Message #177
From: AzTeC SW Archaeology SIG
To:   "'Matthias Giessler'" 

Date: Fri, 29 May 1998 16:51:11
Subject: BRI's "View From The Trenches" Vol. 1 No. 2 

[ AzTeC / SWA SASIG ] :

[ SASIG Ed. Note: See Also Vol. 1 No. 1 ]

From: Laurie Slawson 

The Quarterly Newsletter of Belagana Research Institute
Spring 1998 Vol.1, No. 2

Editor’s Note
by Jennifer K.K. Huang, editor

Although this is the second issue of The Trenches,
some of you are receiving it for the first time,
and I would like to welcome you to this newsletter
on behalf of both Belagana Research Institute and
Aztlan Archaeology, Inc.

Through this newsletter we hope to inform you of
our current projects, and also entertain you with
our irrepressible archaeological wit. I believe
that this issue offers a good portion of both
information and entertainment.

Our front page story explores the history of what
is really only a small section of land in downtown
Tucson. But our investigations have revealed that
the cultural activity on this tiny piece of ground
runs deep--evidence of a prehistoric Hohokam
occupation, artifacts of the historic Presidio
period, and many 19th century European goods were
unearthed. It is truly an amazing testament to the
commonality of our human nature regardless of time
constraints or cultural boundaries.

On the lighter side, we’ve included another
edition of Joe Howell’s Currents column, a piece
of Mark Sullivan’s poetry collection, and Bob
Rowe’s personal account of our trip to Seattle.
Good digging!

Downtown Tucson Site Uncovered in Museum of Art

by Morgan Rieder, M.A., Senior Archaeologist/
Historical Architect, Aztlan Archaeology, Inc.

In October and November of 1997, Aztlan Archaeology
conducted archaeological testing and data recovery
at the Tucson Museum of Art in downtown Tucson.
The Museum had undertaken a program of expansion
that included construction of a new wing and a
sculpture patio in place of a parking lot on the
east side of the existing building, within the area
bounded by Alameda on the south and the historic
Córdova House on the north. The construction site
was within the former presidio of Tucson, dating
from the Spanish Viceregal and Mexican Republic
periods, which overlay the remains of Hohokam
settlement on the terrace above the Santa Cruz
River. Later, during the U.S. Territorial period,
the site was graced by a two-story adobe house
built in the Italianate Style for the Jacobs
Brothers, early Tucson merchants and bankers.

Aztlan Archaeology was selected by the Museum to
conduct archaeological monitoring during
construction.  Despite the site’s rich cultural
associations, few--if any--intact cultural deposits
were expected to have survived the extensive
disturbance of the archaeological record that
occurred when the Museum was originally built in
the 1970s. However, excavation for the new
construction soon uncovered intact deposits from
the prehistoric and historic occupations of the
site. After testing to determine the extent of the
deposits, Aztlan Archaeology recommended mitigative
data recovery within the areas that would be
directly impacted by construction; wherever
possible, intact deposits were to be preserved in
place and the locations recorded for future
reference. The Arizona State Museum assigned this
site the same number--AZ BB:13:9--as the site
located a block east that was excavated in 1954
and found to contain a Hohokam pit house and what
appeared to be a portion of the presidio wall.

Archaeological excavations for data recovery began
in mid-October and continued to the end of
November.  Prehistoric remains consisted of a
hearth and refuse deposits that yielded Hohokam
ceramics, flaked stone, ground stone, and worked
shell.  Dating from the presidial era was an
extensive refuse deposit beneath the sidewalk
along Alameda containing multiple ash lenses,
charcoal, and bone.  Native ceramics recovered
from this deposit consisted of sherds of Papago
Plain and Papago Red, representing storage and
cooking vessels produced by Tohono O’odham potters
and used by the inhabitants of the presidio.
Ceramics brought from Mexico consisted of a
relatively large number of sherds of majolica, as
well as sherds of Mexican lead-glazed red ware.
Majolica types recovered from the deposit
represented the Puebla Blue-on-white and Aranama
Polychrome traditions. Excavated refuse deposits
dating from the U.S. Territorial period yielded a
variety of ceramic, glass, and metal artifacts.
Fragments of French porcelain, champagne bottles,
and elegant stemware may have come from the Jacobs
house. A fragment of a stone masonry wall uncovered
in the middle of the site was identified as a
portion of the foundation of the house (demolished
in 1968 in the course of urban renewal) and was
excavated during data recovery.

After complete artifact analyses, a full report
will be published and made available by Aztlan

Arizona Book Festival Review
by Mark Sullivan, Senior Archaeologist, Aztlan
Archaeology, Inc.

Belagana Research Institute’s booth at the (first
annual?) Arizona Book Festival was well situated;
we had an excellent view of the central stage and
the new Phoenix Central Library, and our location
on the midway gave the strolling bibliophiles easy
access to our stall. Although our selection was
small and its subject matter specialized -- we were
the only archaeological institute, company, or gang
in attendance -- several of our original volumes
generated enough interest that we sold a number of
copies. Especially popular were the Hohokam Coloring
Book and The Relics of Scorpion Village.

It was a warm and breezy day and the crowd was
large and in good humor. Joe Howell (who manned
the booth with me) and I took turns visiting the
other booths: publishers, used-book sellers,
authors signing their latest work, and bookbinderies
all vied for their share of attention. I even got
to shake hands with Quentin Crisp!

Belagana Research Institute extends a sincere
"thank you" to the Arizona Humanities Council for
the grant that made our attendance at this pleasant,
worthwhile, and interesting event possible. 

Aztlan Goes to Seattle
by Bob Rowe, Archaeologist/Paleontologist,
Aztlan Archaeology, Inc.

Four members of Aztlan’s staff (Laurie Slawson,
Webster Hansen, Jenny Huang, and I) attended the
March 25-29 annual meeting of the Society for
American Archaeology in Seattle, Washington. Our
schedule was jammed; between the four of us we had
two papers and two posters to present, a booth to
be manned, and sight-seeing, not to mention
enjoying the cool weather.

Our first big dilemma was trying to fit all of our
luggage and the large box containing the display
board (which we came to fondly call "the Behemoth")
into the rental car. You know, it is amazing how
much stuff you can get into a Plymouth Breeze when
you have to! The Behemoth stretched from the trunk
through the inverted back seat, the suitcases were
stacked to the ceiling, Laurie was sitting the best
she could against it all in the back, Webster was
driving, Jenny was sitting on the console, and I
was in the passenger seat, navigating.  We looked
like a can of sardines on the go! We were
definitely ready to abandon the car when we arrived
at the meeting’s host hotel after a long 25-minute
drive. The bellhops just stood there in amazement
as we pulled all the stuff out, kind of like a
magician pulling a rabbit out of his hat. Later that
afternoon we set up our display in the hall of the
Washington State Convention Center and took the
evening off.

Thursday, March 26, was the first actual day of
the meeting. The Aztlan/Belagana booth was manned
throughout the meeting by the four of us in various
combinations according to the sessions we wanted
to attend.  The booth was in an ideal location,
situated on a corner across from the SAA booth. We
had the Behemoth set up with pictures of various
projects that we have done in the last few years.
We also had copies of various reports, the coloring
books, and t-shirts for sale.  The Aztlan/Belagana
booth was the only booth of a CRM firm; the other
booths were various governmental agencies,
tool-making companies, or publishing houses.

Of the four of us, Jenny’s poster was the first to
be presented on the afternoon of the 26th. It was
entitled Cruel Irony: Prehistoric Freshwater
Sources in the American Southwest Contaminated
with Naturally Dissolved Arsenic. She was cool,
calm, and professional; you would have had a hard
time believing that this was her first paper. Her
poster was set up logically and was an eye-catching

It was Webster’s turn on Friday afternoon.  His
poster session was entitled The Skyborne Witness:
The Use of Blimps for Aerial Photography at
Archaeological Excavations. Webster was a little
nervous, but quickly settled into the routine of
explaining his poster to what seemed to be a very
eager crowd. The aerial photos of various sites
were very informative, and people went away
convinced that blimps are a viable and steady
platform for aero-photos in archaeology.

Saturday afternoon was Laurie’s and my turn to
present our papers. I found out that my paper,
which was designed to be presented right after
Laurie’s, was actually scheduled to go an hour
before hers. After a quick rewrite of the
introduction it was ready to fly. My paper,
entitled The Ceramic Disks of Scorpion Village:
Not Just for Spindle Whorls Anymore, was presented
with no problems. The paper was well received with
several individuals requesting a copy. Laurie’s
presentation of The Turquoise Traders of the Silver
Bells had a rough start. A few minutes after she
began, the bulb in the slide projector blew out.
She had to stop until a replacement bulb was
located, and then she began all over again. This
time the presentation went off without a hitch; 
he didn’t even trip over the tongue twister in her
paper ("Encinitas culture scoria discoidal").

We dismantled the Behemoth  that evening, giving
us the remainder of the weekend to see some of the
sites of Seattle. We visited the Space Needle and
the Pike Place Market, where Laurie and Jenny
couldn’t resist the fresh salmon and halibut.

The meeting was a great opportunity for the company
to get its name out. We made good impressions with
our four papers, met new contacts, and learned
that archaeologists do clean up well!

All of the abstracts for our papers, and the entire
contents of Laurie’s and my papers, are on-line at
the Aztlan Archaeology homepage at

Aztlan Currents
by Joseph Howell, Senior Archaeologist, Aztlan
Archaeology, Inc.

Hi, everyone!  Welcome to another Aztlan Currents,
the column that keeps you up to date on AAI’s
current projects.  

Data recovery in Hieroglyphic Mountains 

During the week of April 20, Jenny Huang, Bob
Rowe, and I, under the direction of Mark Sullivan,
completed the first phase of data recovery at six
prehistoric sites in the Hieroglyphic Mountains,
not too far from the Lake Pleasant Recreation Area
in central Arizona.  This project is being
conducted as part of the required environmental
assessment relating to a land exchange for the
Bureau of Land Management. The fieldwork is being
completed in stages, the first of which involved
mapping the sites and preparing them for
excavation (establishing grid systems,
ascertaining surface artifact distributions, and
so forth). We expect to move on to the next phase
(surface collection and excavation) in about a month.

Right now is a great time of the year to be in the
field; it’s not too hot (yet!) and the desert is
in bloom and very beautiful. Everything except the
saguaros seemed to be flowering, from the saltbush
to the cholla to the palo verde trees (the down
side of this was that it wasn’t too good for
Mark’s hay fever). The desert animals were out and
about, too. Aside from what is certainly the
biggest black-tailed jackrabbit I’ve ever seen
(it looked liked it could give an adult javalina a
run for its money), we observed about a dozen wild
burros in the area around the sites, an uncommon
and special treat.

The six sites are quite interesting. There is one
rather large site on a knoll around which four
other, smaller, sites are clustered; one more site
is located a couple miles away from this small
throng. All appear to be Hohokam, except possibly
one site that may date from Archaic times (it
consists of just a low-density lithic scatter). The
large site on the knoll has two pit houses with
basalt masonry foundation walls. These houses, one
of which is rectangular, the other more circular,
overlook a wide valley toward the northeast.

Another site, situated on the side of a hill that
lies a short distance to the west of the knoll,
consists of a large number of lithics, many of
which are tools that appear to be unfinished. This
may have been a lithic tool manufacture area that
is probably contemporaneous with the site on the
knoll. The analysis of the "proto-tools" from this
site may perhaps shed some insight into the stone
flaking techniques that were used in the area.

The other sites orbiting the knoll (besides the
potentially Archaic site and the lithic tool site)
each lie roughly an eighth of a mile away and are
pretty standard Hohokam lithic/sherd/ground stone
scatters. The site mentioned above that is distant
from the "cluster" has a masonry foundation
structure, but this structure is smaller than
either of the two on the knoll, and is perhaps
better defined as a "field house," although it is
similar in design to the rectangular house on the

The next Aztlan Currents will detail the excavation
of these sites, which should prove very exciting.
We’re all looking forward to the next phase of the
project, despite the fact that the weather probably
won’t be nearly as cool. Until then!