Shell Artifacts from Arroyo Hondo Pueblo


Shell Artifacts from Arroyo Hondo Pueblo, Tamsin Venn, 1984, School of American Research Press, Santa Fe, New Mexico, Arroyo Hondo Archeological Series, Additional Reports II, Volume 5

     Excavations from Arroyo Hondo Pueblo produced 255 shell artifacts, including 184 beads, 47 pendants, and 24 unclassified fragments. The most spectacular discovery was a necklace of 100 shells – 94 Olivella beads, 5 abalone pendants and 1 Conus pendant – stored in a small Santa Fe black-on-white jar found in the wall of a room. Other shells came from the fill from the rooms and plazas and a few were found as grave goods accompanying child and infant burials.

     Except for freshwater mussels, all shells found at Arroyo Hondo Pueblo were native to the Gulf of California or the Pacific Ocean. Shells reached Arroyo Hondo Pueblo by some of the many trade routes that crossed the prehistoric southwest. Arroyo Hondo Pueblo’s greatest role in shell trade was most likely that of receiving shells from intermediaries to the southwest and passing some items along to smaller communities in the area.