DFC-AAS Lecture Opportunity

Roger Kearney here, media writer for the Desert Foothills Chapter of the Arizona Archaeology Society based in Cave Creek.  AAS is a 501-C celebrating over 50 years of existence in 2014 and the Desert Foothill Chapter is a youngster at 40 years old.  The chapter meets September through May on the second Wednesday of each month in Cave Creek and features well known guest lecturers during these meetings.  The meetings are open to the general public at no cost with the exception of the December Christmas Party that is members only. 

PhD Aaron Wright presents A Renewed Study of a Patayan Walk-In Well on the Ranegras Plain in Far-Western Arizona.  The Patayan cultural tradition is one of the least understood archaeological constructs in the Greater Southwest.  While recognized nearly 90 years ago as a distinct assemblage of material culture traits centered on the lower Colorado River, research has always been hampered by poor chronological control.  Few Patayan archaeological sites have been excavated, and of those even fewer have yielded contexts amenable to absolute dating (i.e., radiocarbon or archaeomagnetic).  A dearth of stratified contexts compounds the problem.

Archaeologists have long heralded a site near Bouse, Arizona as a possible panacea for this “Patayan problem.”  First described by the Gila Pueblo Foundation in 1928 as the westernmost Hohokam site because of a conspicuous “hollow mound” (i.e., a ballcourt), a test excavation in 1952 by Michael and June Harner exposed this feature as an eight-meter deep walk-in well containing a variety of artifacts, namely thousands of sherds of Lower Colorado Buffware.  Based on intrusive Hohokam ceramics, Michael Harner reported the well as infilled with stratified deposits.  Unfortunately, an excavation report was never prepared, and the collections have consequently been “orphaned.”  Moreover, the actual location of this site was lost to the archaeological community.

PhD Aaron Wright is a Preservation Archaeologist with Archaeology Southwest, where he leads the organization’s research and conservation efforts along the lower Gila River.  He is the author of Religion on the Rocks: Hohokam Rock Art, Ritual Practice, and Social Transformation (University of Utah Press, 2014), co-author (with Maren Hopkins) of The Great Bend of the Gila: Contemporary Native American Connections to an Ancestral Landscape (Archaeology Southwest, 2016), and co-editor (with Tim Kohler and Mark Varien) of Leaving Mesa Verde: Peril and Change in the Thirteenth-Century Southwest (University of Arizona Press, 2010).  Aaron Wright earned his BA from The Ohio State University (1999), his MA (2006) and PhD (2011) from Washington State University.

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Roger Kearney