Message #89 From: AzTeC SW Archaeology SIG To: "'Matthias Giessler'" Date: Fri, 06 Mar 1998 Subject: Tempe Butte Archaeology [ AzTeC / SWA SASIG ] : [ The article fails to mention that archaeological features -- structures, prehistoric petroglyphs, early Spanish inscriptions -- are present on Tempe Butte, immediately to the north across the Salt River, and immediately to the south of Tempe Butte under ASU campus parking lots and buildings. The story needs to be put into greater context, but that sometimes is the problem with news reporting of CRM work -- SASIG Ed. ] http://www.azcentral.com/sev/news/0305dig.shtml Rio Salado Parkway route will travel back in time By Lisa Gonderinger The Arizona Republic March 5, 1998 Motorists on Tempe's Rio Salado Parkway soon will be driving over a piece of history. Archaeologists surveying the area recently found several Hohokam Indian artifacts near the northern base of Tempe Butte, right along the planned realignment of Rio Salado Parkway. The findings include floors of ancient Hohokam dwellings called pit houses that may be 850 years old, as well as hearths, roasting pots and ceramics. Movable pieces such as pottery will be excavated, studied and transferred to a museum. But it is impossible to move the foundations of the pit houses, so archaeologists will uncover the floors, run tests to determine their exact age, and document all the findings. The floors then will be covered back up and construction will begin on the parkway. "At that point, we've really done all we can do with the site," said Serelle Laine, projects manager with Valley-based Archaeological Research Services, which is handling the $49,000, city-funded dig. "Of course, the first thing we recommend when we find something is avoidance of the site, but in a case like this where that's not an option, all you can really do is study what you find, document it and rebury it." She said historians justify reburying the findings, often a necessity with construction projects, because all of the "data recovery potential" has been exhausted at that point. Also, there are several other examples of pit houses in the Valley and state. Laine said the findings show that some Hohokams lived on the butte, but it is too early to tell how many. The pottery indicates that the site probably dates to 1150 to 1300. The floors of the pit houses were burned, which was common, Laine said. The typical dwelling of the Hohokams consisted of a shallow square or rectangular pit that could be as much as four meters in diameter. Upright poles would support a set of brush walls and a ceiling. Because open hearths were also a key component in the houses, fires were common because of the brush walls. The excavation is part of a larger project that included tests at Tempe Beach Park that have uncovered a historic canal dating to 1870. It is believed to be one of the oldest irrigation canals in the Salt River Valley. After tests, it too will be reburied. The study also included an old warehouse at the now-closed Hayden Flour Mill. A historical architect photographed the building before it was torn down. Historians now believe there is an even older foundation underneath the mill that dates to 1893. The last leg of the project included looking for prehistoric material along the northern side of Tempe Butte. The parkway realignment is one of the first steps in the massive Rio Salado Town Lake, a project that is expected to transform the dry riverbed just north of Mill Avenue into a lake surrounded by major tourism, retail and entertainment destinations. Developers decided to realign the parkway, to turn the road from a high-speed road around Tempe to a road that connects downtown and the Rio Salado project. Construction on the realignment, which has risen from $4 million to $6.7 million, is expected to start in July. When done, the road will curve south at about Ash Avenue, making a corner that will run down to First Street. Then it will make another corner, turning east at Mill Avenue, and then curve around the Butte before reconnecting with the existing road. That last stretch is the one that will be over the pit house foundations. Archaeological Research Services will finish its dig before construction is allowed to begin. "I'd love to say this is a really significant finding, but it's not unique in the Valley," Laine said. "It's just another piece of the puzzle that will help us understand the big picture of the Hohokam in the Valley." However, the archaeologists can't help but be excited at the find. "We knew there was a possibility of pit houses in the area, especially with the river nearby, but it's always exciting when you actually do find them. Sometimes, it's like looking for a needle in a haystack."