Category: Uncategorized

Oct 22

Women in the Presidio San Agustín del Tucson

Homer Thiel examines the lives of people who have often been rendered invisible in history: the women who lived in the Tucson Presidio in the 18th and 19th centuries. Tucson, Arizona was a Spanish and Mexican military fortress (the Presidio San Agustín del Tucson) between 1776 and 1856. During this…

Sep 17

This Old House Group: Residential Permanence During the Early Cienega Phase

“Old” may only be 30-50 years. That’s still pretty cool. 2,500 years is cooler. Erina Gruner discusses spatial patterns in Tucson Basin early agriculturalist pithouse settlements during the Cienega phase, and what the grouping of houses and burials into “house groups” tells us about mobility, social organization, and land ownership.…

Aug 26

The Historic Era at Fort Lowell

Homer Thiel describes the history of some of the military structures you will see when visiting Fort Lowell park in Tucson. In 1873 the soldiers stationed at Camp Lowell in downtown Tucson (now Armory Park) packed up their tents, weapons, and equipment and moved several miles to the northeast. Poor…

Aug 16

Mobility and Pottery Production

Dr. Mary Ownby, Desert’s resident ceramic petrographer, discusses her recent ceramic characterization study in northeastern Colorado, which was published this summer in the Plains Anthropologist journal. When we think of ancient pottery making, we often picture a person sitting quietly, enjoying their craft near their house in a small village.…

Aug 9

The Hohokam of Fort Lowell: The Hardy Site

Homer Thiel talks about the Hardy Site and what the structures and artifacts recorded there teach us about Hohokam lifeways in the eastern Tucson Basin. The word Hohokam refers to the archaeological culture that existed in the Sonoran Desert from about AD 500 to 1450. The Hohokam are well known…

Jul 27

The Ancestral Native American Past in Downtown Tucson

Homer Thiel takes a long view of Downtown, detailing the traces of people who lived in the area thousands of years before Europeans arrived in what is now southern Arizona. Hidden beneath the streets, sidewalks, parking lots, and buildings of downtown Tucson are traces of our community's Ancestral Native American…

Stylized snippet of an oil paining of San Agustin Jul 19

The History of the San Agustín Festival in Tucson

Homer Thiel discusses a long-celebrated late summer festival in Tucson, and how the tradition of the San Agustín Festival helped us make sense of a dense archaeological deposit near the Historic Pima County Courthouse in downtown Tucson. During the Territorial Period (1856-1912), residents of Tucson celebrated three festivals. The San…

Line drawing of a bowl of ice cream superimposed on a historic photograph of downtown Tucson Jun 29

The First Ice Cream in Tucson

Historical archaeologist Homer Thiel comes to the rescue with tales of cold, sweet historical relief from the heat. Tucson and much of the rest of the Southwestern United States are undergoing record-breaking heat. In was hot in the past too, especially in early Territorial period (1856-1912) Tucson. One way to…

Oct 22

E. J. Smith: Tucson’s First Professional Undertaker

During the Presidio (1775-1856) and early Territorial (1856-early 1900s) periods, family members and friends cared for the bodies of deceased people in Tucson. Local carpenters nailed together coffins, sometimes decorating them with paint and fabric. Religious leaders or friends conducted the funeral, and then the bodies were buried in the…