Rock Art Ranch Fieldschool

Location: Winslow, Arizona, United States

June 1, 2015 to July 4, 2015

Application Deadline: 
Friday, March 13, 2015

Flyer: 2015_brochure_for_posting.pdf

Discount for AIA members: 

Program Type

Field school


School of Anthropology, University of Arizona

Project Director:

E. Charles Adams, PhD

Project Description

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 2011-14, the fieldschool surveyed 3000 acres locating a total of 138 sites and loci that have been mapped and collected. More than 65 sites and loci are pre-ceramic with estimated ranges of occupation between 2000 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 possibly 11,000 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 20 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 2015 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 2015, and 3) continue excavations for a third year at the Multi-kiva site. Accomplishing these will allow the fieldschool to expand its understanding of how the landscape was used by groups over the past 13,000 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.

Project size: 
1-24 participants

Minimum Length of Stay for Volunteers: 25 days - entire field season

Minimum age: 

Experience required: 

Room and Board Arrangements

All room, board and transportation is provided by the University of Arizona and is paid out of tuition and fees. Students will stay in wood frame cottages at the ranch. Near the cottages are restroom and shower facilities separated by gender. All housing is adjacent to the dining hall, which has electricity and running water with two bathrooms and a kitchen. There is also a small museum on site. Breakfast and dinner will be served in the dining hall and lunch will be eaten in the field. Students will be transported in University of Arizona vehicles to Rock Art Ranch from Tucson at the beginning and end of the fieldschool.

$1,200 fee for accommodations

Academic Credit

Name of institution offering credit: 
University of Arizona
Number of credits offered 7
$380/undergrad; $420/grad per credit hour


Contact Information
E. Charles Adams
PO Box 210026, Arizona State Museum, University of Arizona
Recommended Bibliography: 

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

Cole, Sally J.(1990) Legacy on Stone: Rock Art of the Colorado Plateau and Four Corners Region. Johnson Books, Boulder.

Cole, Sally J (1996) Middle Little Colorado River Rock Art and Relationships with the San Juan Anasazi. In River of Change: Prehistory of the Middle Little Colorado River Valley, Arizona, edited by E. Charles Adams, pp. 107-139. Arizona State Museum Archaeological Series 185. 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.

Lange, Richard C. (1998) Prehistoric Land-Use and Settlement of the Middle Little Colorado River Valley: the Survey of Homolovi Ruins State Park, Winslow, Arizona. Arizona State Museum, Archaeological Series, No. 189. 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.

Smiley, Francis (2002) The First Black Mesa Farmers: The White Dog and Lolomai Phases. In Prehistoric Culture Change on the Colorado Plateau: Ten Thousand Years on Black Mesa, edited by Shirley Powell, and Francis E. Smile, pp. 37-65. University of Arizona Press, Tucson.