"Native Peoples along the Camino Real"
The Teypana Pueblo Piro Indian exhibit at the Camino Real Center
led by Dr. Michael Bletzer
An interesting and education exhibit for visitors of all ages
El Camino Real International Heritage Center
Updated 06 APR 2013
The Piro People: Teypana Pueblo exhibit at the Center
The Foundation and El Camino Real Center are proud to present our newest exhibit on the excavation of the Teypana Pueblo. This
was the Piro pueblo on El Camino Real visited by Juan de O˝ate and his colonists in May 1598. The Piros were
the first inhabitants along the Rio Grande that is now Socorro County, New Mexico.
Teypana, and nearby Qualac˙, are the
only two of dozens of Piro pueblos to receive professional excavation. Artifacts of the Teypana excavation were donated to the
Center to show pueblo life along the Rio Grande in the 1300-1600s.
This exhibit is unique in that the artifacts are presented
exactly as they were recovered during the excavation. Unlike most museum displays, these artifacts have not received any reconstruction
except simple cleaning. There are few Piro artifacts in New Mexico's museums. This is now the largest Piro pueblo exhibit
on public display.
What's in a name? O˝ate recorded the pueblo as "Teipana;" other early Spaniards and Franciscan
friars recorded it as "Teypama" and "Teypana." The spelling variant "Teypana" is the most widely accepted form, pronounced
"Tay-PAH-nah." The Spaniards renamed the pueblo to Socorro in 1598. About 1620, the name Socorro was transferred to the
nearby and larger Pilabˇ (Pee-lah-BO) pueblo - the location of today's City of Socorro.
History articles on the history of the Piro people and their pueblos along the Rio Grande
Part 1 Early Spanish contact with the
Piro pueblo Indians
Part 2 Piro pueblos along the Rio Grande and
About the excavation
Finding the "missing" pueblo and photos of the site before and during excavation
Photos of some of the pueblo rooms during excavation
How old is the pueblo? Why was it abandoned?
artifacts were found? What was NOT found?
What happened to the Piro people?
Where are they today?
Archaeologist Michael Marshall found and recorded many Piro sites along the Rio Grande under the Rio Abajo Survey. He discovered a large pueblo in 1984 he named Plaza Montoya. Portions have since been excavated and appears to be the pueblo of Teypana.
Michael Marshall and Henry Walt published their findings in their "Rio Abajo" book, available in the
Center's Gift Store.
Plaza Montoya/Teypana pueblo is located on private property owned by the Holm O. Bursum III family, the estate of Charles and Jessie Headen, and the late Barbara Remington. The land owners have donated the artifacts to the Foundation to be on public display. Holm O. Bursum III (left), custodian of the artifacts, is shown next to archaeologist Dr. Michael Bletzer at the exhibit.
1st case: tools and "kitchen" items on top; manos and metates on bottom.
2nd case: more food preparation and mealing items, and more metates.
3rd case: some of the utility and ceremonial pottery recovered at Teypana
4th case: arrow heads, musical instruments, toys, ceremonial items, and metal objects proving Spanish contact.
(Top) Jewelry and items of adornment (Bottom) Needles, awls and pins
(Top) European metalic nails and screws proving Spanish contact
(Bottom) Musical flutes made from hallowed eagle bones
A metate stone and mano was used to grind dried corn into meal or flour
Finding the pueblo and excavation work