Sunset Crater Archaeology: The History of a Volcanic Landscape, Introduction and Site Descriptions, Part 2

Editor(s): Mark D. Elson

Year: 2006


The U.S. 89 Archaeological Project investigated 41 prehistoric sites located approximately 30 km north of Flagstaff, Arizona. All sites were on Coconino National Forest (CNF) land. The project was conducted by Desert Archaeology, Inc., for the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) prior to the widening and improvement of 26.7 km (16.6 miles) of U.S. 89, between the southern boundary of Wupatki National Monument in the north, and the town of Fernwood in the south. Archaeological fieldwork occurred over two primary field seasons in 1997 and 1998, with a very brief field season in 1999. A total of almost 12 person-years of labor was expended on the fieldwork.

The U.S. 89 project area crosses diverse environmental zones, ranging from juniper-sage grasslands in the north at approximately 5,700 ft (1,737 m) asl, to ponderosa pine forests at over 7,200 ft (2,195 m) asl in the south. Mixed pinyon pine and juniper woodlands comprise the middle elevations. Five elevation zones were defined, using increments of 500 ft as a proxy for changes in precipitation, temperature, and vegetation. All project area sites are also within 25 km of Sunset Crater Volcano, with the closest sites only 5-6 km away. Sunset Crater erupted for a few years sometime between A.D. 1050 and 1125. Basalt lava from the eruption covered an area of approximately 8 km2, while another 2,300 km2 was covered by cinder and ash deposits. Sunset Crater cinders were found on all project area sites. An isopach map of cinder depth constructed for this project indicates that, minimally, the U.S. 89 sites were covered with from 5-50 cm of volcanic material, which had a significant impact on prehistoric settlement, subsistence, and economic systems. Prehistoric adaptation to environmental variability and to the Sunset Crater eruption were primary research themes.

The results of the U.S. 89 investigations are presented in a series of anthropological papers: Anthropological Papers No. 30, Part I and Part 2, contain background information on the project and descriptions of the 41 investigated sites. Part 2 includes chapters 5-7 and Appendices A-B. Part 2 includes the nine sites in Elevation Zone 3 (6,700-7,199 ft [2,042-2,194 m] asl, north), the nine sites in Elevation Zone 4 (7,200+ ft [2,195+ m] asl), and the 10 sites in Elevation Zone 5 (6,700-7,199 ft [2,042-2,194 m] asl, south).

Cite this Record

Sunset Crater Archaeology: The History of a Volcanic Landscape, Introduction and Site Descriptions, Part 2. Mark D. Elson. 2006 ( tDAR id: 428176) ; doi:10.6067/XCV8428176

This Resource is Part of the Following Collections


Cohonina Sinagua Culture

Ceramic Chipped Stone Fauna Ground Stone

Site Name
Ant Hill AR-03-02-04-2753 (CNF) AR-03-04-02-1534 (CNF) AR-03-04-02-1539 (CNF) AR-03-04-02-1541 (CNF) AR-03-04-02-1594 (CNF) AR-03-04-02-1640 (CNF) AR-03-04-02-1692 (CNF) AR-03-04-02-1693 (CNF) AR-03-04-02-1716 (CNF) AR-03-04-02-1798 (CNF) AR-03-04-02-2036 (CNF) AR-03-04-02-2109 (CNF) AR-03-04-02-2229 (CNF) AR-03-04-02-2591 (CNF) AR-03-04-02-2708 (CNF) AR-03-04-02-2755 (CNF) AR-03-04-02-2756 (CNF) AR-03-04-02-2757 (CNF) AR-03-04-02-2758 (CNF) AR-03-04-02-3352 (CNF) AR-03-04-02-3787 (CNF) AR-03-04-02-3791 (CNF) AR-03-04-02-3792 (CNF) AR-03-04-02-3794 (CNF) AR-03-04-02-3795 (CNF) AR-03-04-02-3796 (CNF) AR-03-04-02-4106 (CNF) AR-03-04-02-4117 (CNF) Basalt Ridge Borrow Site Clay House Corn Rock Dean Divide Full House Lenox Annex Lenox Park NA 18,417 NA 18,621 NA 18,625 NA 18,630 NA 18,680 NA 19,007 NA 20,700 NA 21,087 NA 21,089 NA 21,090 NA 21,091 NA 21,092 NA 21,103 NA 21,104 NA 21,131 NA 25,751 NA 25,752 NA 25,753 NA 25,754 NA 25,771 NA 25,772 NA 25,773 NA 25,774 NA 25,776 NA 25,779 NA 25,780 NA 25,996 NA 860 Slope Snag Site The Elk Site The Little Elk Site Show More

Site Type
Archaeological Feature Artifact Scatter Borrow Pit Burial Pit Checkdams Domestic Structure or Architectural Complex Domestic Structures Fieldhouse Funerary and Burial Structures or Features Hearth Inhumation burial Pit Pit House / Earth Lodge Post Hole / Post Mold Rock Alignment Rock Concentration Rock-Filled Pit Trash Concentration

Spatial Coverage

min long: -111.587; min lat: 35.223 ; max long: -111.522; max lat: 35.369 ;

Record Identifiers

Contact No.(s): 97-41

Anthropological Papers No.(s): 30

TRACS No.(s): 089 CN 434 H2022 02D


General Note: This is Part 2 of 2.

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Contact(s): Salt River Project Cultural Resource Manager