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…

Jan 24

Meat: What’s for Breakfast, Lunch, and Supper!

Desert Archaeology zooarchaeologist Jenny Waters and historical archaeologist Homer Thiel talk about how archaeologists use animal bone to explore the meats eaten by people in the past. There were probably few, if any, vegans or vegetarians in southern Arizona during the pre-contact, Spanish, Mexican, or American Territorial periods. People hunted…

Desert Archaeology Tucson DBE woman-owned cultural resources management rabbit Feb 9

Rabbit, Rabbit: The Small, Furry, and Fast Dietary Staple of Ancient Arizona

Desert Archaeology zooarchaeologist Jenny Waters teams with Homer Thiel this week to explore the go-to protein source for ancient inhabitants of the Sonoran Desert. Content advisory: this post contains a historic photograph of the aftermath of a jackrabbit hunt. Ten years ago Desert Archaeology conducted excavations at a portion of…

Nov 23

Suppertime at the Presidio San Agustín del Tucson

Historical archaeologist Homer Thiel starts off the fall/winter feasting season with a look at the foods prepared by residents of Tucson during the Presidio era. It's that time of year when residents of Tucson sit down for big meals at various holidays. We go to our local supermarkets or farmers…

May 26

Experimental Archaeology: Traditional Maize Gardening and Grinding

Jenny Adams, Desert Archaeology’s resident internationally recognized expert on ground stone technology, writes this week's blog about collaborating with heritage gardener Joyce Rychener. Everyone should know about Joyce Rychener and her Heritage Garden project at Steam Pump Ranch in Oro Valley, Arizona. Her work at the garden, growing heirloom crops using…

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 flotation sample analysis Mar 31

What’s in that Bag of Dirt? Flotation Samples and Archaeology

Michael Diehl, Desert Archaeology’s resident paleoethnobotanist, brings us the first installment of an occasional series about the world of flotation samples. Buy a five-pound bag of flour. Dump out the flour. Grab a spade, head out into your yard, and shovel in enough dirt to fill the bag. Fill your…