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Excavations at Punta de Agua in the Santa Cruz River Basin, Southeastern Arizona

Excavations at Punta de Agua in the Santa Cruz River Basin, Southeastern Arizona

Copyright Date: 1975
Pages: 122
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  • Book Info
    Excavations at Punta de Agua in the Santa Cruz River Basin, Southeastern Arizona
    Book Description:

    The Anthropological Papers No. 26.Salvage, archaeology explores Indian cultural development during Rillito, Rincon, and Tanque Verde phases.

    eISBN: 978-0-8165-3392-3
    Subjects: Sociology, Archaeology
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Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter (pp. 1-4)
  2. Table of Contents (pp. 5-6)
  4. LIST OF TABLES (pp. 7-8)
  5. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS (pp. 9-9)
  6. THE SETTING (pp. 11-14)

    Of ten sites investigated in this salvage operation all except two were situated on the San Xavier Indian Reservation, Pima County, Arizona (Fig. A). The center of the occupied prehistoric zone is nearly two and one-half miles south of the present Mission of San Xavier del Bac which, in turn, is centrally located between the two most prominent landmarks in the area—Black Mountain to the west, and Sahuarita Butte (Martinez Hill) to the east. Modern Tucson lies about ten miles north, downstream on the Santa Cruz River.

    Most of the surveyed sites were found on ridges between arroyos or...


    Interstate 19 enters the San Xavier Indian Reservation on the east side of the Santa Cruz River, then crosses to the west bank at the narrows opposite Sahuarita Butte (Martinez Hill). From this point south, the right-of-way cuts a series of low ridges which are intersected by northeast-trending arroyos. It is on these ridges that the largest settlements were constructed. Below the ridges beyond the upper terrace is the west and older channel of the Santa Cruz River. Recent maps indicate that the main channel has moved about one mile to the east primarily due to continued erosion in the...

  8. 2. THE PUNTA DE AGUA SITES (pp. 20-44)

    This chapter includes a synopsis of the architectural discoveries at four of the excavated sites: Arizona BB: 13: 50, Arizona BB: 13:43, Arizona BB: 13:41, and Arizona BB: 13: 16. One additional site, Arizona BB: 13:49, which was a trash mound area, is also reviewed (Fig. 2.1).

    Certain terms are introduced in this discussion regarding the dispersal of houses at the principal sites. Each site is separated into “units.” A unit is nothing more than an arbitrary grouping of houses in one part of a site, spatially separated from the rest. Such a determination aided in describing the houses and,...

  9. 3. THE CERAMICS (pp. 45-77)

    The Tucson Basin pottery sequence was originally developed from the material recovered at the Hodges site (Kelly n.d.). It was devised so that types were neatly placed in local phases occupying time periods identical to their Gila Basin counterparts.

    Those sherds and vessels of the Pioneer period, found along the Rillito River, are indistinguishable from the pottery originally described in the Gila Basin with one key exception. In Tucson, Snaketown Red-on-buff became Snaketown Red-on-brown since it lacked the slip of the Gila (Kelly n.d.:III:1-10). Therefore, when any reference is made below to early phases of the Pioneer period and their...

  10. 4. CERAMIC ARTIFACTS (pp. 78-84)

    The inventory of ceramic artifacts includes items fashioned from clay and then fired. The familiar examples are modeled spindle whorls, human figurines, and animal effigies. Another category covers the secondary uses of sherds that were ground and polished into spindle whorls, discs, and eccentric shapes.

    Two of the human figurine heads were especially deserving of further attention and are mentioned in detail below.

    Eight whole and fragmentary modeled whorls were recovered from the Punta de Agua sites (Fig. 4.1g-n). They are listed below using terminology developed by Haury (1945: 115-117). The provenience, in each case, was in association with late...

  11. 5. STONE ARTIFACTS (pp. 85-97)

    It is remarkable that from the Punta de Agua sites such a relatively small collection of stone tools was found. Projectile points and metates were especially notable for their scarcity. Only from two locations was anything found resembling a complete assemblage of normal household tools. For all intents and purposes, it seems the villagers always had time to remove valuable tools from an abandoned house.

    Of more than passing interest were two slate palettes of Rillito phase cremations, a good range of stone bowls, an interesting mortar for red pigment, and a well-executed bird effigy.

    From the five larger sites...

  12. 6. OTHER TECHNOLOGY (pp. 98-100)

    Just six cut bone artifacts were recovered from all the Punta de Agua sites. Each of these is a fragment of a bone awl. They all appear to have been manufactured from split metapodials of either deer or mountain sheep. Five of the specimens were charred by fire; the remaining one consists of only the tip.

    Considering the extent of testing at Punta de Agua, not many examples of complete shell items were found. There was, however, good evidence that shell working was practiced at the sites. Partly finished ornaments and discarded pieces testify to local enterprise. The following species...

  13. 7. MORTUARY PRACTICES (pp. 101-105)

    Work at the four major sites at Punta de Agua revealed 18 cremations and two inhumations. The limits imposed by the highway right-of-way precluded the discovery of any burial zones at Arizona BB: 13:41 and BB: 13:43. At the latter site, in a large arroyo east of the village, one cremation exposed by erosion was salvaged. Three interesting Rillito Red-on-brown vessels were saved and are illustrated in Figure 3.2a, c, and d. This same area contained much evidence of Rillito and Tanque Verde phase occupation while the excavated portion was exclusively of the Rincon phase.

    Most of the cremations were...

  14. 8. FOOD RESOURCES (pp. 106-107)

    The meager collection of faunal bones from two seasons’ work is presented in Table 8.1.

    The Harris ground squirrel, cottontail, tortoise, and mule deer may still be found in the vicinity of Punta de Agua. However, it is not absolutely certain that the remains of the first three animals are prehistoric as each is a burrowing species.

    The wolf-size bones are quite rare in an archaeological context. It was noted that they are larger than an average coyote.

    The fact that the Punta de Agua district offered a variety of opportunities for the success of cultivated plants has already been...

  15. 9. CONCLUSIONS (pp. 108-110)

    The nature of salvage archaeology is that it is often performed under difficult and rather restrictive conditions. Therefore, the data recovered do not always offer new insight or even permit speculations into the lifeways of past societies. An investigator is, in fact, lucky if he can expose and define new material traits. At Punta de Agua, tantalizing glimpses of new traits did present themselves. They cannot certainly be attributed to any single source, but probably are products of local innovation, of new population increments joining the existing community, or reflect indirect influence from adjacent cultural areas. In addition, a few...

  19. REFERENCES (pp. 117-120)
  20. INDEX (pp. 121-122)