Rockpile Areas and Other Specialized Activity Sites on the Gila River Terrace: An Appraisal of Hohokam Auxiliary Agricultural Strategies near Florence, Arizona

Author(s): Rein Vanderpot

Year: 1992


This report presents the results of an archaeological survey of an 150-acre parcel for a proposed Immigration and Naturalization Services (INS) facility near Florence, Arizona, and a testing program at AZ U:15:171, a site found within this parcel during preliminary survey. The project area is located on a slightly sloping alluvial terrace between 1 and 2 km north of the Gila River. Numerous minor drainages dissect this terrace environment, creating a system of irregularly shaped low ridges. During the survey, 16 previously undiscovered archaeological sites were recorded, Thirteen of these sites are prehistoric and the remaining 3 are historic Anglo-American. Of the prehistoric sites, 2 are ceramic and lithic scatters, and 11 are rockpile areas. One of the rockpile sites includes a second component, comprising a third sherd and lithic scatter. All 3 historic sites are trash dumps, 1 of which consists of remains of a World War II period Prisoner of War camp that was located just east of the project area.

The testing program at AZ U:15:171 determined that the site represents a Hohokam farmstead occupied from the late Colonial period on, with a dramatically increased site use during the Classic period. One pithouse and four plant-processing features were identified. More than likely, the farmstead is associated with some of the rockpile sites found in the project area. Given the ability to address a series of research issues, the site was recommended to be eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places.

Although all sites are discussed, this report gives emphasis to the rockpile sites. These rockpile areas are interpreted as Hokokam plant-cultivation locales. It is concluded that the rock features most likely functioned as planters, conserving moisture and trapping nutrients. Specific artifacts occurring in association with the features suggest that agave was a dominate crop, although various other plants may have been grown in and around the features. Locations of rockpile clusters mostly conform to a predictable pattern of favored settings. A favorability model for rockpile placement is offered. This model may facilitate comparison of the various rockpile areas occurring in the Hohokam area. For the Florence region, our findings provide important data on secondary agricultural practices by members of various Hohokam communities along this portion of the Gila River. This information is crucial for furthering our understanding of an integrated intrabasin Hohokam subsistence economy.

Cite this Record

Rockpile Areas and Other Specialized Activity Sites on the Gila River Terrace: An Appraisal of Hohokam Auxiliary Agricultural Strategies near Florence, Arizona. Rein Vanderpot. Technical Series ,32. Tucson, Arizona: SRI Press. 1992 ( tDAR id: 425913) ; doi:10.48512/XCV8425913

This Resource is Part of the Following Collections

Spatial Coverage

min long: -111.449; min lat: 33.035 ; max long: -111.368; max lat: 33.109 ;

Individual & Institutional Roles

Contact(s): SRI Press

Project Director(s): Rein Vanderpot

Sponsor(s): U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Los Angeles District

Prepared By(s): Statistical Research, Inc.

Submitted To(s): U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Los Angeles District

Record Identifiers

Contract No.(s): DACA-09-91-M-0298

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