Ancient Farmers of the Safford Basin: Archaeology of the U.S. 70 Safford-to-Thatcher Project

Editor(s): Jeffery J. Clark

Year: 2004


In March 1999, Desert Archaeology, Inc., was subcontracted by lnca Engineering to conduct archaeological testing along U.S. 70 between Safford and Thatcher at the behest of the Arizona Department of Transportation. Subsurface features associated with four prehistoric habitation sites (AZ CC:2:235, :289, :290, and :291 [ASM]), two prehistoric canal sites (AZ CC:2:296 and :297), and one late historic-period canal site (AZ CC:2:298) were identified. Except CC:2:291 that was removed from the project area after the testing phase, Desert Archaeology conducted data recovery at all of these sites in February and early March 2000.

The investigated portion of CC:2:235 (the Daley site) was south of the site area investigated by Eastern Arizona College (EAC) in 1980. EAC's salvage excavations revealed an early Classic (Bylas phase) settlement with masonry and jacal structures. Evidence for a late Formative period occupation was also recovered and a late Classic (Safford phase)component was probably removed by plowing. Features investigated by Desert Archaeology at the Daley site included two ephemeral pit structures, one possible pit structure, an extramural area that may have been used to fire pottery, and a trash-filled wash. All features date to the late A.D. 1200s. The possible pottery firing area was adjacent to the trash-filled wash. The latter contained polishing stones and partially reconstructible vessels from nearly every utilitarian and decorated ceramic ware recovered from late thirteenth century contexts in the Safford Basin, except Maverick Mountain Series pottery. A number of the partial vessels were secondarily burned, suggesting they were used to cover vessels that were being fired.

Maverick Mountain Series pottery was only recovered at the site from the two pit structures where it was found in substantial quantities. Both structures were ephemeral and dug into loose sand. Considering the correlation of Maverick Mountain Series pottery with the inhabitants of northeastern Arizona, these structures may have been temporary encampments for immigrants who either moved on or gained acceptance into the local community. Single pit structures were also identified at CC:2:290 and CC:2:291 near the eastern and western margins of the Daley site, respectively. Both structures were also occupied during the late 1200s and associated with small quantities of Maverick Mountain Series pottery.

CC:2:289 was in a plowed field within the southern half of the proposed detention basin. Prehistoric features that had survived plowing included two small pit structures, two flexed burials, and a number of pits of indeterminate function. AMS radiocarbon dates and diagnostic artifacts from these features suggest long-term, low-level activity consistent with extended use of the site for agricultural purposes from circa A.D. 1-A.D. 1300. Three prehistoric canals (AZ CC:2:296 [ASM] Features 1 and 2 and AZ CC:2:297 [ASM]) traversed CC:2:289 and were associated with several of the site components. CC:2:296 Features 1 and 2 followed parallel courses and were probably used sequentially. AMS radiocarbon dates from these two canals suggest they were utilized in the AD. 1-300 range, the earliest evidence for irrigation to date in the Safford Basin. An AMS radiocarbon date from a maize cupule recovered from a nearby pit also overlapped with this range. AMS radiocarbon dates from CC:2:297 did not overlap, but use in the late Formative or early Classic period is suggested, perhaps in association with the two pit structures. Finally, a large late historic-period canal (CC:2:298 Locus 2), was identified within the site boundaries of CC:2:290. Archival research revealed that this was a segment of the Central Canal abandoned in 1905 after a large flood. The late historic Smithville Canal (AZ CC:2:79 [ASM]), constructed in 1880, approached the northwestern edge of the project area. An eastward extension of this canal and diversion dam, constructed several decades ago, skirted the northern edge of the project area.

Cite this Record

Ancient Farmers of the Safford Basin: Archaeology of the U.S. 70 Safford-to-Thatcher Project. Jeffery J. Clark. 2004 ( tDAR id: 427804) ; doi:10.6067/XCV8427804

This Resource is Part of the Following Collections

Temporal Coverage

Calendar Date: 1 to 1300 (Dating for site CC:2:289 based off of AMS radiocarbon dating and artifact analysis)

Calendar Date: 1 to 300 (Dating for site CC:2:296 based off of AMS radiocarbon dating and artifact analysis)

Spatial Coverage

min long: -109.768; min lat: 32.823 ; max long: -109.71; max lat: 32.853 ;

Individual & Institutional Roles

Contact(s): Salt River Project Cultural Resource Manager

Contributor(s): Jenny L. Adams; Michael W. Diehl; Samantha Gallop; Susan D. Hall; James P. Holdmlund; Lorrie Lincoln-Babb; Patrick D. Lyons; Penny Dufoe Minturn; Anna A. Neuzil; Fred L. Nials; M. Steven Shackley; Susan J. Sliva; Susan J. Smith; James M. Vint; Arthur W. Vokes; Jennifer A. Waters

Field Director(s): Andrew Dutt; Ellen Ruble

Project Director(s): Jeffery Clark

Sponsor(s): Inca Engineering

Prepared By(s): Center for Desert Archaeology

Submitted To(s): Arizona Department of Transportation

Record Identifiers

Contract No. (s): 99-07

Anthropological Papers No.(s): 39

TRACS No.(s): H4159 01D

SRP Library Barcode No.(s): 00090908

File Information

  Name Size Creation Date Date Uploaded Access
2004_Clark_AncientFarmers_OCR_PDFA_Redacted.pdf 74.68mb Sep 30, 2021 3:59:09 PM Public
This file is a redacted copy.
2004_Clark_AncientFarmers_OCR_PDFA.pdf 63.08mb Dec 1, 2004 Apr 13, 2017 9:13:11 AM Confidential
This file is unredacted.

Accessing Restricted Files

At least one of the files for this resource is restricted from public view. For more information regarding access to these files, please reference the contact information below

Contact(s): Salt River Project Cultural Resource Manager

This Resource is Part of the Following User Created Collections