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Gobernadora and Ojasen Sites

John W. Clark, Jr. General

The Gobernadora and Ojasén sites are located in northeast El Paso on the right-of-way of U.S. Highway 54. They occupy portions of a single alluvial fan originating from Fusselman Canyon on the east side of the Franklin Mountains. Surface indications of occupation included a small amount of chipping debris, pottery sherds, burned rocks, and exposed hearths. Creosote, short grasses, and a variety of forbs were present on both sites. The sites were named for the plants growing on them-gobernadora (creosote) and ojasén (Texas tar bush). The sites were excavated in 1981 by John W. Clark, Jr., of the Archeology Section of the Highway Design Division of the State Department of Highways and Public Transportation. The excavation was a part of a mitigation program developed in conjunction with plans for the construction of the U.S. 54 Northeast Expressway. About half of the Gobernadora Site fell within the right-of-way, while the Ojasén Site was entirely within. Both sites are affiliated with the Jornada Branch of the Mogollón, with the Ojasén Site relatively later. Both sites contain a small number of artifacts from earlier and later periods but are principally single-component or single-occupation phase sites. Radiocarbon dates for the Gobernadora Site indicate a date of about A.D. 1100, while the Ojasén Site dates about 1,000 years later.

A variety of artifacts appropriate to the respective time periods were recovered from the two sites. Ceramics dominated the inventories for both sites, with locally made El Paso Brown as the dominant type. Among the decorated pottery types, El Paso Polychrome dominated the Gobernadora Site while Mimbres Black-on-White was numerous at the Ojasén Site. Other items included a very small number of arrowpoints, a granite metate, disc-shaped shell beads, and bone awls. A large collection of faunal remains was procured at the Gobernadora Site. The most significant archeological features found at the sites were pit houses-three at Gobernadora and two at Ojasén. Unlike many of the Jornada house sites, these houses tend to be somewhat square to rectangular rather than oval. Other features represented at both sites were rock- and clay-lined hearths, postholes, and trash pits. Hearths were divisible into three types: stone-lined pits, stone concentrations, and shallow clay-lined basins. The basin hearths were associated with the houses while the others were outside the houses. Postholes appear to have been for roof supports in the pithouses and for ramadas, racks, etc.

John W. Clark, Jr., The Gobernadora Site (41EP321); The Ojasén Site (41EP289) (MSS, State Department of Highways and Public Transportation, Austin). Myles R. Miller, Archaeological Excavations at the Gobernadora and Ojasén Sites (Las Cruces: New Mexico State University, 1988).


  • Archeology
  • Land Sites

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

John W. Clark, Jr., “Gobernadora and Ojasen Sites,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed October 01, 2020,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.