A couple of short stacks of logs that appeared to be intersecting at a right angle caught the eye of a firefighter battling the Slide fire in Arizona. An archaeologist with the crew confirmed what the firefighter suspected:
The blaze had uncovered the ruins of a cabin at least a century old.
"The finding itself was very subtle," said Jeremy Haines, a U.S. Forest Service archaeologist. "It’s a collapsed, degraded cabin related to the earliest Euro-American settlement of this rugged, remote piece of Arizona."
Wildfires often destroy ruins and historic artifacts. With the help of archaeologists, firefighters can sometimes protect the sites, including Native American relics across the Southwest. Read more.
If archaeologists working in southern Arizona are right in their assumptions, some adobe ruins showcased in Tumacácori National Park may not be what the pamphlets and tour guides say they are.
Instead, less than a hundred meters away may sit the actual site: the ruins of the 1751 mission of Guevavi, the last Jesuit mission built on the Santa Cruz River before the Catholic order met with native revolt and eventual expulsion.
The site, discovered on property owned by the city of Nogales near the Mexican border, has already yielded ruins believed to be those of Arizona’s first Jesuit mission, built in 1701, as well as evidence of centuries’ worth of occupation by the Sobaipuri-O’odham, whose descendants are now part of the Tohono O’odham Nation. Read more.
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.