Category: Uncategorized

Jun 14

Well-Seasoned: Historical Perspectives on Precontact Pottery Making

What started out as a reexamination of schist temper led Desert Archaeology ceramicist James M. Heidke to review evidence regarding the time of year precontact pottery may have been made. Fontana and others found that mid-20th century Tohono O’odham potters only made vessels during the hot summer months, both for…

Apr 30

Diana Kamilli: Thinking Inside the Box

Desert Archaelogy ceramicist James M. Heidke wrote this tribute to the late Diana Kamilli and her contributions to ceramic provenance studies in Arizona. Diana Chapman Kamilli passed away in early August of last year, after a short illness. This belated Field Journal entry seeks to recognize the important contribution that…

Feb 1

Mary A. Lee, a Successful Black Businesswoman in Territorial Arizona

Homer Thiel tells the story of a prominent Black businesswoman who built successful culinary ventures in both Phoenix and Tucson in the late 1800s. Hundreds of African Americans arrived in the Territory of Arizona between 1856 and 1912. Early on these included escaped enslaved men such as Hampton Brown. After…

Jan 8

Fireplaces, Ovens, Roasting Pits: Cooking at the Tucson Presidio

Residents of the Tucson Presidio farmed, raised livestock, and occasionally hunted. Food was plentiful in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, but cookstoves were not. Historical archaeologist Homer Thiel explores the other ways people found for applying fire to food in order to transform raw ingredients into meals. The…

Jan 1

Archaeology Archive: Native Ceramics from Block 136

Jim Heidke and Homer Thiel examine the use of Native American pottery in Tucson’s historic Barrio Libre. In 2001 Desert Archaeology conducted archaeological excavations on Block 136 in Tucson’s Barrio Libre. This barrio is located south of the downtown and was the home of many Mexican Americans, Native Americans, and…

Jun 6

Cerro de Trincheras and the Town of Trincheras, Sonora

Ceramic analyst Hunter Claypatch conducted his doctoral research on ceramic technology from northern Sonora and spent several months living in the town of Trincheras, Sonora. Here, he highlights the region's rich archaeology and culture (and tacos).  Cerro de Trincheras is a terraced volcanic archaeological site located within the town of…

May 26

Well, Well, Well: Obtaining Water at the Mission Site

Water is the the desert's most precious resource. As modern communities in the West grapple with dwindling supplies, Homer Thiel explores how people living near Tucson in the mid-19th century acquired water for their homes and gardens.  People need water for drinking, cooking, washing, and watering plants, among other uses.…

Apr 27

Archaeology Archive: Exploring Fairbank

Homer Thiel takes us on a road trip to Fairbank, Arizona, a ghost town just west of Tombstone, to explore not just the historic records of the town but the Hohokam settlement established in the same place a thousand years earlier. Back in the 1980s and early 1990s, the Center…

Mar 20

The Westside Canals

Archaeological work on the west side of the Santa Cruz River, to the north and south of West Congress Street, resulted in the documentation of the long history of water management in this area. What has been found? Homer Thiel provides answers. Pre-Contact ditches and canals The oldest irrigation ditch…

Mar 6

Maize and Experimental Archaeology

Dr. James Vint, Dr. Jenny Adams, and Dr. Mark Elson discuss Desert Archaeology experiments with maize. Sometimes archaeologists conduct experiments to better understand how things were done in the distant past. Over the years, Desert Archaeology researchers have conducted three different kinds of experiments to understand how maize was grown,…