The Rye Creek Project: Archaeology in the Upper Tonto Basin, Volume 3: Synthesis and Conclusions

Author(s): Mark Elson; Douglas B. Craig

Year: 1992


The Rye Creek Project involved testing and data recovery at 19 archaeological sites within the Upper Tonto Basin of central Arizona. The project area is situated along a 5.4 mile (8.7 km) stretch of State Route 87, approximately 10 miles south of the town of Payson, Arizona, within the boundaries of the Tonto National Forest. The project was undertaken for the Arizona Department of Transportation prior to the realignment and expansion of State Route 87.

Thirteen sites were tested and then intensively investigated (Chapters 6, 7, 8, and 9) while six were only tested (Chapter 10). Considerable functional and temporal diversity was present; the sites ranged from small, isolated, single-room masonry structures and larger multiroom pueblos dating to the early Classic period (AD. 1150-1300), to earlier Preclassic period (AD. 750-1150) sites with subsurface pithouse architecture. Of the intensively investigated sites, seven dated primarily to the Classic period and six dated to the Preclassic period, although a number of these contained both Classic and Preclassic components (Chapter 25). The Preclassic period sites were for the most part more substantial; a methodological analysis of the archaeological signatures of sedentism suggests that the majority of the Preclassic period sites were sedentary in nature (Chapter 26). This contrasts with many of the Classic period sites which appear to have been seasonally occupied field houses, although a larger, more permanently occupied (but severely disturbed) pueblo roomblock was also present. Given the traditional emphasis on Classic period sites in Tonto Basin archaeology (Chapter 3), this project represents one of the most complete investigations of the less well known Preclassic period. The Deer Creek site (AZ O:15:52) contained 17 pithouses and dated primarily to the Gila Butte phase (AD. 750-850) with a possibly earlier Snaketown phase (AD. 650-750) component (Chapter 7). This is now one of the earliest excavated ceramic period sites within the Tonto Basin. Limited testing on a volunteer basis was also undertaken at Rye Creek Ruin (AZ O:15:1) which, while probably originating during the early Classic period (AD. 1150-1300), dates primarily to the late Classic period Gila phase (AD. 1300-1450) (Chapter 27). Rye Creek Ruin is one of the largest permanently occupied sites in the Tonto Basin, containing around 150 masonry rooms and two platform mounds. The site was undoubtedly the focus of the Classic period settlement of the Upper Tonto Basin.

This is the last volume of a 3 volume series on the Rye Creek Project. This volume includes a synthesis of data from the project and conclusions.

Cite this Record

The Rye Creek Project: Archaeology in the Upper Tonto Basin, Volume 3: Synthesis and Conclusions. Mark Elson, Douglas B. Craig. 1992 ( tDAR id: 427781) ; doi:10.6067/XCV8427781

This Resource is Part of the Following Collections

Temporal Coverage

Calendar Date: 750 to 1150 (Preclassic Period)

Calendar Date: 1150 to 1300 (Classic Period)

Calendar Date: 1300 to 1450 (Snaketown Phase)

Calendar Date: 750 to 850 (Gila Butte Phase)

Spatial Coverage

min long: -111.369; min lat: 34.029 ; max long: -111.346; max lat: 34.136 ;

Individual & Institutional Roles

Contact(s): Salt River Project Cultural Resource Manager

Contributor(s): Walter H. Birkby; Maria H. Czuzak; WIlliam L. Deaver; Alan Ferg; Laura C. Fulginiti; Elizabeth Miksa; Henry Wallace

Repository(s): Salt River Project, Tempe, AZ

Prepared By(s): Desert Archaeology, Inc

Submitted To(s): Arizona Department of Transportation

Record Identifiers

Salt River Project Library Barcode No.(s): 00090777

Contract Number(s): 88-36

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Contact(s): Salt River Project Cultural Resource Manager