Monday, March 18, 2019

90th Anniversary Blog Series: Artifact 5


90th Anniversary Blog Series #5
In 2019, Pueblo Grande Museum (PGM) will be observing our 90th anniversary as an institution. As part of our celebration, we’re featuring interesting research happening at PGM.

One of our largest research projects is the fifth volume of the Pueblo Grande Archival Project Series (Archival Series). The project began in 1989 with the goal of creating an archaeological report for the unpublished excavations conducted within the boundaries of Pueblo Grande Museum and Archaeological Park. These excavations began in 1929 and continued into the 1980s. Before the Archival Series, the results of more than 50 years of work had never been published or reported. To date, three volumes have been published.
The fifth volume of the Archival Series will focus on objects excavated from the site, and the documentation is being conducted by professional archaeologists who are volunteering their time. We’ve asked each archaeologist to select the most interesting object they’ve analyzed for a blog series leading into our 90th year as Pueblo Grande Museum!
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Our fifth featured blog is by City Archaeologist Laurene Montero – Laurene manages Phoenix’s City Archaeology Office and is advisor to the Phoenix Chapter of the Arizona Archaeological Society, has served as Board Member at Large on the Arizona Archaeological Council, and currently serves on the Tempe Historic Preservation Commission.

For the Archival Series, Todd Bostwick and I compiled a study of non-local ceramics found at the site of Pueblo Grande. My favorite non-local ceramics are the San Francisco Mountain Gray Ware pottery sherds. They’re interesting because they are somewhat uncommon at Hohokam sites and they came from farther away than most other non-local sherds found at the site.

Figure 1. Deadmans Black-on-gray

Studies of this pottery ware indicate that some of the volcanic minerals contained within its paste were obtained from an old rock formation at the bottom of the Grand Canyon! Despite decades of research, a definitive clay source for this pottery ware has not yet been identified.  Potters who made San Francisco Mountain Gray Ware must have gone to considerable effort to obtain their materials.
We do know that San Francisco Mountain Gray Ware was produced between AD 750/800 to 1100 by the Cohonina Culture of northern Arizona – a culture that lived on the Coconino Plateau in an area that extends from south of the Grand Canyon to Flagstaff and Williams.

Figure 2. Floyd Black-on-gray
Both are types of San Francisco Mountain Gray Ware.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

90th Anniversary Blog Series: Artifact 4

In 2019, Pueblo Grande Museum (PGM) will be observing our 90th anniversary as an institution. As part of our celebration, we’re featuring interesting research happening at PGM. 
One of our largest research projects is the fifth volume of the Pueblo Grande Archival Project Series (Archival Series). The project began in 1989 with the goal of creating an archaeological report for the unpublished excavations conducted within the boundaries of Pueblo Grande Museum and Archaeological Park. These excavations began in 1929 and continued into the 1980s. Before the Archival Series, the results of more than 50 years of work had never been published or reported. To date, three volumes have been published.

The fifth volume of the Archival Series will focus on objects excavated from the site, and the documentation is being conducted by professional archaeologists who are volunteering their time. We’ve asked each archaeologist to select the most interesting object they’ve analyzed for a blog series leading into our 90th year as Pueblo Grande Museum!
Our fourth featured blog is by Volume 5 researchers Craig M. Fertelmes PhD. of Logan Simpson, Inc. and Michael Stubing of Jacobs Engineering, Inc.

Ground Stone Analysis For the Pueblo Grande Archival Project Series:

As part of on-going research for the fifth volume of the Pueblo Grande Museum (PGM) Archival Project Series, analysis of the utilitarian ground stone (manos, metates, mortars, and pestles) was conducted. The purpose of the ground stone analysis was to provide a descriptive summary of previously unreported artifacts from PGM, and to help answer research questions specific to both the ground stone collection and to the overall archival project. While many noteworthy results have come to light from the analysis, one of the more interesting aspects is learning where the material to make the manos, metates, and other ground stone artifacts found at PGM originally came from.

With the help of portable X-ray fluorescence (PXRF) technology, archaeologists are now able to determine the source locations of many material types, including the lithic resources used to make ground stone. The PXRF technology uses sophisticated hardware to measure geochemical attributes in rocks (and other materials) in a non-destructive fashion. By matching the geochemical signatures in the analyzed artifacts with samples from source areas in the region, archaeologists can pinpoint the locations that served as ground stone quarries.

As part of the PGM analysis, 50 vesicular basalt (an igneous rock prized for its suitability as ground stone) artifacts were subjected to PXRF analysis. The artifacts consisted of 29 manos and 21 metates. The PXRF analysis found that three source locations accounted for the vast majority of ground stone artifacts in the sample: the Middle Gila River Valley, the New River region, and the McDowell Mountains each accounted for approximately one-third of the total sample.

Interestingly, these three primary source locations are situated at roughly the same distance from PGM. The Middle Gila River Valley includes the San Tan Mountains, which are located approximately 40-45 km (25-28 mi.) southeast of PGM. The New River source region consists of several low mountains including Adobe Mountain, the Deem Hills, Hedgpeth Hills, and West Wing Mountain; this area is approximately 30-40 km (19-25 mi.) northwest of PGM. The McDowell Mountains are northeast of PGM, approximately 24-28 km (15-18 mi.) away.

The above areas have been previously documented as important ground stone raw material sources for the Hohokam, and the results of the PXRF study will help to solidify these designations. However, it is interesting to note that residents of Pueblo Grande made use of multiple sources located roughly the same distance from the site, rather than relying on a single location. Whether this was due to trade conditions, production/control systems in place at the time, a preference for lithic characteristics from each source, or other reasons is still unknown; however, the ground stone analysis of the PGM collection has helped to identify which sources were utilized the most.


Wednesday, January 16, 2019

90th Anniversary Blog Series: Artifact 3


In 2019, Pueblo Grande Museum (PGM) will be observing our 90th anniversary as an institution. As part of our celebration, we’re featuring interesting research happening at PGM.
One of our largest research projects is the fifth volume of the Pueblo Grande Archival Project Series (Archival Series). The project began in 1989 with the goal of creating an archaeological report for the unpublished excavations conducted within the boundaries of Pueblo Grande Museum and Archaeological Park. These excavations began in 1929 and continued into the 1980s. Before the Archival Series, the results of more than 50 years of work had never been published or reported. To date, three volumes have been published.
The fifth volume of the Archival Series will focus on objects excavated from the site, and the documentation is being conducted by professional archaeologists who are volunteering their time. We’ve asked each archaeologist to select the most interesting object they’ve analyzed for a blog series leading into our 90th year as Pueblo Grande Museum!
Our third featured blog is by volume 5 researcher Mark L. Chenault, PhD. - Mark is a principal investigator with WestLand Resources, Inc.

To me the most interesting artifact I have analyzed from the collections at Pueblo Grande Museum is a Hohokam palette with remnants of a painted design on its border (Figure 1). The artifact measures 11.9 cm by 6.5 cm, and its border is separated from the basin by incised grooves. Although the palette was not discovered in a datable context, its morphology and characteristics place it in the Sacaton phase. Decorative elements on the palette’s border consist of remnants of triangles in white paint on the end borders and white bars on the side borders. Roughly rectangular shapes in brown paint are visible in the corners. What is believed to be a crust of iron oxide is located on the basin portion of the item.
Hohokam palettes with painted decoration are exceedingly rare. However, while conducting excavations at the site of Pozos de Sonoqui in the Queen Creek area, my colleagues and I found another palette with a painted border (Figure 2). The design on the raised border consists of a running pattern of incised triangles, with incised spirals on the corners of the border. The inner row of triangles is painted a reddish-orange color. The outer row of triangles is hatched with incised lines. This palette is also now in the collections at Pueblo Grande Museum.
Although rare, the existence of painted palettes has been known for some time. Emil Haury illustrated a palette from Snaketown with painted elements. The palette had an incised and painted border in alternating sections. The painted sections were blocked out in yellow with black outlines. That item—and one other painted palette—were the only such examples found at Snaketown; both palettes dated to the Sacaton phase. In addition, in a 1990-1991 study of palettes from throughout the region, Stephen Lekson identified two palettes with painted areas on their borders. As Haury stated, it is possible that the painting of palettes was a common practice, but that paint on stone was impermanent and was rarely preserved. 

 Figure 1.  The painted palette from Pueblo Grande.

Figure 2.  Palette with painted design from Pozos de Sonoqui.


Mark Chenault has a Ph.D. from the University of Colorado at Boulder.  He has conducted archaeological research in the Mesa Verde region, Central America, and throughout Arizona.  He is a senior principal investigator for WestLand Resources.

Sunday, December 23, 2018

90th Anniversary Blog Series: Artifact 2

In 2019, Pueblo Grande Museum (PGM) will be observing our 90th anniversary as an institution. As part of our celebration, we’re featuring interesting research happening at PGM.
One of our largest research projects is the fifth volume of the Pueblo Grande Archival Project Series (Archival Series). The project began in 1989 with the goal of creating an archaeological report for the unpublished excavations conducted within the boundaries of Pueblo Grande Museum and Archaeological Park. These excavations began in 1929 and continued into the 1980s. Before the Archival Series, the results of more than 50 years of work had never been published or reported. To date, three volumes have been published.
The fifth volume of the Archival Series will focus on objects excavated from the site, and the documentation is being conducted by professional archaeologists who are volunteering their time. We’ve asked each archaeologist to select the most interesting object they’ve analyzed for a blog series leading into our 90th year as Pueblo Grande Museum!
Our second featured blog is by volume 5 researcher Andrea Gregory - Andrea is the senior faunal and shell analyst for Archaeological Consulting Services, Ltd.

Although thousands of pieces of shell jewelry have been recovered from excavations at Pueblo Grande, a pendant crafted from a marine bivalve in the shaped of a horned toad illustrates the skill of Hohokam shell craftspeople in creating items with detail and life, even while working with fragile materials.


1:J1:277, Laevicardium horned toad pendant.

Lizard motifs are thought to represent animals encountered regularly during Hohokam life (Jernigan 1978), and Akimel O’odham ethnographies describe wooden effigies of lizards and horned toads that were used by medicine men to cure diseases (Russell 1908:107, 123). Another lizard reference is found in a preface to the Akimel O’odham myth of Thin Leather, which describes Morning Green Chief, the ruler of Casa Grande, as having a daughter who finds a lizard that falls from the sky. The lizard becomes a large mass of turquoise stones, which are collected as decorations for the great-house settlement (Bahr et al. 1994:138).

References Cited
Bahr, Donald, Juan Smith, William Smith Allison, and Julian Hayden
  1994     The Short Swift Time of Gods on Earth: The Hohokam Chronicles. University of California Press, Berkeley.

Jernigan, E. Wesley
  1978     Jewelry of the Prehistoric Southwest. University of New Mexico Press, Albuquerque.

Russell, Frank
  1908     The Pima Indians. Twenty-Sixth Annual Report of the Bureau of American Ethnology, 1904–1905. Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Sherds! Glorious Sherds!


A larger "life-size" print of this photograph is currently on display in our Changing Gallery exhibit Fragments: Broken Bowls Tell More Tales" It is from Pueblo Grande Museum’s (PGM) photo archives. The southwest corner of the platform mound is visible at the upper left of the photograph. This jumble of sherds is the “sherd discard pile” at Pueblo Grande ca. 1935 – 1940. During that time, workers at PGM saved only “museum quality” specimens and discarded the others (for example - plainware and redware sherds).

Notes from our Curator: 
We have 3 pieces of primary information on this photo - 
1.    A caption with an original prints states "Sherd Count - one season's work - Ca. 1/2 million sherds analyzed."
2.    There a comment in a monthly progress report that references this sherd pile it states “The pottery store room [at Pueblo Grande Museum] was cleaned up and all accumulated sherd bags were disposed of according to proper designation. All type sherd[s] were segregated and prepared for type collections. The discard pile was moved and a number of type sherds, design sherds, and even intrusive sherds were recovered” January, 1940.
3.    The archaeologist, Julian Hayden, believed that these sherds were taken to “the dump” (1990)

What ultimately happened to this sherd pile remains unknown, however, I think this photo is a great example of how the archaeological and museum professions have changed over time. We believe that these sherds were “discarded” because workers thought that no other information could be gained from saving them.
I use illustrations like this photo to advocate for the preservation of archaeological specimens and data. Just think what else we’d know had the sherds in this photo been kept with their provenience information! We never know what advances will come, and saving even the most trivial objects today can have big implications on future research.
For more information, see The Archaeology of the Pueblo Grande Platform Mound and Surrounding Features, Volume 1 (pg. 127-9).

Monday, October 8, 2018

Meet the Artist: Xavier Quijas Yxayotl

Come listen to Xavier Quijas Yxayotl make the earth sing with his hand-made traditional Mayan and Aztec instruments on Sunday, October, 28 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Pueblo Grande Museum. Under the night sky on the Museum patio next to the prehistoric ruins of Pueblo Grande, Xavier shares stories of the cultural significance of various instruments and how they were used in Pre-Columbian Mesoamerica.

Recognized as the foremost authority on the reproduction and performance of traditional Mayan and Aztec instruments, Xavier Quijas Yxayotl expertly crafts flutes and ocarinas according to ancient manuscripts. But perhaps what he is most recognized for is his skillful reproductions of the Aztec Death Whistle ancient instrument commonly carved into the shape of a skull. Which produces a terrifying, hair-raising sound that once heard, is never forgotten. 





Xavier will demonstrate a variety of instruments, many hand made by Xavier himself from ceramic, jade, and stone. This special presentation offers a unique view of Mesoamerican indigenous culture through stories, music, art and instruments. After the presentation, guests will have the opportunity to meet Xavier and purchase music, art, and other merchandise created by the artist.

Tickets are $10 in advance online or in the Museum Store with Discounts for Museum Members. Or $12 the day of, in person ONLY at the Pueblo Grande Museum Store during regular store hours of 1 to 4:30 p.m. Online sales end at midnight October 27.

This Meet the Artist Concert is part of a Fall and Spring concert series made possible through the collaborative efforts of local independent recording label Canyon Records, and the Pueblo Grande Museum Auxiliary. This partnership is a continuation of the programming that accompanied the premiere One World, Many Voices: The Artistry of Canyon Records exhibit to provide a variety of platforms for Native American music and expression currently touring around the state of Arizona.


This intimate performance has limited seating.

This is a fundraising event for the Pueblo Grande Museum Auxiliary in partnership with Canyon Records. There are NO Refunds for this performance.

Event Details:
Where: Pueblo Grande Museum Back Patio (will be moved inside if weather requires)
When: Sunday, October 28, 2018
Time: Doors Open at 6 p.m.; Performance Begins at 6:30 p.m.; Meet & Greet at 7:30 p.m.
Tickets: $10 advanced online or in Museum Store, Discount for Museum Members; Day of tickets are $12, available in Museum Store ONLY during opening hours of 1 to 4:45 p.m.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

90th Anniversary Blog Series: Artifact 1

In 2019, Pueblo Grande Museum (PGM) will be observing our 90th anniversary as an institution. As part of our celebration, we’re featuring interesting research happening at PGM.

One of our largest research projects is the fifth volume of the Pueblo Grande Archival Project Series (Archival Series). The project began in 1989 with the goal of creating an archaeological report for the unpublished excavations conducted within the boundaries of Pueblo Grande Museum and Archaeological Park. These excavations began in 1929 and continued into the 1980s. Before the Archival Series, the results of more than 50 years of work had never been published or reported. To date, three volumes have been published.
The fifth volume of the Archival Series will focus on objects excavated from the site, and the documentation is being conducted by professional archaeologists who are volunteering their time. We’ve asked each archaeologist to select the most interesting object they’ve analyzed for a blog series leading into our 90th year as Pueblo Grande Museum!
Our first featured artifact blog is by volume 5 researcher Holly Young, “Retired” Curator of Collections - Holly managed the collections at Pueblo Grande Museum for over 25 years and is a mentor for current staff members.

A long time ago, I started to write a chapter on the wood artifacts discovered at the Pueblo Grande site during the CCC and WPA sponsored archaeological projects. While the Hohokam probably used wood to make many objects, wood does not survive well in open air sites, and there are few surviving examples of any kind from the Hohokam culture area. The temptation is to use historical analogues to describe and imply function for ancient objects. Here is one that has defied all of my poor attempts at description or anything else.



It has a “handle” which is not centered, so it’s probably not a pottery paddle and besides, there is no evidence of pottery making at Pueblo Grande.

It has that large notch in the “blade”, as well as a notch in the end of the “handle.” I can’t tell you how often I have flipped my opinion of these notches, over whether they were created by the maker of this object, or if they are simply an accident of preservation. I think my latest conviction is that they were created by the maker. Although the questions of “why” and “what for” remain to trouble me.