Arizona Archaeological Council

2011 AAC Fall Conference

From Without and Within: Long-Distance Interactions, Culture Change, and Culture Contact in Arizona

Organized by Dr. William Graves
2011 AAC President

October 28, 2011
Arizona Historical Society Museum
Tucson, AZ

held in conjunction with the 69th Annual Plains Anthropological Conference

The 2011 AAC Fall Conference, entitled “From Without and Within: Long-Distance Interactions, Culture Change, and Culture Contact in Arizona”, reflected the AAC's partnership with a regional conference devoted to understanding Plains history and prehistory. The theme emphasized archaeological research that explores regional or inter-regional interactions and relationships in Arizona's past. It drew attention to scales of human practice and behaviors that are often the focus of inter-regional studies in Southwest archaeology.
The conference featured 15 scholarly presentations that considered interaction and culture change in Arizona prehistory. 

Conference Sponsors

Archaeological Consulting Services, Ltd.

Desert Archaeology, Inc.

EcoPlan Associates

environmental planning group  (EPG)

Gulf South Research Corporation (GSRC)

Logan Simpson Design, Inc.


Statistical Research, Inc.

SWCA Environmental Consultants

WestLand Resources, Inc.

Conference Program 

Conference Abstracts

Phenotypic Variability of the First Farmers in the Sonoran Desert
Rachael M. Byrd and James T. Watson, University of Arizona

Cranial phenotypic variability reflects the genetic diversity of Early Agricultural period (circa 2100 b.c.–a.d. 50) people living throughout the lowland-desert southwestern United States and northwest Mexico. Shared material culture, increasing sedentism, mixed foraging-farming subsistence, and long-distance trade are found during this time throughout the region. Cranial morphometrics provide a method for understanding how microevolutionary processes affect phenotypic variation within and between site populations. Here we test the hypothesis that post-marital residence patterns and interactions through trade and migration occurring at Early Agricultural sites contribute to a widespread genetic diversity underlying a shared cultural continuity.

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The Unsettled Sedentary in Southern Arizona
William L. Deaver, WestLand Resources, Inc.

The Sedentary Period (a.d. 950–1150) is an unsettled time as people across southern Arizona abandon older settlements and move to new locations. This trend is coupled with the abandonment of ball court ceremonialism and changes in regional interaction. The Dragoon Culture appears within this milieu. This paper argues that the regionally unifying Colonial Hohokam cultural system collapses and is replaced by factionalism during the Sedentary period. This is evident at the settlement and regional levels. The Dragoon culture is presented as an example of displaced social groups retaining the Gila Basin Hohokam cultural pattern, contrary to the regional trend.

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Social Identity and Political Competition in a Culturally Diverse Landscape: Decorated Pottery from the Mescal Wash Site, Southeastern Arizona  
Christopher P. Garraty, Gila River Indian Community

An analysis of Middle Formative period (a.d. 750–950) decorated sherds from the Mescal Wash Site in southeastern Arizona highlights the use of painted serving vessels as media for expressing social identity under conditions of political competition and instability. Southeastern Arizona was a culturally diverse landscape, and interaction among peoples of different backgrounds was recurrent, creating a heightened awareness of identity. A large excavated collection and fine-grained chronology permitted a detailed quantitative study of changes in decorated ceramic use, which suggests that social identities were fluid and ephemeral in response to rampant social change and disruption.

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Population Movement and Cultural Identity in Southeastern Arizona: A View from Upper San Pedro Village
Maren Hopkins and Douglas B. Craig, Northland Research, Inc
Several Native American groups in the Greater Southwest (e.g., O’odham, Hopi, Zuni, Apache) recognize the San Pedro River Valley of southeastern Arizona to be part of their ancestral homeland. The diverse, multicultural heritage of the San Pedro Valley is also reflected in the archaeological record. However, most of the archaeological examples of cultural or ethnic co-residence are from late prehistory. In particular, much attention has been paid to the displacement of Ancestral Puebloan populations from the northern Southwest after a.d. 1200 and their subsequent migration to the San Pedro Valley, where they are believed to have lived alongside Ancestral Desert (Hohokam) populations with deep historical roots. In this paper, we focus on the pre-Classic or Formative period, ca. a.d. 700–1200, and discuss the evidence for population movement and ethnic co-residence at Upper San Pedro Village, a large habitation site along the U.S.-Mexico border. Based on a consideration of the site’s domestic architecture, material culture, and mortuary remains, we argue that Ancestral Desert and Ancestral Puebloan groups were likely in co-residence much earlier than previously supposed. The evidence from Upper San Pedro Village further suggests that the site’s residents made efforts to express and maintain their cultural identities over time and across large distances. 
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The Role of Shell in Interregional Interaction between the Hohokam System and the Chumash Village of Humaliwo in Southern California
Michael Merrill, Arizona State University 

I provide preliminary evidence of interregional interaction between the Hohokam system and a major Chumash coastal village in southern California between a.d. 900 and 1050. Analysis focuses on shell from the Grewe site, Gila Bend area sites, and Humaliwo (CA-LAn-264), a major political center near the southern end of the Chumash territory. Context and patterning of shell in burials provides evidence of interaction between elites from each of these areas. In this case, shell may be important symbols of elite group membership and identity associated with esoteric knowledge and power from distant places. 
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Archaeology and Alluvial Chronology of San Cristobal Wash: A Radiocarbon Dated Patayan Occupation in the Western Papaguería, Southwestern Arizona
Jesse A.M. Ballenger and Jason D. Windingstad, Statistical Research, Inc. 
Geological investigations at Stoval Airfield in the San Cristobal Valley revealed a thick late Pleistocene-Holocene stratigraphic sequence. Limited archaeological testing of ephemeral “artifact scatters” led to the discovery of a buried pit structure and nearby pit. Radiocarbon dates indicate that these features were utilized around a.d. 1000. Ceramics collected from the project area indicate that Patayan groups frequented the site, and there is macrobotanical evidence for a summer occupation. These preliminary findings support previous interpretations that the San Cristobal Valley marked an important boundary between Hohokam and Patayan activities. 
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Long-Distance Travel in the Prehispanic Southwest: Trails and Travel Corridors in the Rainbow Valley, Maricopa County, Arizona
Steve Swanson, Arizona State University and EPG, Inc., and Dustin Sunderman, EPG, Inc. 
The movement of prehistoric people across the landscape often leaves only ephemeral traces that can become obscured or erased by subsequent land use, occupation, or geomorphological processes. In the Rainbow Valley area southwest of the Phoenix Basin, low population densities and stable landforms have preserved Prehispanic trails and travel corridors, identified during recent pedestrian surveys. An examination of the features and artifacts associated with the trails, as well as their orientation and landscape context, inform on the physical and ritual nature of long-distance travel by Hohokam and Patayan peoples. 
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The Transient Heritage of Undocumented Border Crossers in the Arizona Desert  
Gabriella Soto, University of Arizona 
Every year, tens of thousands of illegal immigrants enter the United States by crossing its southwestern land border. This region has become a “contested landscape,” created by the transit of “anonymous” human beings, and the material traces of their clandestine and ephemeral presence. Backpacks, water bottles, and clothing are the markers of what in effect is a horizontal stratigraphy of a contemporary archaeological record. Other discarded and/or deliberately left behind items establish a sense of place and belonging in a foreign and often hostile territory. An interdisciplinary approach to landscape formation in contested space is adopted here and aims to investigate the social, economic, and emotional dimensions of such activities. 
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Continuity and Change in Late Hohokam and Mexico Interaction
Suzanne Fish and Paul R. Fish, University of Arizona 
Mexican influences during the pre-Classic are acknowledged frequently as setting the Hohokam apart from other Southwest cultures, particularly in religious practice and iconography. We contend that the Classic period Hohokam continued to incorporate primary ideological, institutional, and technological inspirations from their connections to the south. Differential incorporation of Mexican modes is examined from the perspectives of ideology and iconographic expressions, concepts of public and residential architecture, multi-step craft technologies, and novel ways of food preparation and consumption. We discuss the puzzling geographic gap that exists between Hohokam territory and the northernmost Mexican parallels. 
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Macaw Symbolism and Ritual at Grasshopper Pueblo and Paquimé
Stephanie M. Whittlesey and J. Jefferson Reid, University of Arizona 
One of the clearest examples of long-distance trade and interaction is the exchange of live scarlet macaws (Ara macao) between Paquimé in northern Chihuahua and various pueblo communities of the U.S. Southwest. Our paper examines the distribution and treatment of macaws at Grasshopper Pueblo and contrasts these observations with Paquimé. Although Paquimé is usually cited as a breeding and distribution center for macaws, the residents also were conspicuous consumers of their own goods, sacrificing hundreds of macaws in what may have been annual ceremonies. The differences between Grasshopper Pueblo and Paquimé, above and beyond conspicuous consumption, suggest the variable ways a single, highly symbolic bird was incorporated into Southwestern religion and ritual, with implications for transmission and transformation of cultural information. 
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Regional Interaction and Culture Change in Flagstaff and Sedona, Northern Arizona

Daniel Garcia, EcoPlan Associates 
GIS-based studies have the potential to shed light on broad patterns of ancient regional interaction and cultural change. Two examples from Northern Arizona are presented. The first example, which involves the spatial distribution of Sinagua, Cohonina, and Kayenta plain ceramic wares in the region surrounding Flagstaff, identifies changes that may represent shifts in ancient a territories and suggests some startling evidence of aggression. The second example involves a study of 1,200 Archaic through ethnohistoric period archaeological site attributes and environmental variables in the region surrounding Sedona and sheds light on patterns of habitation and agriculture that span 1,500 years of history. 
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Hohokam Pottery Recipes through the Pre-Classic: An Analysis of Clay Chemistries and Clay Mixing
Sophia Kelly, School of Human Evolution and Social Change, Arizona State University 
Throughout the history of Hohokam pottery production, potters manipulated pottery paste compositions in order to create specifically desired ceramic recipes. For instance, potters carefully controlled the chemistry of red-on-buff pottery paste in order to lighten the surface color and to prevent lime spalling. Recent research suggests that these ceramic technologies may have been even more complex than previously imagined. Potters may have selected clays of different compositions and then mixed them within their pottery pastes. This paper examines chemical data from LA-ICP-MS analyses to assess (1) if Hohokam potters were mixing clays of different compositions, and (2) if the incidence of clay mixing in decorated pottery production shifted through time. The results will provide insight on changes in technological decisions over the course of one of the richest prehistoric pottery traditions in the American Southwest. 
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A Scatter of Flaked Stone at the Crossroads of the Southwest?
A. E. (Gene) Rogge, URS Corporation 
The discovery and Arizona Register evaluation of site AZ AA:12:1046 (ASM), a nondescript scatter of flaked stone, is recounted as a tale of twists and turns that ended with a surprise visit by the Princes of Serendip. The site was found in the northern Tucson Basin on a Pleistocene terrace overlooking the Santa Cruz River opposite the confluence of Cañada del Oro. No features were identified at the site, and chronological evidence is weak but suggests the site represents a palimpsest of multiple, brief uses during the Early Agricultural period and Hohokam era. Collection of surface artifacts and excavation of test units yielded more than 3,300 items, including 15 pieces of obsidian large enough to source with energy dispersive x-ray fluorescence spectrometry. The small sample proved to be amazingly diverse. Seven sources are represented, including every known source within 100–250 km to the west, north, and east, as a well as a piece from northern New Mexico, approximately 600 km away, indicating that some of the groups that used the site had extensive spheres of interaction.
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Obsidian Procurement and Consumption at University Indian Ruin, Tucson, Arizona
Paul R. Fish, University of Arizona; Suzanne Fish, University of Arizona; Chris Loendorf, Gila River Indian Community; and Craig M. Fertelmes, Gila River Indian Community 
EDXRF analyses of 214 obsidian artifacts from varied proveniences at the University Indian Ruin, Tucson, Arizona, provides insight into unusual aspects of resource-procurement and consumption patterns during the late Classic period in southern Arizona. Although the study documents considerable diversity in utilized source areas, more than 95 percent of the obsidian comes from four locations: Government Mountain, Los Vidrios, Sauceda, and Mule Creek/Antelope Creek/Mule Mountain. The use of a limited number of distant and directionally varied resources are examined in terms of context of recovery, regional exchange systems, circulation of finished products versus raw materials, and regional demographic heterogeneity.
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Late Classic Exchange: A University Indian Ruin Perspective 

Maren Hopkins, Matthew Pailes, Suzanne Fish, Paul R. Fish, and James T. Watson; University of Arizona

The University of Arizona Archaeological Field School at University Indian Ruin in Tucson recently excavated two Late Classic period adobe rooms. One is adjacent to the site’s platform mound and one is elsewhere in the settlement, but each was intentionally closed in a unique manner at termination of use. Room residents differentially acquired a variety of polychrome types and distant resources including obsidian from widespread sources, exotic cherts, and pottery of Zuni and Sonoran origin. Together with earlier materials recovered from the site, these recent excavations offer insights into the lively exchange of the late Prehispanic era.
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