Archaeological Investigations Along a Proposed Phelps Dodge Water Pipeline, South of Bagdad, Yavapai County, Arizona

Editor(s): Gregory J. Whitney

Year: 2009


During the summer of 2005, archaeological data recovery was undertaken at three sites within a proposed Phelps Dodge water pipeline corridor south of the mining town of Bagdad in west-central Arizona.

AZ M:8:60 (ASM), situated in mountainous terrain near the northern end of the pipeline corridor, was an artifact scatter with a grinding slick and a rock cairn. Recovered artifacts suggest the site was a camp dedicated to the procurement and processing of upland plant resources. Although plain ware ceramics indicated the site was utilized during the Formative period, analysis revealed that a Cerbat or Prescott affiliation could not be determined because the ceramics could not be confidently assigned to any of the classified Tizon Brown Ware types (Cerbat) or Prescott Gray Ware in the region. One possibility suggested by the analysis was that the represented vessels were locally produced. A relatively large number of vessels were indicated by the recovered ceramics; this suggested the site was either occupied repeatedly over several seasons by a small group or was intensively occupied only once or twice by a much larger group.

AZ M:8:61 (ASM) was an ephemeral ridgetop trail that spanned the transition between bajada and mountain uplands. Plain ware ceramics, found at two locations along the trail, suggested that it was utilized during the Formative period. As was the case with the ceramics recovered from M:8:60, a Cerbat or Prescott affiliation could not be determined for M:8:61. Since the trail held such low potential for data recovery on its own, a supplemental pedestrian survey, encompassing 750 acres, was conducted around the trail to place the site into a broader cultural and environmental context.

The survey results suggested the ridge containing the trail, as well as other nearby ridgelines, were less favored by prehistoric inhabitants than the surrounding valleys and canyons. Several smaller campsites and non-site artifact scatters were located in proximity to a probable base camp, AZ M:8:64 (ASM), situated along Cowboy Wash, the most substantial drainage in the survey area. It is possible that these sites and scatters made up part of a resource catchment area, where M:8:64 was at the center and the temporary resource processing camps, satellite procurement areas, and natural resources occurred around it. This proposed settlement pattern was modeled upon earlier research (The Mammoth Wash Project) conducted in similar environments northwest of the proposed pipeline corridor. The survey data suggested that the most prevalent prehistoric activity in the 750-acre area was related to resource processing. Activities involving ground stone were a major focus within each temporary camp and ground stone artifacts were the dominant artifact type within non-site artifact scatters.

AZ M:12:44 (ASM), located along the bajada typical of the southern portion of the pipeline corridor, consists of an expediently constructed two-room, split-level dugout cut into the side of a low-lying ridge. Based upon a combination of archival research, locational data, and relative dating of paloverde trees, a range of construction dates was suggested for the site from the late 1920s to the early 1950s. However, it remains unclear whether the structure was ever actually utilized for habitation. The only artifacts associated with the dugout were two metates incorporated into a rock ring grinding station. While cultural affiliation of the site could not be determined, the ground stone suggested that the site was possibly of Native American or Mexican origin.

A documentary investigation, consisting of the pipeline corridor and a one-mile-wide area around it, revealed that substantially more ephemeral use of the project area had occurred during the late-Historic era than could possibly be gleaned from merely a surface assessment. The most prevalent activities were ranching and herding, but homesteading and mining activities also occurred.

The appendix of this report contains the results of an additional survey conducted along a 1.5-mile stretch of Bridle Creek, located just east of the proposed pipeline corridor. The survey focused on locating and documenting the previously known, but unrecorded petroglyph sites along the drainage. The rock art appears to be of the Grapevine Style, an Eastern Mojave style centered on the Three Corners Area (Arizona, Nevada, and California). The style occurs in a limited portion of west-central Arizona that coincides with documented ranges of several Formative period groups, including the Patayan along the Colorado River and the Cerbat, Cohonina, and Prescott within the interior; the Grapevine Style may point toward a common thread with and possibly a common origin for the different Formative Period groups.

Cite this Record

Archaeological Investigations Along a Proposed Phelps Dodge Water Pipeline, South of Bagdad, Yavapai County, Arizona, 03. Gregory J. Whitney. 2009 ( tDAR id: 448247) ; doi:10.48512/XCV8448247

This Resource is Part of the Following Collections

Spatial Coverage

min long: -113.268; min lat: 34.455 ; max long: -113.127; max lat: 34.569 ;

Individual & Institutional Roles

Contact(s): Desert Archaeology, Inc.

Contributor(s): Jenny L. Adams; Owen K. Davis; James M. Heidke; Carlos Lavayen; M. Steven Shackley; R. Jane Sliva; Pat H. Stein; Gregory J. Whitney

Prepared By(s): Desert Archaeology, Inc.

Submitted To(s): Freeport McMoran Copper & Gold, Inc.

Record Identifiers

Arizona State Museum Permit No.(s): 2005-7bl; 2005-101ps

Accession Number(s): 2005-319

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