(These scales are in inches because I can't find my
metric ruler/scale tonight.)
This decorative metal piece is very intricate as shown in the images below and is fairly fragile. Di Peso (1953:197-199) found similar applique suggesting
that it was meal overlay used to decorate gun butts on both muskets and sash guns. The greenish tint suggests this ornamental overlay is bronze or brass.
The ashy gray stratum (S-3) underlies these bricks and the melted abobe around them. This means that this portion of the wall fell in after the room burned.
ARTIFACTS FROM ROOM 137
A patch of white powdery material is present in the southeast corner of
the room. This is in dense patches of fine grained powder and it also coats
pebbles and gravel. It is seemingly whitewash, lime, or paster. A similar
substance was found in the SE corner of Room 27, but in much smaller
quantities. This is still in the fill but may overlie the bench or other feature
as may occur in this area at a greater depth. In this image all of the
Stratum 3 gray ashy fill has been removed down to a new wash layer.
We initiate this year's work with the intent of further investigating issues of rank, class, gender, ethnicity, and society at this short-lived presidio. We are attempting to learn
more about this place and its inhabitants from a variety of sources.
John Kessell outlined all of these moves of the Terrenate garrison in his 1966 article The Puzzling Presidio, so this can be used as a source, although he adopted the recently
disproven notion advanced in the 1930s by Bolton and in the 1950s by Di Peso that this presidio is Quiburi or Quiburi Misison. Work specifically on the Sobaipuri has identified
various other candidates for Kino's Quiburi and later Quiburis. There is Sobaipuri material here at Terrenate but it relates to the Sobaipuri settlement of Santa Cruz, seemingly
after they returned to the San Pedro in the first decade of the 1700s after a brief hiatus.
As Gerald points out, the soldiers and familes were installed in the presidio between May 22 and September 13, 1775 (Gerald 1968:17; O'Conor 1952:64-65). Most sourced
indicate that the move did not occur until later in 1775. This warrants further investigation.
Contrary to statements by Griffen (1988:15) Santa Cruz de Terrenate presidio is not on the Santa Cruz River, 65 miles down-river (south) from San Agustin de Tucson. It is on the
San Pedro River. At this time the current Santa Cruz River was referred to as the Santa Maria. Santa Cruz de Terrenate presidio was called Santa Cruz because it was built on
the place where an Indian village had been that was called Santa Cruz. This was the abandoned Sobaipuri settlement of Santa Cruz, sometimes referred to as Santa Cruz de
(of) Quiburi, owing to its presence on the Quiburi River (as the San Pedro river was sometimes called, aka Terrenate River), in the Quiburi Valley, and because of its
subservient position relative to the larger and more politically important Sobapuri settlement of Quiburi.
Di Peso had excavated only five of the 20 rooms comprising the officer's quarters and only one room in the block in the Captains quarters, all of which line the west wall of the
outer defensive wall of the presidio. We are focusing on the northern end of the apartments.
The winter session underway has resulted in the exposure of the upper portion of previously unexcavated Room 137 and partial removal of in-filled erosional layers from
Room 138 that was excavated by Di Peso in the late 1940s. These are two of the four rooms occupied by the Lieutenant and his family in the officers' apartments. In the last two
years two other room in this four-room apartment were excavated. No hearth has been found yet, suggesting that it will be in this room.
As in the other two rooms the upper fill represents wash and erosion off the walls and the collapse of walls into the fill. Mostly fine-grained laminea are present sloping off the
walls but occasionally an intact or melted wall segement is visible. We have excavated down to the layer where burned fill is visible. Upcoming sessions will continue to the
Similar brass scroll overlays can be seen in “Spanish Military
Weapons in Colonial America, 1700-1821 by Sidney Brinckerhoff
and Pierce Chamberlain.”
As Mr. Brinckerhoff has indicated via email this brass scroll
overlay is similar to “muskets and pistols manufactured in
Ripoll, Spain of a type that was widely exported to the colonies.
Nearly all the Ripoll weapons I have examined have this
distinctive decoration, unique to the gunsmiths in the region.”
A dense clay is present the center of the structure (not illustrated) which suggests that water accumulated and stood there. This pooling resulted in the build up
of dense clay with few artifacts. Cultural fill is present mainly around the edges, as was the case in the other rooms. This preservation likely relates in part to
the sloping floors toward the walls and in some instance the presence of benches.
Gravely and course structural debris is in the doorways is consistent with a layer in the fill that seems to be roof collapse (as also seen in other rooms). This
suggests that the roof collapsed, filling in the door ways, probably prohibiting the water in the center of the structure from escaping and so the water stood with
clay in suspension and then gradually evaporated.
A Five-Room Apartment
A surprise entryway noticed a month ago in the north wall of Room 137 has been verfied. This means that this Lieutenant's quarters was a five room apartment.
The small room in the southwest corner of Di Peso's Corral 2 in the map shown above was probably a closet or storage room attached to the four larger rooms.
Di Peso had noticed a break and a small closet in the north wall of Room 138. The problem with the new wall break in Room 137 is that Di Peso already dug the
room to the north and while he found what seems to be a partitioned area, there may have been no brick walls to block off this small area. It therefore may
have had jacal walls or it may have simply been an entryway into the corral with a raised or separated area (distinctive by floor trenches) set apart from the rest
of the corral. Either way, this new wall break/entryway is an important addition to understanding this Lieutenant's quarters.
The burn layer continues through the entryway into the room to the north. The stone foundation runs continuously so there would have be a step up or over to
get between rooms. There are chunks of adobe bricks in the entryway, as there have been in all the entryways. This is because the roof and walls fell into the
rooms and because there were voids in the doorways they likely tumbled into these areas and washed there as the rooms were inundated with rain.
North entryway after excavation. The low rise of the threshold is barely visible in foreground.
Entryway prior to excavation, with construction debris collapsed within.
Footprints from Presidio Times
A series of 25 bare-foot footprints are visible on the floor of the southwest corner of Room 137. These range in length from 10 to 10 and a
half inches suggesting a sizable foot. Not all are complete but those that are suggest one foot size is represented. These would have been
impressed in a very wet floor that then dried before the prints were impacted.
This close-up of one of the best-preserved
footprints shows a deep heel and light toe
imprints (on left).
This print shows the entire foot better
than most, but lacks the toes owing to
the presence of a pebble.
An adobe layer overlies these prints, some of this cap had been taken out but a portion was left in for this photo. Some of the prints extend under this adobe layer or
cap which which is continuous with a collar for the lower portion of the floor. This suggests that the prints relate to either the initial construction of the room and the
erection of this dividing wall, or result from a later effort to repair a leaky roof in this corner of the room. This cap and an erosion line visible as a seam or crack
between the lowest brick layer and the one above suggest that this adobe cap was designed to repare the floor and cover the footprints. The wall bond with the
outside or west wall is poor as well. All of these factors suggest that the dividing wall was subsiding, probably causing a leaky roof. The dividing wall may have
subsided owing to the soft cultural fill from the Hohokam occupation under the floor.
THE MIDDEN OUTSIDE THE EAST WALL AND GATEHOUSE
Many people have commented about how odd it is that the trash was dumped right outside the presidio entrance. Was this used as a dumping area only after it became too
dangerous for residents to venture further from the walls of the presidio to dispose of their trash off the cliff face or in the fields?
Still-usable items found in the officers' apartments and in the midden argue against the meticulous cleaning of rooms upon abandonment. The abundance of metal and
unbroken items, such as beads, crosses, and so on suggest that metal and many other items were not in as short of supply as has been suggested for this period. The
relatively short supply line from Arispe may have functioned quite effectively for some time, perhaps explaining the abundance of discarded material. Later the
documentary record states that the mule trains were prohibited from getting supplies through because of Apache attacks.
The abundance of metal artifacts in this small portion of the midden requires explanation. Is it that there was no blacksmith so that broken items (such as drawer handles)
could not be repaired? Still usable horseshoe nails, lead, crosses, and jewelry are present in rooms and the midden suggesting that lack of functionality was not at issue.
Perhaps the blacksmith was killed. It is possible that when people were killed their possessions were discarded as their apartments were cleaned out, but only relatively
small items were disposed of or perhaps these are all that have survived collection through the ages. On the other hand, many small items may have accidentally ended up
in the trash as floors were swept. Still one has to wonder if perception of status played a role in this phenomenon. The lack of reuse indicates that supplies were easily
obtained or that there was a stigma against reusing items for these status-conscious Spaniards. The showiness and general lack of functionality of certain items, such as the
gun stock decoration, indicates that perception of wealth and taste was key: appearances were everything. Records from New Mexico indicate that the cost of items often far
exceeded income, keeping families in perpetual debt. Importantly, it seems that dressing or setting a table fit for the rank of one's husband or suitable for the rank to which
he aspired was an important factor in the materials consumed by these military households. There seems to be an inverse relationship between the prevalence of
hard-to-obtain (imported) and expensive items and the frequency of their representation in the midden. This suggests that ostentation played a key role in this small
community. Similar patterns occur in colonial period sites where native artifacts sometimes increase in frequency relative to European items as native society was becoming
less powerful and European society was becoming more powerful and disruptive (Rogers 1990:220). Efforts to change or manipulate the reality of power-based relationships
seem at the heart of both of these patterns.
When trash disposal practices are viewed in a historical and cross-cultural perspective the answer seems a bit clearer, reminding us of the pitfalls of constructing narratives
solely on the basis of our personal experience or contexts familiar to us through our own societal ethos. It was not until the nineteenth century that a connection was made
between disease and hygiene. Consequently the problem of disease generation would not have been a factor in determining where trash would be dumped. Moreover, the
offensiveness of the smell might not have been considered, given that waste was frequently discarded in city streets in Europe at this time. It was common in Spanish
colonial and Mexican communities for trash to be scattered around the rancho so that pigs and goats could forage. At the presidio this would have had the added advantage
that livestock would have stayed closer to the presidio walls to forage so that they would be less likely to have been taken by the Apaches.
Artifacts from the Midden
The artifact frank has