Sep 8

Funeral Bills and Coroner’s Inquests: The Other Block 92 Scandal

Historical archaeologist Homer Thiel continues the story of 19th-century Tucson’s scandalous Block 92. A previous blog post chronicled the scandalous history of Block 92 resident Jack Boleyn. As a historical archaeologist, I use documents (deeds, court records, maps, photographs, newspaper articles, etc.) along with archaeological features and artifacts to reconstruct…

Jul 28

The Early Agricultural Period Construction Boom

Homer Thiel discusses architecture and recounts the Desert Archaeology investigations he has led that encountered Early Agricultural period pithouses in the vicinity of downtown Tucson.  A construction boom is currently underway in downtown Tucson and in the area west of the Santa Cruz River as new housing and businesses—including the…

Jul 10

Think of Me.

Today marks historical archaeologist Homer Thiel's 25th anniversary at Desert Archaeology. In a special blog entry, he thinks back to two key finds that encapsulate his career. The phone in my Tempe apartment rang on July 10th, 1992. "Hello, this is Bill Doelle of Desert Archaeology in Tucson..." Bill was…

Jun 9

The Archaeology of Children in Territorial-era Tucson

Historical archaeologist Homer Thiel is back with more insights into life in 19th century Tucson--this week, about the kids. What was life like for the children who lived in Tucson during the American Territorial Period, from 1856 to 1912? Surviving documents—newspaper articles, school records, and censuses—can tell us some basic…

Signs are among Desert Archaeology's public outreach products. May 19

Desert Archaeology Public Outreach: Bringing the Past to the Present

Project director and historical archaeologist Homer Thiel showcases the variety of public outreach products created by Desert Archaeology. After the excavations are finished, the artifacts analyzed, and the reports written, what else is left to do? For Desert Archaeology staff members, sharing the results of their work with the public…

Historic diet in Tucson Apr 21

What’s for Supper? Exploring Historic Period Diet in Tucson

In December 2015, Tucson was designated a UNESCO City of Gastronomy, the first in the United States. This honor was given for many reasons, among them Tucson's 4,100 years of agriculture, the interest in preserving heritage crops by Native Seed Search and the Kino Heritage Fruit Tree project, and the…

Desert Archaeology illustration answering the question what is a pithouse Mar 9

Answering Archaeology Questions: Pithouse Architecture

Homer Thiel explores pithouse architecture and how the most common prehistoric dwellings in southern Arizona changed over time. The illustration at the top is by Robert Ciaccio. For several thousand years people have been constructing pithouses in the Sonoran Desert. Desert Archaeology employees are frequently asked "What is a pithouse?"…

Mar 2

Desert Archaeology in Downtown Tucson: Telling Their Stories

Homer Thiel is Desert Archaeology's historical archaeology expert. He writes this week about our work uncovering the history of Block 91, now the eastern gateway to downtown Tucson, and how the everyday items we found illuminate the lives of the ordinary people who lived and worked there at the turn…