Archaeological Investigations in the Adobe Dam Project Area

Author(s): J. Simon Bruder

Year: 1983


The Adobe 4 archaeological mitigation program was carried out at the site of a flood control dam to be constructed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on Skunk Creek in north Phoenix, Arizona. The project area, which covers approximately 750 h, is situated 30 km north of the Salt River. Thus, it is located within the northern Hohokam periphery. This study presents information concerning prehistoric land use in the study area during the Colonial and Sedentary periods.

The primary goal of the study was to delimit the kind, extent, and temporal duration of aboriginal land use in the Adobe 4 project area. Those findings were then related to more general questions concerning possible relationships between the Hohokam core area and the northern peripheral zone.

Five archaeological sites and 26 field loci were investigated. These include one small habitation unit, a ground stone quarry, a chipped stone quarry, a 300,000 square meter administrative site area which yielded evidence of both chipped stone procurement and generalized exploitation adjacent to riparian zones, an agricultural site (located north of the project area), and 26 small, surface lithic scatters. A possible canal segment, a check dam, and several small, dry-laid stone masonry rooms of unknown age were also located in the study area. Evidence of ground stone manufacture and quarrying activities in the Adobe 4 area constitute the first clear- cut indications of this undoubtedly important (but overlooked) economic activity to be discovered in south-central Arizona.

This investigation employed a multidisciplinary approach. In addition to archaeological investigations, an extensive consideration of the paleohydrology of Skunk Creek was undertaken, as were studies concerning modern vegetation in the project area, and the analysis of macrofloral, faunal, and pollen remains, and of a cremation from the habitation site.

A consideration of radiocarbon, archaeomagnetic and comparative archaeological data suggests that prehistoric use of the Adobe 4 area occurred primarily between A.D. 800 and 1100+. During that time period, Skunk Creek sustained seasonal flow during late winter, spring, and occasionally part of the summer. This contrasts sharply with its ephemeral nature today and helps to explain how prehistoric groups could have survived in the northern Hohokam peripheral zone. Evidence from the Adobe 4 area appears to fit a general model which postulates the existence of an extensive pre-Classic Hohokam interaction sphere based on economic ties between the core and peripheral areas.

Cite this Record

Archaeological Investigations in the Adobe Dam Project Area. J. Simon Bruder. MNA Research Paper ,27. Flagstaff, AZ: Museum of Northern Arizona. 1983 ( tDAR id: 375880) ; doi:10.6067/XCV8RX9CZ6

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Spatial Coverage

min long: -112.162; min lat: 33.67 ; max long: -112.14; max lat: 33.689 ;

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Contact(s): Archaeological Research Institute, School of Human Evolution & Social Change, Arizona State University