Archaeology at the Gillespie Dam Site: Data Recovery Investigations for the Palo Verde to Pinal West 500 kV Transmission Line, Maricopa County, Arizona

Editor(s): T. Kathleen Henderson

Year: 2011


In this report, the results of data recovery efforts conducted for the Palo Verde to Pinal West transmission line project at the Gillespie Dam site, AZ T:13:18 (ASM), in the Gila Bend area of the Gila River are presented. The site is a prehistoric Hohokam-Patayan settlement with an overlay of Historic era material. Fieldwork primarily occurred within the construction staging area of a transmission tower. Although covering less than an acre, the staging area contained surprising numbers of prehistoric features, including numerous pithouses, a cobble-buttressed adobe structure, ramadas, a storehouse/granary, and myriad other feature types typical of the range of outdoor activities that would be associated with a residential locus in a Hohokam village. Chronological evidence indicates the locus was occupied from the beginning of the Sedentary period, well into the Classic period, or from the tenth century to sometime after the thirteenth century A.D.

Three of the pithouses are among the largest ever excavated within the Hohokam cultural area; the adobe structure was also exceptionally large. The large structures formed a corridor through the center of the staging area, which was accentuated by a fronting, prepared caliche surface. It is these structures that are the essential project finding, providing important insights about village organization and activity at the Gillespie Dam site. In turn, the project results inform on larger prehistoric events occurring within the Gila Bend area.

Fieldwork also included sampling of a historic canal, AZ T:14:143 (ASM), which skirts the edge of the river terrace scarp in the southwestern portion of the Gillespie Dam site. Archival research identified this channel as the Wolfley, or original, Gila Bend Canal. It was the first of several historic canals built on the eastern side of the Gila River north of Gila Bend. The Wolfley/Gila Bend canal operated intermittently between 1892 and 1895, and possibly as late as 1905. The study of the canal during this project provided a rare opportunity to compare the archaeological record of a canal with its documented history of constructions, management, and natural events.

This document contains contributions by Jenny L. Adams, Elizabeth A. Bagwell, Tiffany Clark, Connie A. Darby, Michael W. Diehl, T. Kathleen Henderson, Gary Huckleberry, Christine H. Lange, Manuel R. Palacios-Fest, Stacy L. Ryan, M. Steven Shackley, Susan J. Smith, Pat. H. Stein, Sandra Wadsworth, and Joshua Watts.

Cite this Record

Archaeology at the Gillespie Dam Site: Data Recovery Investigations for the Palo Verde to Pinal West 500 kV Transmission Line, Maricopa County, Arizona, 06. T. Kathleen Henderson. 2011 ( tDAR id: 406074) ; doi:10.6067/XCV8406074

This Resource is Part of the Following Collections


Historic Hohokam Patayan

Adobe Agavaceae Agave Amaranthus sp. Ambrosia-Type sp. Amethyst Andesite Anodonta californiensis Argillite Argopecten circularis Artiodactyl Artiodactyla Asteraceae Atriplex sp. Basalt Bittersweet Black Mesa Black-on-Whiteware Black-on-Whiteware Boerhaavia sp. Bone Brassicaceae Buckwheat Buffware Building Materials Bursage Show More

Site Name
AZ T:13:18 (ASM) AZ T:14:143 (ASM) Gila Bend Canal Gillespie Dam Site Wolfley Canal

Site Type
Adobe Structure Agricultural or Herding Ancient Structure Archaeological Feature Artifact Concentration Burned Surface Caliche Surface Canal Canal or Canal Feature Domestic Structure or Architectural Complex Domestic Structures Extramural Surface Granary Hamlet / Village Midden Non-Thermal Pit Oxidized Area Pit Pit House Pit House / Earth Lodge Post Post Hole / Post Mold Ramada Resource Extraction / Production / Transportation Structure or Features Roasting Pit Show More

Investigation Types
Data Recovery / Excavation Historic Background Research Site Evaluation / Testing

Andesite Hammerstone Andesite Polisher Argopecten circularis Pendant Basalt Flake Basalt Mano Basalt Metate Basalt Netherstone Basalt Polisher Bead Biface Bone (Artiodactyl) Bone (Artiodactyla) Bone (Canis sp.) Bone (Carnivora) Bone (Carnivore) Bone (Carnivore-Sized Mammal) Bone (Desert Cottontail) Bone (Lagomorph) Bone (Lagomorpha) Bone (Large Mammal) Bone (Leporidae) Bone (Lepus sp.) Bone (Mammal) Bone (Mammalia) Bone (Medium Mammal) Show More

Geographic Keywords
Arizona (State / Territory) Buckeye Hills Central Arizona Gila Bend, AZ Gila Bend Mountains Gila River lower Gila River Maricopa (County)

Temporal Keywords
Classic Period Early Classic Period Early Sacaton Phase Historic Late Sacaton Phase Middle Sacaton Phase Prehistoric Sacaton Phase Sedentary Period

Temporal Coverage

Calendar Date: 1892 to 1905 (Years of operation of the Wolfley/Gila Bend Canal, the historic component of the site.)

Spatial Coverage

min long: -112.763; min lat: 33.209 ; max long: -112.746; max lat: 33.239 ;

Individual & Institutional Roles

Contact(s): Salt River Project Cultural Resource Manager

Contributor(s): Richard Anduze; Jenny L. Adams; Elizabeth A. Bagwell; Tiffany Clark; Connie A. Darby; Michael W. Diehl; Gary Huckleberry; Christine H. Lange; Manuel R. Palacios-Fest; Stacy L. Ryan; M. Steven Shackley; Susan J. Smith; Pat H. Stein; Sandra Wadsworth; Joshua Watts; Bureau of Land Management; John Madsen; Dan Hawkins; Ray Kedrick; Tom Novy; Cheryl Blanchard; Ann Howard; Katie Bubnekovich; Patti Cook; Reese Cook; Ally Graver; Susan Hall; Kristen Higgins; Lance Holly; John Hooper; Mike Lindeman; Jason McInteer; Stephanie Ratcliffe; Will Russell; Jasper Shields; Jonathan Spiandorello; Homer Thiel; Mike Brack; Tyler Theriot; Jeffrey Eighmy; Henry Wallace; Masson Riddle; Mike Hughes; Darden Hood; Glen Rice; Chris Watkins; Sara Lely; Ted Oliver; Jen Kramer; Emilee Mead; Andrea Mathews; Donna Doolittle; Susan Hall; Catherine Gilman; Bill Doelle; Trish Castalia; Jeffrey Eighmy

Field Director(s): Greg Whitney

Lab Director(s): Lisa Eppley

Project Director(s): T. Kathleen Henderson

Landowner(s): Private Owner

Sponsor(s): Salt River Project; Salt River Project Agricultural Improvement and Power District

Repository(s): Arizona State Museum; Salt River Project

Submitted To(s): Salt River Project

Record Identifiers

Case File No. (s): AZA-32057

Decision No.(s): 67012

Archaeological Resources Protection Act Permit No.(s): AZ-000357

Arizona Repatriation Case No.(s): 07-52

Case No.(s): 124

BLM EA No.(s): AZ-020-2003-0045

ASM Accession No.(s): 2007-311

Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Right-of-Way Grant Serial No.(s): AZA-32057

File Information

  Name Size Creation Date Date Uploaded Access
2011_Henderson_ArchaeologyattheGillespie.pdf 14.47mb Jul 1, 2011 Jul 1, 2016 3:39:09 PM Confidential
This file is unredacted.

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Contact(s): Salt River Project Cultural Resource Manager