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…

Aug 3

Black, Red, and Green: Abalone Shell Trade in the Ancient Southwest

Desert Archaeology project director Erina Gruner’s recent doctoral dissertation explored the exchange of ritual paraphernalia and exotic trade goods during the Chacoan and post-Chacoan periods (AD 875–1300) in the San Juan Basin, Here, she discusses the exchange of abalone shell by groups living in Arizona and New Mexico a thousand years…

Jul 15

Early Agricultural Period Ceramic Figurines

Jim Heidke, Desert Archaeology’s senior ceramic analyst, explores the clay figurines made by the earliest farmers in the Tucson Basin. At once recognizable and enigmatic, these small artifacts played an important but as-yet incompletely understood role in the lives of the Tucson Basin’s earliest farmers. Since 1986, Desert Archaeology and…

Feb 8

The Broken and the Whole: Cruciforms in the Tucson Basin

Desert Archaeology's ground stone analysts, Dr. Jenny Adams and Tessa Branyan, discuss a rare Early Agricultural period artifact type. What do the Las Capas, Los Pozos, Santa Cruz Bend, and Clearwater sites have in common, besides the fact that people lived in these settlements along the Santa Cruz River during…

Aug 10

Early Agricultural Period Shell Ornaments in the Tucson Basin

Desert Archaeology shell specialist Chris Lange provides an expanded version of a poster she presented at the 91st annual Pecos Conference (August 9-11, 2018) in Flagstaff, Arizona. Recent excavations at Early Agricultural period sites in the Tucson Basin have produced a number of marine shell ornaments.  Sites dating to the…

Nov 16

It Takes Both: Identifying Mano and Metate Types

Dr. Jenny Adams is Desert Archaeology's ground stone analyst, and is recognized both nationally and internationally as the authority in the field of ground stone technology. This week she talks about the basic tools of food grinding. When I first learned about manos and metates used in the U.S. Southwest…

Nov 3

Up in Smoke: A History of Tobacco in Tucson

Desert Archaeology paleoethnobotanist Dr. Michael Diehl joins up with historical archaeologist Homer Thiel to discuss Nicotiana sp. and its use through time in southern Arizona. In January 1964, Smoking and Health: Report of the Advisory Committee to the Surgeon General of the United States shocked American citizens by documenting the…