Archaeology in America: Schoolhouse Point Mesa Sites

Part of the Roosevelt Platform Mound Study: Summary and Synthesis Reports (DRAFT) project

Author(s): Owen Lindauer

Editor(s): Francis McManamon

Year: 2009


On the southern end of the Tonto basin, along the waters of the Salt River, is a peninsula of land known as Schoolhouse Point Mesa, for the small school that once was located there. The structure and arrangement of the community on Schoolhouse Point Mesa reflect the characteristics of five other, nearby communities in the basin that also overlook the Salt River. Like the other four villages nearby, the Schoolhouse Point community grew quickly starting around AD 1250, called the Roosevelt phase by archaeologists. But unlike the others, which were largely abandoned by AD 1350, the time marking the end of that phase, Schoolhouse Point Mesa continued to be occupied into the next phase, the Gila phase, until around AD 1450. The continuous occupation of this mesa through both phases provides a case study of the rapid growth, consolidation, and changing organization of a village over the period of time that defines the Salado.

Eventually new problems arose in association with people living in an aggregated settlement who had an over-reliance on canal irrigation for subsistence. Reconstruction of the prehistoric flows of the Salt River from the study of tree rings suggests that a succession of drought years were followed by devastating floods. Whereas once the extensive canals could have been rebuilt by a large local population, the depleted population along the Salt River of the mid-fifteenth century could not keep the canals functioning. Abandonment of the river-oriented villages probably occurred soon thereafter.

Cite this Record

Archaeology in America: Schoolhouse Point Mesa Sites. Owen Lindauer, Francis McManamon. In Archaeology in America: An Encyclopedia. Pp. 178-181. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press. 2009 ( tDAR id: 427113) ; doi:10.6067/XCV8VM4F80

Temporal Coverage

Calendar Date: 100 to 1960

Spatial Coverage

min long: -111.293; min lat: 33.606 ; max long: -110.942; max lat: 33.817 ;

Individual & Institutional Roles

Contact(s): Francis McManamon

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