Crow Canyon

Samuel Duwe

Samuel DuweSamuel Duwe is a doctoral candidate at the University of Arizona. He was first exposed to archaeology when his fifth-grade class from Elk Creek Elementary School in Pine Junction, Colorado, attended a program at Crow Canyon. Sam began to develop his research focus as an undergraduate at the University of Michigan, where he learned to conduct instrumental neutron activation analysis for his Senior Honors thesis, which addressed questions of pottery provenance at late-phase pithouse sites in the Taos District, in the Rio Grande region of northwestern New Mexico.

A stint as crew chief on the University of Arizona field school in east-central Arizona led to his Master's project, which focused on community organization at the Bailey Ruin. Using inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry to discern unique "recipes" for slip and paint used on decorated pottery, Sam explored questions of craft production, community organization, and apprenticeship relationships among potters at a single site. For his dissertation research, he has returned to the Rio Grande drainage to study the processes of coalescence that accompanied the formation of Tewa pueblos after A.D. 1150.

Sam has also conducted research at Early Copper Age (ECA) sites in Hungary. There, the transition from the Neolithic to the ECA appears to be a process of "de-aggregation," which poses an interesting counterpoint to his dissertation research on coalescence.


The working title of Sam's dissertation is "The Prehispanic Tewa World: Coalescence and Identity in the Northern Rio Grande Region, New Mexico." His research examines the formation of new group identities among ancestral Pueblo populations in the Tewa Basin, New Mexico, during the Coalition (A.D. 1150–1325) and Classic (A.D. 1325–1600) periods. The Tewa Basin is a portion of the Rio Grande drainage bounded by the Rio Chama drainage on the north and Frijoles Canyon on the south.

The central question that Sam attempts to answer with his research is, How was the formation of a Tewa identity affected when small sites coalesced into large pueblos? He traces the development of more than 40 large pueblos during the Coalition and Classic periods and investigates how it came to be that only six of these remained occupied when the Spanish colonized New Mexico at the end of the sixteenth century. To examine the formation of Tewa pueblos and identity, Sam has designed multiple analyses to document three important topics: the movement of people, the movement of materials, and the development and elaboration of cosmologies.

To reconstruct the movement of people, Sam will develop a high-resolution culture history for his study area. This will be accomplished by creating detailed site maps and analyzing 26,000 pottery sherds. The sizes of sites as determined from the maps will allow Sam to estimate how many people lived at each pueblo, and the pottery analysis will allow him to determine when they lived there.

To analyze the movement of materials, Sam will determine the chemical composition of pottery using flight-laser ablation-inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry. This analysis will be performed on 89 raw clay samples and 1,000 pottery sherds. The results will allow Sam to determine where pottery was manufactured and how it was exchanged—evidence of how people living in the various pueblos were interacting with one another.

To understand the development and elaboration of cosmologies, Sam will analyze ethnographies, shrines, rock art, ritual architecture, and prominent natural features. This information will provide insights into how ritual landscapes were created and how cosmologies changed over time.

Sam's research will add significantly to our knowledge of the Tewa Basin, will determine how a Tewa identity formed, and will clarify how Tewa culture changed as a result of population coalescence. Finally, the methods developed as a result of this study will be useful to archaeological researchers working in many other regions of the world.