Location: Winslow, Arizona, United States
Rock Art Ranch is a private ranch 25 miles southeast of Winslow, AZ, that still raises cattle and bison. The ranch contains some of the Southwest’s most spectacular rock art dating from 6000 BCE. to 1300 CE, which has been completely documented. The ranch lies in the high desert at 5100’ elevation, in an area used over the past eight thousand years by mobile hunting and gathering groups, early farmers, and later, after C.E. 500, by more sedentary farmers representing archaeological cultures of the adjacent Mogollon Rim and Colorado Plateau regions. Until the fieldschool began in 2011, no professional archaeological work had been conducted on the ranch or its nearest neighbors other than documentation of the petroglyphs.
From 2011-13, the fieldschool surveyed 2400 acres locating a total of 95 sites and loci that have been mapped and collected. Twenty-five sites are pre-ceramic with estimated ranges of occupation between 1000 BCE to 500 CE. However, the abundance of early and middle archaic spear points collected on the landscape indicates periodic use of the area dating back to at least 6000 BCE. The other 70 sites have ceramics and date between 600-1250 CE.
In 2011-12 excavations were conducted at two small pueblos dating to ca. 1250 CE revealing a partially subterranean pueblo room in one that may be a kiva and several rooms with stone masonry and an outside work area having numerous features for food preparation in the other site. Additionally, one pit house and two storage features date to the pre-ceramic period at the second pueblo site. In 2013 excavations shifted to the Multi-kiva Site, a pueblo having 30-50 rooms located 11 miles southwest of the ranch. These limited excavations indicate the pueblo dates about 1200 CE and was remodeled. Remodeling and the extensive midden east of the pueblo suggest a lengthy occupation.
The goals of the 2014 field season are to: 1) complete survey of areas on the western edge of the ranch, especially along Bell Cow Canyon, totaling another 600 acres, 2) test burned features in pre-ceramic sites documented in 2011-13, and 3) continue excavations at the two pueblos and the Multi-kiva site. Accomplishing these will allow the fieldschool to gain an understanding of how the landscape was used by groups over the past 6-8000 years, how and why groups migrated to and from the area, the nature and direction of exchange with groups outside the area, and what role rock art played in communicating identity and ownership. Excavations will help develop a tighter chronology for the area, provide details on regional affiliation of settlers, identify the nature and regional organization of exchange relations, determine length of site occupation and subsistence base, and whether occupants of the latest pueblos in the study area migrated to Homol’ovi pueblos along the Little Colorado River, which were founded between 1260-90.
Period(s) of Occupation: Neolithic: American Southwest, 3500 B.C.E. to 1250 C.E.
Minimum Length of Stay for Volunteers: 25 days - entire field season
Room and Board Arrangements
Adams, E. Charles (2002) Homol'ovi: an Ancient Hopi Settlement Cluster. University of Arizona, Tucson
Bohrer, Vorsila L. (2007) Preceramic Subsistence in Two Rock Shelters in Fresnal Canyon, South Central New Mexico. Arizona State Museum Archaeological Series No. 199. University of Arizona, Tucson
Huckell, Bruce B. (1995) Of Marshes and Maize: Prehistoric Agricultural Settlements in the Cienega Valley, Southeastern Arizona. Anthropological Papers No. 59. University of Arizona, Tucson.
McBrinn, Maxine (2005) Social Identities among Archaic Mobile Hunters and Gatherers in the American Southwest. Arizona State Museum Archaeological Series No. 197. University of Arizona, Tucson.