Exploring the Barrio Libre: Investigations at Block 136, Tucson, Arizona

Author(s): J. Homer Thiel

Year: 2002


What lies beneath the vacant lots of the Barrio Libre? This old barrio lies on the south side of the downtown core of Tucson and has been occupied as a primarily Mexican- American neighborhood for 100 years. During the Historic period, the Barrio Libre has been home to thousands of people, many of whom have left behind the physical traces of their lives in the form of architectural remains and artifacts. Archaeological excavations of homes, businesses, and the trash created and disposed of by the people of the barrio can provide important details about their everyday lives-details that were so commonplace no one bothered to write about them, and are thus lost in the passage of time.

In the summer of 2000, Desert Archaeology, Inc., investigated Block 136 for the City of Tucson. The city planned to construct low-cost housing on the western half of the block. Archaeological testing had previously revealed the presence of significant cultural resources on the block (Dutt and Thiel 1999, 2000). Further archaeological work was planned to recover information that would allow for a better understanding of the daily life of block residents. Excavations lasted two weeks and resulted in the discovery of a variety of features, ranging from a prehistoric roasting pit to historic-period outhouses and trashfilled borrow pits. An assortment of the items thrown away or lost by the people who once made Block 136 their home were recovered from these features. Archival research reveals these were primarily Mexican-Americans, although a few Chinese and Euro-Americans also lived here.

The results of the archaeological excavations are presented in this report. This chapter contains background information about the local environment and general prehistory and history of the Tucson Basin. The history of Block 136 is discussed in Chapter 2, with a focus on the dwellings and the people who inhabited them. The archaeological excavations and the features uncovered are described in Chapter 3, while Chapter 4 chronicles the artifacts found at the site. Chapter 5 examines the food materials unearthed. Finally, an overview of the daily life of Block 136 residents is provided in Chapter

Cite this Record

Exploring the Barrio Libre: Investigations at Block 136, Tucson, Arizona, 08. J. Homer Thiel. 2002 ( tDAR id: 448084) ; doi:10.48512/XCV8448084

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Spatial Coverage

min long: -110.988; min lat: 32.192 ; max long: -110.955; max lat: 32.232 ;

Individual & Institutional Roles

Contact(s): Desert Archaeology, Inc.

Contributor(s): Allison Cohen Diehl; Michael W. Diehl; Andrew Dutt; James M. Heidke; Elizabeth J. Miksa; Arthur W. Vokes

Translator(s): Jinshan Tang; Hui-Ming Shang

Principal Investigator(s): William Doelle

Prepared By(s): Desert Archaeology, Inc.

Submitted To(s): Marty McCune

Record Identifiers

Antiquities Act Project Specific Permit (s): 2000-99ps

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tr2001-08_final_OCR_Redacted.pdf 100.52mb Nov 2, 2020 4:30:07 PM Public
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tr2001-08_final_OCR_PDFA.pdf 82.01mb Oct 1, 2002 Feb 21, 2019 9:59:59 AM Confidential
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Contact(s): Desert Archaeology, Inc.

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