Roosevelt Community Development Study

Part of: Theodore Roosevelt Dam Archaeological Project

The Roosevelt Community Development Study (RCD) involved the testing and excavation of 27 sites in the Lower Tonto Basin of central Arizona. This is one of three related data recovery projects undertaken in the Tonto Basin for the Bureau of Reclamation prior to the raising of the Roosevelt Lake dam. The results of the RCD project are presented in four Anthropological Papers of the Center for Desert Archaeology: Anthropological Papers No. 12 is the research design; Anthropological Papers No. 13 (two volumes) contains background information and the site descriptions; Anthropological Papers No. 14 (three volumes) includes the artifact and environmental analyses; and this volume, Anthropological Papers No. 15, presents the synthesis and conclusions.

The project was situated within the Tonto National Forest and covered a four-mile, continuous area along the north bank of the Salt River. Sites within the project area exhibited a great range of functional, temporal, and cultural diversity. These sites included two with platform mounds (the Meddler Point and Pyramid Point sites), a 100-room masonry pueblo (the Griffin Wash site), smaller masonry compounds (e.g., the Porcupine site), and pithouse hamlets and farmsteads (e.g., the Hedge Apple and Eagle Ridge sites). Temporal components ranged from the Early Ceramic period (AD. 100-600) at Locus B of the Eagle Ridge site to the Roosevelt phase (AD. 1250-1350) of the Classic period. TIle Early Ceramic component of the Eagle Ridge site is now the earliest documented ceramic period site in the Tonto Basin and provides definitive evidence for an indigenous ceramic-using population. The project area was most intensively inhabited during the Roosevelt phase, when platform mounds, large pueblos, and small masonry compounds were occupied. Architectural and artifact variability suggest the presence of several different cultural groups co-residing in the Tonto Basin at this time. The RCD project area was largely abandoned by AD. 1325, prior to the large-scale aggregation that occurred during the Gila phase; very few Gila Polychrome sherds were recovered from project area sites.

The mandate of the RCD project, as specified by the Bureau of Reclamation, was to investigate the temporal and developmental sequence of the prehistoric populations within this area. To meet these goals, six sites were intensively examined through full-scale excavation, and an extensive data set was gathered from the remaining 21 sites.