Two twelfth-century settlements a hundred kilometers apart in Arizona were apparently built by discrete cultures, but they have at least one trait in common: In each complex is a hidden, hollow compartment that once held large chunks of alien iron — fragments of a 50,000-year-old meteorite.
While it’s not clear what, if any, interaction there was between the two communities, the existence of these twin meteorite “shrines” is a connection worth investigating, says Ken Zoll.
"The sites themselves are not necessarily linked, but the practice is linked," said Zoll, executive director of the Verde Valley Archaeological Center in Camp Verde, Arizona.
Zoll, who researches archaeoastronomy — the study of how ancient cultures tracked celestial events — discussed the little-known meteorite caches earlier this month at the 2013 Pecos Conference, an annual meeting of Southwestern archaeologists. Read more.
At a conservation center in Tucson, archaeologists are studying several ancient Native American pots discovered earlier this year deep in the remote desert mountains of southern Arizona.
The archaeologists believe the pots are hundreds of years old but still haven’t determined their exact age or who made them. That could take a year or more.
But what they do know is that the discovery of the pots was a rare and unusual find.
The reddish-brown pots, which likely stored water and food, were intact when they were found in mountainous alcoves of Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, which lies just north of the U.S.-Mexico border and west of the Tohono O’odham Reservation. Most of the ancient pottery found these days are shards.
Sitting on the surface in sandy soil, they had been undisturbed since they were carefully placed there by human hands. Read more.
Archeologists said they’ve found ancient artifacts that could date back to before the Hohokams in dirt removed from the downtown Phoenix construction site of the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office’s $93 million headquarters.
In May, shovels hit an archeological jackpot at the site at Sixth Avenue and Madison Street when workers unearthed remnants of graves that local preservation experts said traced back to Arizona’s pioneers who died in the mid- to late-1800s.
The findings were sparse, but coffin handles, wood slivers, and some human remains were discovered, suggesting an incomplete job of moving pioneer remains from the city’s first cemetery to the later-constructed Pioneer and Military Memorial Park, an 1881 editorial in the Phoenix Herald and local experts suggest.
But the grindstones and pottery fragments more recently found have been buried for even longer, possibly as far back as 1,600 years ago, experts said. Read more.
LUKE AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. — Archaeologists here recently unearthed an ancient dwelling — just one of thousands of artifacts found here that date back as far as 3,000 B.C.
The excavation was part of the site preparation, including mitigation of surface archaeology and testing for subsurface archaeology, for a large solar array on the south side of the base,
"This site could be of importance to Arizona and the Phoenix valley," said John Hall, the senior project director with Statistical Research, which is doing the excavation. "We had some of the artifacts dated and this site is almost 1,000 years older than any other site in the Phoenix valley."
Since October 2010, the excavation team has found thousands of artifacts around the area to help them get an idea of how the people here lived. Read more.
TUBA CITY, Ariz. (AP) – In the far reaches of northern Arizona, where city sprawl gives way to majestic canyons and a holy place is defined not by steeple and cross but rather by earth and sky, lies a monument to a people’s past and a symbol of the promise of peace between two long-warring Indian nations.
The Hopi people call it Tutuveni (tu-TOO-veh-nee), meaning “newspaper rock,” and from a distance this place is just that – a collection of sandstone boulders set on a deserted swath of rust-stained land outside of Tuba City, some 80 miles from the Grand Canyon and a four-hour drive north of Phoenix.
It is only when you step closer that you begin to understand what Tutuveni really is: a history of the Hopi Indian tribe carved into stone.
The site contains some 5,000 petroglyphs of Hopi clan symbols, the largest known collection of such symbols in the American Southwest. According to researchers with the Hopi Cultural Preservation Office, the many etchings on the boulders of Tutuveni date as far back as far back as A.D. 1200. Read more.
Almost nine hundred years ago, in the mid-12th century, the southwestern U.S. was in the middle of a multi-decade megadrought. It was the most recent extended period of severe drought known for this region. But it was not the first.
The second century A.D. saw an extended dry period of more than 100 years characterized by a multi-decade drought lasting nearly 50 years, says a new study from scientists at the University of Arizona.
UA geoscientists Cody Routson, Connie Woodhouse and Jonathan Overpeck conducted a study of the southern San Juan Mountains in south-central Colorado. The region serves as a primary drainage site for the Rio Grande and San Juan rivers. Read more.
Archeology groups are lining up against a proposal, currently being debated on the floor of the House of Representatives, to give a major copper mining company a large chunk of federal land in Arizona in exchange for private lands. The groups are particularly concerned that any mine built on the former federal land would destroy archeological sites near Oak Flat, a popular Arizona recreational area.
The trade would be “a blatant giveaway of the nation’s public land to a single private stakeholder” and would set “a dangerous precedent,” William F. Limp, president of the Society for American Archaeology (SAA) in Washington, D.C., argues with colleagues in a letter to lawmakers signed by eight archeology and historic preservation groups.
The proposal (H.R. 1904) would swap U.S. Forest Service land about 70 miles south of Phoenix for an array of privately owned lands elsewhere in the state. Under the arrangement, initially floated in 2005, Resolution Copper Co., an offshoot of global mining leader Rio Tinto, would get about 2400 acres of land believed to sit atop a vast deposit of high-quality copper. The federal government would get about 5300 acres in exchange, including 3000 acres of ecologically important land along the lower San Pedro River. Read more.
PATAGONIA - Gary Nabhan has written stacks of research papers about culture, archaeology and food for academic journals, and has authored at least a dozen books, some meant for popular consumption, others the academic kind whose titles have colons and subtitles that are longer than the main title.
But the gist of his high-minded, dense research is this: People lived here thousands of years ago and they must have eaten something.
To get that something, they didn’t go to the supermarket or big-box discount store. They grew and raised their foodstuffs on arid desert lands.
Nabhan, 59, has made it his life’s work to figure out what those foods were and, if possible, to bring those nearly extinct foods back to life.
In doing so, he has helped reintroduce a veritable shopping list of foods to Arizona: beans, nuts, grains, fruits, vegetables and meats. He also has made his academic work edible, encouraging home cooks and award-winning chefs to actually use these culinary archaeological finds. Read more.