Archaeological Excavations at a Small Portion of the Zanardelli Site, AZ BB:13:1 (ASM), in the Southern Tucson Basin: Phase 2 Data Recovery along Tucson Water's Alternate Route 2, Nogales Highway (U.S. 89), Pima County, Arizona

Author(s): Mark D. Elson; Deborah L. Swartz

Year: 2017


The Zanardelli site, AZ BB:13:1 (ASM), is a large, Classic period (A.D. 1150-1450) Hohokam platform mound village situated in the southern Tucson Basin. The site has been known to the archaeological community since 1929. Since that time, portions of it have undergone archaeological survey and excavation. To date, including the current project, archaeological investigations have identified 154 prehistoric cultural features at the site. Recovered feature types include: 2 pithouses, 19 adobe-walled pit structures, 12 adobe-walled surface structures, a possible platform mound (with another on private property east of the current project area), 23 secondary cremations, 1 inhumation, and numerous extramural pits and portions of adobe walls that may represent adobe-walled surface structures or adobe compounds that likely contain multiple rooms.

The present project was conducted by Desert Archaeology, Inc., personnel for Tucson Water and the City of Tucson in advance of waterline installation. Two alternate alignments were proposed by Tucson Water-Alternate Route 1 and Alternate Route 2 — both of which could potentially impact cultural resources at the Zanardelli site, a nearby agricultural rock-pile field, AZ BB:13:315 (ASM), and two small artifact scatters, AZ BB:13:268 (ASM) and AZ BB:13:521 (ASM). The two alternate routes underwent Phase 1 archaeological data recovery in January 2016 (Elson and Swartz 2016a; Swartz 2015). Based on the much lower density of discovered subsurface cultural resources in Alternate Route 2, Tucson Water selected this as the preferred alignment.

The results of Phase 2 data recovery within Alternate Route 2 is the focus of this report; the results of the Phase 1 excavations in both Alternate Route 1 and Alternate Route 2 are presented in Appendix A (this volume; see also Elson and Swartz 2016a). The other sites were found to be outside the defined project area and were therefore not further investigated after Phase 1.

Phase 2 data recovery in Alternate Route 2 was conducted 4-11 April 2016. Two backhoe strip trenches were investigated along the eastern edge of Nogales Highway (U.S. 89) within the Zanardelli site boundary, one in the northern portion of the project area and one in the southern portion. Because the footprint of the planned ground disturbance activities was small, and due to prior disturbance through installation of a waterline and fiber-optics cable, only approximately 30 m2 of undisturbed deposits were available for archaeological excavation. Within this small area, 10 primary prehistoric cultural features were discovered, including portions of 4 adobe-walled pit structures, 2 large pits, and 2 small pits in the northern trench; two extramural surfaces were excavated in the southern trench.

Ceramic temporal data indicate the Phase 2 project area was occupied during the Classic period, primarily the late Classic period Tucson phase (A.D. 1300-1450), based on dating two of the adobe-walled pit-structures and a large pit (see Table 1.1 for Tucson Basin phase systematics). Previous research at the Zanardelli site strongly suggests the northern Desert Archaeology trench (Trench Unit 311) was located between two platform mounds — the only two remaining mounds at the site from an unknown number destroyed by modern development—and was therefore situated in the central district of the site, or as it is also called, the mound precinct. No mortuary features were identified during either Phase 1 or Phase 2 investigations, although 16 fragments of isolated human bone were repatriated to the Tohono O'odham Nation per the project burial agreement.

Data recovered during the current project support previous research that strongly indicates the Zanardelli site was a large, riverine, Hohokam Classic period village situated along the Santa Cruz River. Data from all Zanardelli projects suggest general use of the site area may have begun as early as the pre-Classic Snaketown or Cañada del Oro phases, circa A.D. 700-850, given the occurrence of isolated sherds that date to this time. However, the earliest features excavated to date are a single pit and several pit structures that date to the Late Rincon phase (A.D. 1100-1150), or more likely, the Late Rincon-Tanque Verde phase (circa A.D. 1100-1200) transition.

Cite this Record

Archaeological Excavations at a Small Portion of the Zanardelli Site, AZ BB:13:1 (ASM), in the Southern Tucson Basin: Phase 2 Data Recovery along Tucson Water's Alternate Route 2, Nogales Highway (U.S. 89), Pima County, Arizona, 05. Mark D. Elson, Deborah L. Swartz. 2017 ( tDAR id: 448383) ; doi:10.48512/XCV8448383

This Resource is Part of the Following Collections

Spatial Coverage

min long: -111.13; min lat: 31.997 ; max long: -110.825; max lat: 32.214 ;

Individual & Institutional Roles

Contact(s): Desert Archaeology, Inc.

Contributor(s): Jenny L. Adams; Michael W. Diehl; Mark D. Elson; James M. Heidke; R. Jane Sliva; Deborah L. Swartz; Christine H. Virden-Lange; Jennifer A. Waters; Patricia Castalia

Sponsor(s): Jonathan B. Mabry

Submitted To(s): City of Tucson

Record Identifiers

Project(s): 15-02

ASM Burial Agreement Case No. (s): 2016-006

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Contact(s): Desert Archaeology, Inc.