Archaeological Investigations in Northern Los Pozos, AZ AA:12:91 (ASM), for the Pima County Bleeder Channel Project, Pima County, Arizona

Editor(s): Helga Wocherl

Year: 2014


Pima County Wastewater proposed construction of a bleeder channel on a City of Tucson-owned parcel in Pima County, Arizona. The parcel is within the northern boundary of the prehistoric site of Los Pozos, AZ AA:12:91 (ASM), a National Register of Historic Places-eligible property dating primarily to the Early Agricultural period (1200 B.C.-A.D. 50). The channel was planned from a bridge culvert on an access road to the RWRD Sweetwater Reclamation Campus to an existing rip-rap drainage channel along the northern boundary of the campus.

Desert Archaeology, Inc., was contracted to mitigate the potential effects construction would have on significant cultural resources. Phase 1 data recovery was completed in the central portion of the project parcel, which contains the main portion of a paleochannel complex related to the Santa Cruz River. Upon discovery of cultural features in and along the edge of channel deposits in the eastern portion of the parcel, Phase 2 data recovery was completed in that area, as well as in the western portion of the project parcel outside of and along the channel. No intact cultural remains were found in the heavily disturbed western portion. Phase 2 investigations consisted of horizontal exposures of feature outlines through mechanical stripping and hand-excavation of features.

Investigations revealed a Hohokam-aged cemetery area and non-mortuary features ceramically dated to the pre-Classic (Late Rincon phase) and the Classic (Tanque Verde phase) period. Early Agricultural period features associated with the primary Los Pozos occupation were not recovered. Discovered features included four inhumations of predominantly very young individuals (neonate/infant/juvenile), one adult inhumation, and four non-mortuary pits, including a hearth and a possible ceramic firing facility or a bell-shaped roasting pit. No habitation structures were found in the explored portions of the parcel.

The two most significant cultural findings are the possible evidence for local ceramic production and the presence of large outcurved bowls in three of the four infant inhumations. Based on this and other examples of this vessel type found with infant/child inhumations and cremations, a pattern of mortuary group events appears to have begun during the Late Rincon phase, continuing into the Classic period. The third significant finding from this small project is the discovery of the paleochannel segment. The same channel has been previously identified to the southeast and represents a substantial overflow channel of the ancient Santa Cruz River, most active during the Early Agricultural period. The northwestern extension of the channel in the project parcel may reflect the point at which the overflow channel begins to return to the main river channel after reaching maximum divergence. The overall significance of the findings lies in the discovery of another preserved Hohokam locus, a mortuary locality. Although only sporadically preserved and discovered, cumulative Hohokam-age finds at Los Pozos and the adjacent Wetlands site indicate, beyond a doubt, that the mid-through late sequence ceramic-aged settlement of the greater area was a fully fledged occupation of duration and intensity.

Cite this Record

Archaeological Investigations in Northern Los Pozos, AZ AA:12:91 (ASM), for the Pima County Bleeder Channel Project, Pima County, Arizona, 05. Helga Wocherl. 2014 ( tDAR id: 448370) ; doi:10.48512/XCV8448370

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Spatial Coverage

min long: -111.055; min lat: 32.269 ; max long: -111.006; max lat: 32.3 ;

Individual & Institutional Roles

Contact(s): Desert Archaeology, Inc.

Contributor(s): Jenny L. Adams; Michael W. Diehl; James M. Heidke; Mary F. Ownby; R. Jane Sliva; Christine H. Virden-Lange; Jennifer A. Waters; James T. Watson; Helga Wocherl

Prepared By(s): Desert Archaeology, Inc.

Submitted To(s): Pima County Cultural Resources & Historic Preservation Divsion

Record Identifiers

Desert Archaeology Project No.(s): 12-101E

Arizona Antiquities Act Project Specific Permit No.(s): 2012-061

Accession No.(s): 2012-43

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Contact(s): Desert Archaeology, Inc.

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