Message #175:
From: AzTeC SW Archaeology SIG
To:   "'Matthias Giessler'" 
Subject: Most Remarkable Engineering Features 
Date: Wed, 07 May 1997 16:01:36 -0700


Page A10, The Tribune, Wednesday May 7, 1997  -- 

Road Leads to Buried Hohokam Secrets -- By John Yantis, The Tribune 
-- Mesa -- 

Prehistoric man is being disturbed by roadwork near the Salt River bed. 
Archaeologists think they have discovered at least one prehistoric
Hohokam Indian home and two ancient canals.  The finds were uncovered
while doing routine highway widening alongside Gilbert Road just north
of McDowell Road.  Experts excavating the site believe there is likely
one, and possibly two, Hohokam pit houses that date to between A.D. 1000
to 1100.  They also expect to uncover canals that fed water from the
Salt River to what is now the Lehi area of Mesa for farming. 
Archaeologists won't know for sure whether they've discovered homes
until they begin poking through the layers of a 5-foot trench dug
Monday.  Further excavation is expected to resume today.  "It's awlfully
big for a pit house so I'm not sure what it is," said Victoria Vargas,
leader of the excavation.  -- Canals An Engineering Feat --  The
prehistoric canals were cut into a terrace southwest of the site so that
the top of it could be farmed by the Hohokam, and later the Maricopa
Indians and early Mormon settlers.  The terrace is three stories higher
than the valley floor.  Hohokam engineers used fire-hardened digging
sticks and baskets strapped to their backs to haul dirt while building
the canals.  "It's probably one of the most remarkable engineering
features the Hohokam were able to pull off in the Valley," said Jerry
Howard, a curator of anthropology at Mesa Southwest Museum.  Experts
believe what they've found may be part of a larger village buried under
the area.  They hope to use what's gleaned from the site to determine
how communities in the area interacted with each other and how water
might have affected the Hohokam's disappearance in 1350.  The site is a
narrow strip of land between Gilbert road and private property. 
Maricopa County Department of Transportation officials plan left turn
lanes and signals at the McDowell intersection to alleviate traffic
congestion.  The road is a major thoroughfare for commuters between Mesa
and the Fountain Hills and Beeline Highway areas.  -- Successful
Detective Work -- The widening of the intersection meant the area had to
undergo a routine environmental survey, said Brian Kenny, a county
anthropologist.  It showed no artifacts but Kenny, armed with historic
maps that detailed large prehistoric Hohokam villages near Lehi, asked
for a test of the area.  The study showed several hundred artifacts and
an organized excavation began.  One of the houses being excavated may
have been partially or completely burned, Kenny said.  Burned pit homes
often are a bonanza for archaeologists because the Hohokam abandoned
them after fires, leaving everything behind.  If human remains are found
at the site, the local Indian community would be notified under a burial
agreement.  The site could be telling for archaeologists because the
artifiacts that will be found are from a time when the Hohokam society
began to experience problems with its social and political structure,
Howard said.  More and more, villages had to cooperate to share water,
he said.

Dwelling Remnants Unearth Clues to Ancient Valley Life  -- By John
Yantis -- The Tribune
As the Valley has grown, excavators have unearthed through the years
numerous signs of ancient Hohokam ruins in the Phoenix metropolitan
area, primarily close to the Salt River.  The lates findings near
Gilbert Road and the river appear to be among the most extensive in
recent years.  The Hohokam were an ancient group of American Indians
believed to be the first inhabitants of what is now known as the Valley
of the Sun.  They were village-dwelling farmers and artisans, who
developed elaborate irrigation networks that branched from the river and
became a blueprint of sorts for the canal system that dots the metro
area today.  Hohokams fashioned homes by digging holes in the ground and
smothering the bottoms with plaster to make a floor.  A wooden
structure, covered with branches and vegetation, was built over the
floor, creating a domelike structure with an entrance that looked
similar to igloos.  The homes contained a clay-lined hearth used for
charcoal fires to keep warm.  Artifacts normally found adjacent to pit
homes include grinding stones for corn, stone tools, bits of shell from
the West Coast used for jewelry and ceramics.

Photo Caption:  Dig It: Kris Shepard, an archaeologist with Dames &
Moore, sifts through soil Monday at a construction site on Gilbert Road
just north of McDowell Road. Photo Credit: Toru Kanawa/Tribune

Photo Caption:  Pieces of the Past:  Angela Scheloy, an archaeologist
with Dames & Moore, displays pieces of Hohokam Indian pottery found at
the Gilbet Road dig site.  Photo Credit: Toru Kanawa/Tribune

Graphic: Ancient Hohkam Ruins -- Archaeologists are excavating a site
believed to contain Hohokam Indian ruins that date from A.D. 1000 to
1100.  The area was discovered when Maricopa County planned to widen
Gilbert Road near the Intersection of McDowell Road.  Source Dames &
Moore;  John W. Flemming / Tribune