The Anthropogenic Landscape of Las Capas, an Early Agricultural Irrigation Community in Southern Arizona

Editor(s): James M. Vint; Fred L. Nials

Year: 2015


Las Capas, AZ AA:12:111 (ASM), so named for its deeply stratified deposits, dates primarily to the San Pedro phase of the Early Agricultural period, circa 1200-800 B.C. Later, more sporadic occupation of the site extends from the Cienega phase (800 B.C.-A.D. 50) through the Hohokam sequence and the Protohistoric period. Occupation prior to approximately 2100 B.C. is suggested by several radiocarbon dates on maize found redeposited in younger contexts. Recent excavations at the site and its associated canals, designated AZ AA:12:753 (ASM), revealed the structure of this Early Agricultural period settlement in unprecedented detail. Data recovery identified more than 5,500 prehistoric features, 3,455 of which were excavated or tested. Investigated feature types included 53 pithouses, 8 possible pithouses, 22 extramural surfaces, 610 bell-shaped pits, 49 large pits, 2,099 small pits, 490 roasting pits, 40 pits of unknown or other function, 20 inhumations, 2 cremations, and 11 animal burials. These excavations resulted in the recovery of more than 113,000 artifacts and 7,300 samples of various kinds.

This volume provides the environmental and cultural context of the Las Capas project area, situated on the Santa Cruz River floodplain in the northern Tucson Basin of southern Arizona. Contrary to the common idea of "desert," the Sonoran Desert supports a surprising lush and diverse variety of plant and animal life in an area receiving an average of less than 30 cm of precipitation per year. The environment of the greater Santa Cruz River Valley is discussed in detail, as it constitutes the fundamental structure within which early farmers established their communities, creating mosaics of "built environments," — anthropogenic landscapes—for agriculture and settlement.

Cite this Record

The Anthropogenic Landscape of Las Capas, an Early Agricultural Irrigation Community in Southern Arizona. James M. Vint, Fred L. Nials. 2015 ( tDAR id: 448039) ; doi:10.48512/XCV8448039

This Resource is Part of the Following Collections

Spatial Coverage

min long: -111.298; min lat: 32.234 ; max long: -110.893; max lat: 32.474 ;

Individual & Institutional Roles

Contact(s): Desert Archaeology, Inc.

Contributor(s): Dirk Baron; Owen K. Davis; David L. Dettman; Michael W. Diehl; Christopher Eastoe; Jeffrey A. Homburg; Gary Huckleberry; Richard I. MacPhail; Manuel R. Palacios-Fest; Chad L. Yost; Desert Archaeology, Inc.; Fred Nials

Prepared By(s): Archaeology Southwest

Submitted To(s): Pima County

Record Identifiers

Permit No.(s): 2008-118

Case No.(s): 2008-01

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Contact(s): Desert Archaeology, Inc.

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