Message #249: From: AzTeC SW Archaeology SIG To: "'Matthias Giessler'" Subject: Mammoth Find Date: Sat, 05 Jul 1997 12:59:05 -0700 A mammoth find in Valley It could have been an Ice Age barbecue or evidence that Chandler was once a Stone Age hangout. Thursday's discovery of woolly mammoth remains beneath a UDC Homes construction site near Chandler Boulevard and Gilbert Road may turn out to be one of the state's more significant archaeological finds, said Brad Archer, an Arizona State University geologist. Mammoths became extinct more than 10,000 years ago. A mammoth find in Valley By Edythe Jensen The Arizona Republic July 4, 1997 It could have been an Ice Age barbecue or evidence that Chandler was once a Stone Age hangout. Thursday's discovery of woolly mammoth remains beneath a UDC Homes construction site near Chandler Boulevard and Gilbert Road may turn out to be one of the state's more significant archaeological finds, said Brad Archer, an Arizona State University geologist. Mammoths became extinct more than 10,000 years ago. Archer was called by Chandler officials when city building inspector Bernard Schuster noticed some odd-looking white objects stuck in brown clay soil on the sides of a newly dug sewer trench. He figured they were bones. "You dig around long enough, and you're bound to run into a grave someplace," Schuster said. His supervisor advised him to contact ASU. Archer credits the inspector with saving rare evidence of the Ice Age East Valley and the most complete woolly mammoth skeleton ever found in Maricopa County. Grazers accustomed to cooler climates, mammoths roamed Arizona when it was lush, green and cool, Archer said. The one unearthed Thursday belonged to a variety called Mammuthus, which was smaller than an African elephant but with an elephantlike appearance and long fur, he said. "I'm sure there were many more sites like this that were just covered up because construction crews don't recognize them," he said. By the time Archer arrived, the Chandler mammoth remains had been broken by excavation equipment that dug a trench through the middle of the bones, chipping some of them into small pieces and tossing their ancient white particles atop piles of dirt next to the trenches. A tusk was sliced in half. Archer said only two other partial mammoth remains have been discovered in the Valley -- one excavated by Archer 12 years ago in Chandler in what is now the Springs housing development. The other was discovered more than 20 years ago in Scottsdale. The earlier finds included only a few bones or teeth. What appeared to be charcoal and unrelated bones at the Chandler site may make it even more significant, Archer said. The charcoal and haphazard arrangement of the mammoth bones could signify an Ice Age "kill site" where man hunted mammoth for food. If it is, this will be the first evidence of man in the Valley more than 10,000 years ago, Archer said. Evidence of human life during that era has been discovered in Tucson, but not around Phoenix, he said. Brushing dirt from bones and painting them with preservatives in the afternoon sun, Archer and volunteer archaeologist John Babiarz labored under intense heat in a narrow trench. They expected to spend their three-day holiday weekend getting the mammoth remains out because excavating crews for the new Dobson Place subdivision are scheduled to cover the sewer lines Monday. Construction crews had planned to cover them after Schuster's 10 a.m. inspection but stopped at his request. The buried lines soon will be covered with asphalt for a yet unnamed neighborhood street. If excavation of the mammoth takes longer or if other rare finds are unearthed, Chandler spokesman Dave Bigos said the city will ask UDC to delay this portion of the project and excavate another area of development first. "Who knows, when it comes time to name the street, we may be driving down Woolly Mammoth Boulevard," Bigos said. Efforts to contact UDC officials were unsuccessful Thursday. [photo/caption Mark Henle/The Arizona Republic: Volunteer archaeologist John Babiarz holds a piece of hardened clay that contains the tooth of a woolly mammoth -- the black triangular object. More information on the mammoth and a map of the find site: http://www.azcentral.com/news/0704mammap.shtml.