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…

Aug 12

Remembering Quintus Monier and Brickyard Workers

The upcoming opening of a new building prompts Desert Archaeology project director Mike Diehl to revisit an early Tucson architect, his brickyard, and the workers who made the bricks that built city landmarks. In Autumn 2020, the Monier Building, a mixed-use 122 unit residential and 13,000 square foot commercial space,…

May 8

Zuni Pottery from the Presidio San Agustín del Tucson

Desert Archaeology historical archaeologist Homer Thiel and ceramic analyst Jim Heidke discuss the ceramics used by 18th-century residents of the Presidio, including some surprising souvenirs brought home by Spanish soldiers from a long-distance military expedition.  The Presidio San Agustín del Tucson was a Spanish and Mexican period (AD 1775-1856) fortress…

1918 Spanish flu ward Apr 8

We Have Been Here Before: A History of Epidemics in Southern Arizona

Historical archaeologist Homer Thiel provided information for a newspaper article on the 1918 Spanish flu, published by the Arizona Daily Star on April 6, 2020. This blog entry is an expanded presentation of Homer's research on the history of epidemics in the Tucson area. The appearance of the COVID-19 virus…

Feb 21

The Soldiers of the Presidio San Agustín del Tucson

Homer Thiel explores what documents and artifacts tell us about the the lives of the Spanish and Mexican soldiers who were garrisoned at the Presidio San Agustín del Tucson between 1775 and 1856. On August 20th, 1775, Hugo O'Conor, an Irishman employed by the Spanish military, selected the location of…

Church at Tucson on San Antonio's Day, 1860," from The Loyal West in the Times of the Rebellion by John W. Barber and Henry Howe, 1865 Jun 13

World Without End: Archaeology of the Catholic Church in Tucson

Homer Thiel details some of the history and artifacts connected to the Catholic Church in Tucson. In the mid-1690s, an Italian-born Jesuit priest, Father Francisco Eusebio Kino, set out from his mission in Dolores, Sonora, heading north into what is now southern Arizona. Kino was seeking to convert the local…

Feb 5

Home, Sweet Home in the Presidio San Agustín del Tucson

Historical archaeologist Homer Thiel takes us on a home tour of 18th- and 19th-century Presidio households. Tucson was a Spanish and then Mexican fortress from its establishment in 1775 until the last Mexican soldiers marched away in March 1856. During this 81-year time span, the average population numbered between 400…

Oct 12

Two Unusual Burials from the Court Street Cemetery

On October 15, 2018, Homer Thiel will be giving a talk at the monthly meeting of the Arizona Archaeological and Historical Society, titled "A Drear Bleak, Desolate Place: The Archaeology of the Court Street Cemetery.” The talk is open to the public and free; find details at the end of…