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Linda Gregonis- “Whiptail Ruin: Hunters and Migrants in Thirteenth-Century Tucson”

Note: This post refers to an event that took place on Apr 18, 2011.

In the 1960s and 1970s, Arizona Archaeological and Historical Society volunteers, University of Arizona students, and Pima College students excavated Whiptail Ruin, a village in the northeastern Tucson Basin that dates to the mid- to late A.D. 1200s. Analyses of the notes and artifacts from the site are now finished, with some interesting results.

Whiptail Ruin, situated in and around Agua Caliente Park and its hot springs, contains evidence that some of its residents were part of a thirteenth-century migration from the Mogollon highlands. Locally made corrugated pottery, Cibola White ware jars used as cremation urns, obsidian from the Mule Creek source near the Arizona-New Mexico border, and the use of tree-ring datable conifer wood in house building are indicators of strong ties with people outside of the Tucson Basin.

Other evidence suggests that Whiptail’s residents may have been specialized hunters. Skulls, jaws, horns, antlers, and lower leg bones of deer, pronghorn, and bighorn sheep appear to have been stored on shelves or on the roofs of houses. If the Hohokam were doing what historic O’odham hunters did, some of these items may have been parts of hunting costumes, while others were pieces stored away to protect the other villagers from the power of the animals that were killed.

In April’s talk, Linda Gregonis will discuss the possible role of hunting specialists and migrant families in the early Classic period as well as describing the challenges of working with data recovered and field notes made nearly 40 years ago by avocationalists and archaeological students.