Richard Montoya, Archaeologist

Richard MontoyaRichard Montoya
Archaeologist
505-476-4418
richard.montoya@state.nm.us

Growing up as a kid, with all the fantasies that kids have, I had a strong fascination with treasures, jewels, and gold. I can remember my Mom burying old coins or even some of her old jewelry and then making me a treasure map so I could dig them up. As I got older my Dad would take me on short walks just a couple of fields over from our house near the Santa Cruz River, where we would search the ground for pottery. I would come home with my pockets full (not knowing that it was the wrong thing to do, and yes, I returned the pottery later on), look over the different designs, and wonder what they meant and who made them. I would be amazed that people actually lived where I lived, hundreds of years ago.

As I got into junior high and high school, my fascination with treasures and pottery was replaced with a passion for sports, which took up all my time and energy. My passion paid off, earning me a scholarship to compete in cross-country and track at the University of Tulsa. I had no idea what to study at college or what I wanted to become. I started out in business management, thinking I could go back home and help expand my parents' art gallery, but after a couple of classes I knew it wasn't for me. I took an entry-level anthropology class, which reignited my childhood fascination with the mysteries of the past. I changed my major to anthropology and had my first brush with an archaeological excavation in 1996 at a field school in southwest Utah, where I took part in the excavation of a virgin Anasazi site. After that field season I knew that this was what I wanted to do.

After college I still had no idea what I was going to do. I had received an offer to go back and be part of the staff at the field school I had attended, but I had also heard of an OAS excavation going on in Pojoaque, just a few miles from my house. My Dad stopped by and inquired if any jobs where available and was told to have me stop by. I visited the site on my way home from Tulsa and started work just four days later.

Since then I have had many great experiences: excavating a Basketmaker III pithouse in the San Juan Basin, pithouses and a Spanish Colonial house in the Pojoaque-Tesuque area, a Jornada-Mogollon structure near Ruidoso, a pithouse near Peña Blanca, grid gardens in the Chama Valley, and an 1880s engine house and depot in Santa Fe, as well as being part of the Santa Fe Civic Center excavations, which included everything from Coalition-phase structures to the foundations of Fort Marcy. I have analyzed ceramics from most of the sites that I have worked on. Being at OAS has provided me with many opportunities to explore the archaeology of the state. Nowadays, I can walk over to sites near my house, pick up a piece of pottery, and have a better understanding of the people who lived in my neighborhood hundreds of years ago.