Early Desert Farming and Irrigation Settlements, Archaeological Investigations in the Phoenix Sky Harbor Center, Volume 2: Dutch Canal Ruin


This volume, which focuses on archaeological data recovery efforts at Dutch Canal Ruin, is the second of four prepared for the Phoenix Sky Harbor Center Development Project. Investigators identified 20 individual loci during the testing phase within the Phoenix Sky Harbor Center at Dutch Canal Ruin and excavated a sample of eight loci (Areas 1 through 8). During the monitoring of the remote parking facility in the eastern portion of the project area, SWCA discovered and excavated additional features and included them in the data recovery analysis (Areas 9 and 10). SWCA thus investigated half of the loci (Areas 1 through 10) in the project area during data recovery.

The majority of the remains that constituted Dutch Canal Ruin, including the canals, were associated with the pre-Classic periods. Investigators assigned 2 loci to the Classic and post-Classic periods and 10 to the pre-Classic periods but concluded that 6 could not be assigned and 1 contained both pre-Classic and Classic period components. Occupation at Dutch Canal Ruin began at seasonal field house loci during the Snaketown phase; at this time the first canals were constructed. Field house settlements and seasonal occupation continued through the Colonial period, with activities related primarily to agriculture. Although investigators identified Sedentary period remains in four loci, the early occupants of Dutch Canal Ruin apparently used the canals only until approximately a.d. 900 and then may have shifted their land-use strategies to the procurement of wild economic resources associated with the previous agricultural disturbance; they eventually allowed the area to return to its natural setting and environment.

The portion of the Phoenix Sky Harbor Center that contained Dutch Canal Ruin appeared to have been abandoned during the Soho phase, possibly as early as the Sacaton phase. The only features discovered in the project area that may have been associated with the Soho phase were four burials, including one from the Squaw Peak Parkway. Two intruded into pre-Classic period canals, one intruded into a pre-Classic period pit structure, and one was found adjacent to a canal. Burial goods from two of the interments suggested a Classic period association, which was supported by stratigraphic data in three cases. Interpreting the temporal placement of these burials was problematic; they may have represented limited use of the area during the Classic period in the form of resource procurement activities. Interment within the abandoned canals and the pit structure may have been a matter of convenience, in that the depressions offered by these features would have facilitated ease of burial.

The Hohokam reoccupied Dutch Canal Ruin during the Civano phase. These later inhabitants constructed more canals through the site area and occupied habitation areas, which remained small and simple, on a permanent basis. These settlements probably never exceeded one or two households, although the density of material culture items suggested that occupation had been intensive (permanent) and perhaps long in duration. At least one habitation locus, Area 8, appeared to have been inhabited during the Polvoron phase of the post-Classic period. The Classic and post- Classic period occupations at Dutch Canal Ruin shared similarities with Pueblo Salado, a Classic and post-Classic period site south of Dutch Canal Ruin that is discussed in Volume 3 of this series. Reoccupation of Dutch Canal Ruin may have resulted from an expansion of the Pueblo Salado settlement and use of the area for its agricultural potential.

In summary, Dutch Canal Ruin was used extensively as an agricultural zone during much of the Hohokam occupation of the Phoenix Basin. Some of the earliest canals within Canal System 2 extended through the site. Inhabitants of nearby village sites, such as La Ciudad, Los Solares, Pueblo Grande, and La Villa/Casa Chica, may have exploited the Dutch Canal Ruin area during the pre-Classic periods because of the deep alluvial soils. The area may have been abandoned as an agricultural zone after the Colonial period because of devastating floods. During the Sacaton and Soho phases, Dutch Canal Ruin may have been used casually for the exploitation of wild plant resources and hunting. The Hohokam established a permanent occupation during the Civano phase and extended their occupation into the post-Classic period. These later occupants relied on canal irrigation agriculture and wild resources for their subsistence. Dutch Canal Ruin was in an area considered high risk by today’s standards, yet the Hohokam persisted in using this area, initially during the late Pioneer and Colonial periods and later during the Classic and post-Classic periods. The investigations at this site have provided information on the types of land-use patterns and settlement strategies used by the Hohokam during these periods on the geologic floodplain of the Salt River and have added to the growing data base concerning the Hohokam of the Phoenix Basin.

Although this volume focuses on descriptive statistics and data presentation for the 10 investigated areas of Dutch Canal Ruin, it also presents detailed analyses of the site’s ceramics, flaked and ground stone, and botanical and faunal assemblages; a reconstruction of site chronology; and a discussion of the site within a regional perspective. The appendixes provide raw data from various analyses. For further interpretive and synthetic information, see Volume 4.

Cite this Record

Early Desert Farming and Irrigation Settlements, Archaeological Investigations in the Phoenix Sky Harbor Center, Volume 2: Dutch Canal Ruin. David H. Greenwald, M. Zyniecki, Dawn Greenwald. SWCA Anthropological Research Papers ,4. Tucson, AZ: SWCA, Inc., Environmental Consultants. 1994 ( tDAR id: 398959) ; doi:10.6067/XCV8DN46SV

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Spatial Coverage

min long: -112.052; min lat: 33.426 ; max long: -112.03; max lat: 33.444 ;

Individual & Institutional Roles

Contact(s): City of Phoenix Archaeology Office

Contributor(s): Richard V. N. Ahistrom; Mark Chenault; Linda Scott Cummings; David H. Greenwald; Greenwald Dawn; Sarah Horton; Scott Kwiatkowski; Kathleen McQuestion; Thomas Motsinger; Kimberly Spurr; Susan Stratton; Kathryn Wullstein; M. Zyniecki


General Note: The curation of this report was supported by a Seed Grant from the Institute for Humanities Research, Arizona State University as part of the Digital Archive of Hohokam Archaeology (DAHA) Project.

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