Archeological Dig Northwest Of Tucson Uncovers 2,800 Year-Old Settlement - Tucson News Now

Archeological Dig Northwest Of Tucson Uncovers 2,800 Year-Old Settlement

By Jim Becker, KOLD News 13 Reporter
Posted 10-28-05

Archeologists are finding the people who lived here three thousand years ago have more in common with us than we might think.

One thing that's fairly obvious, they came here because water was plentiful.

"You have water coming off of the slopes of the Tortolita and the Tucson Mountains, and this is where the Santa Cruz sort of spreads out, and so this would be a really prime place for agriculture," explains Michael Cook, Archeology Project Manager for Westland Resources, Inc.

It worked well for a time. Archeologists believe a big flood, similar in scale to the one in 1983, forced these ancient people to move, about 2,800 years ago.

Finding the artifacts, roughly seven feet below the surface, hasn't been all that easy. Sometimes, a subtle difference in the soil catches the eye, and it helps to use the ears too.

What they're finding is teaching us a lot, as to how they stored food, big pits underneath with small openings on top, plenty of space and easy to cover. They're finding food itself, some of the oldest corn found in southern Arizona.

They've also found spear tips for the hunters and figurines, some of them painted, maybe the oldest in southern Arizona. They've been found along with burnt antlers, suggesting some sort of ritual. They're made of clay, but they haven't been heated, presumably because people weren't building kilns yet.

The ancient people were nonetheless skillful. "They knew exactly what they were doing," said Jeff Charest, an archeologist digging at the site. "Food, shelter, water, stuff we have problems with today, getting water for the community, they had it all figured out."

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