Weapons of a Spanish Colonial Road: An Analysis of Arms Found at Paraje San Diego, New Mexico

Author(s): Paul Van Wandelen

Year: 2017


The Camino Real de Tierra Adentro served as the main conduit of transportation in New Mexico from 1598 until the 1880s, with continued regional use afterwards. Situated in strategic locations along this road were stopping points, called parajes, which travelers used to rest. Parajes are usually described as campsites in literature and less attention is given to the other activities that occurred at these sites. In recent reanalysis of collections from Paraje San Diego, a historical paraje near Las Cruces, New Mexico, a significant number of arms and ammunition have been found ranging from lithics to modern firearms. The notable presence of such materials indicates some of the activities which occurred at these sites. As stopping points along lengthy, well-used roads, these sites were home to food gathering, violence, and target practice, among other uses. This paper will present an analysis of the arms found at Paraje San Diego and discuss when, how, and possibly why they were used by travelers using the paraje. Understanding the wide variety of roles these arms served to travelers on the Camino Real will lead to a better understanding of both paraje sites and their uses, as well as travel along the road.

Cite this Record

Weapons of a Spanish Colonial Road: An Analysis of Arms Found at Paraje San Diego, New Mexico. Paul Van Wandelen. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 429430)

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Geographic Keywords
North America - Southwest

Spatial Coverage

min long: -115.532; min lat: 30.676 ; max long: -102.349; max lat: 42.033 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 17074