Middle–Late Desert Archaic
The Middle–Late Desert Archaic tradition extends from 8000 to 500 BP in southwestern United States (Arizona, New Mexico, southwestern Colorado, and Utah) and northern Mexico (Chihuahua and Sonora). The people were primarily hunters and gatherers. At the end of the time period they began to use domesticated maize, squash and, lastly, beans that were introduced from Mesoamerica. They lived in small, mobile social groups using huts or pithouses mainly for storage. After 2000 BP the Middle–Late Desert Archaic is distinguished from overlapping traditions by evidence for relatively greater reliance on hunting and gathering, and by the absence of ceramics.
Select the Tradition Summary link above for a longer description of the culture.
North America --Southwest and Basin
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Documents referred to in this section are included in the eHRAF collection and are referenced by author, date of publication, and eHRAF document number.
The Middle to Late Desert Archaic collection discusses the Middle to Late Archaic tradition in the Southwest of the United States (Arizona, New Mexico, southwest Colorado, and Utah) and northern Mexico (Chihuahua and Sonora). It occurred from around 8000 BP to 500 BP.
Readers will find there is some overlap in time periods and material culture between the Early Archaic and Late Archaic traditions and other traditions that occurred in the Southwest such as Hohokam or Mogollon. Although each collection is marked for the OCM (Outline of Cultural Materials) codes that pertain to its own time period and location, readers are encouraged to examine the documents in the other collections for additional, information. In particular the reader is directed to the following archaeological traditons: Basketmaker (NT93), Early Desert Archaic (NT50), Hohokam (NT76), and Mogollon (NT85).
No document provides an overview of the whole geographic range of this tradition. However readers will find overviews of several subtraditions. MacNeish and Wilner (1998, no. 5) summarize the findings from Pintada Rockshelter in New Mexico and compare that site with nearby sites from the same time period. MacNeish (1998, no. 6) examines the archaeology of southern New Mexico and northern Mexico. MacNeish (1993, no. 7) while investigating the origins of agriculture and settled life presents cultural summaries of the Gardener Springs, Keystone, Fresnal, and Hueco phases of the Archaic in the Jornado. MacNeish and Wilner (1993, no. 15) reconstruct the way of life at three rockshelters in the Jornado in southwestern New Mexico. The final overview is by MacNeish and Beckett (1987, no. 49) who provide a cultural summary for the Chihuahua subtradition.
There are several documents that discuss the excavation of Pintada rockshelter on the McGregor Firing Range in New Mexico. Smith and MacNeish (1998, no. 2) discuss the research objectives and the physical environment of the rockshelter. MacNeish (1998, no. 3) describes the field techniques and stratigraphy. MacNeish and Wilner (1998, no. 4) discuss the artifacts and the dating of the site. The references for these documents can be found in MacNeish, (1998, no. 1).
A collection of documents discuss preliminary investigations in the Tularosa Basin for the US Army Air Defense Artillery Center near Las Cruces New Mexico. Anderson (1993, no. 8) describes the physical environment, land use, and settlement patterns. Dawson (1993, no. 9) analyzed a sample of the faunal remains from Todsen Rockshelter and he conducted experimental tools for use-wear analysis to help in analysis of the archaeological tools (Dawson 1993, no. 13). Hill (1993, no. 14), at Todsen Cave, analyzes the ceramics. Upham and MacNeish (1993, no. 10) explore the earliest agriculture for the Jornado region. MacNeish and Marino (1993, no. 11) examine diet for the Archaic people of the Jornado by analyzing stable isotope ratios from bone collagen. Downs (1993, no. 12) analyzed organic residues on lithic artifacts.
Cultural Resource Management excavations in the middle Santa Cruz Valley, Arizona are the focus of five documents. Mabry (1997, no. 17) briefly describes the four archaeological sites: the Santa Cruz Bend site, the Square Hearth site, the Stone Pipe site, and the Canal site. In more detail, Mabry and Archer (1997, no. 18) cover the Santa Cruz Bend site, Wöcherl and Clark (1997, no. 19) examine the Square Hearth site, and Swartz and Lindeman (1997, no. 20) describe the findings from Stone Pipe site, including a communal structure. Mabry’s last document (1997, no. 21) on the Canal site is outside the time period for the Middle-Late Desert Archaic and was not marked for OCM Identifiers. Mabry et al (1997, no. 16) contains the references for documents nos. 17-21.
More Cultural Resource Management investigations occurred near Tucson, Arizona for an aqueduct to the Picacho Reservoir. Bayham (1986, no. 23) describes the project and the archaic sites that were going to be negatively impacted by the construction. Waters (1986, no. 24) describes the geoarchaeological investigations for the study area. Bayham; et al. (1986, no. 25) describe the fieldwork and the sites found in the dune fields. More detailed descriptions of the various sites are found in Bayham et al. (1986, nos. 26-27), Shackley et al. (1986, no. 29), and Most (1986, no. 31). Shackley (1986, no. 28 and no. 30) analyzes the lithic data, including the obsidian artifacts. Bayham (1986, no. 32) analyzes the projectile points. Morris (1986, no. 33) analyzed the ground stone and the ceramics (Morris 1986, no. 34). Gish (1986, no. 35) analyzed pollen for environmental reconstruction and site seasonality. Additional floral analyses were done by Raymer and. Minnis (1986, no. 36). Faunal studies were completed by Bayham (1986, no. 37) with hunting patterns examined by Bayham and Shackley (1986, no. 38). A synthesis of the project data can be found in Bayham and Morris (1986, no. 39). The appendices cover dating ( Bayham et al. 1986, no. 40 and Bayham 1986, no. 41), ground stone (Bayham et al. 1986, no. 42), lithic artifacts (Bayham et al. 1986, nos. 43-44), ceramics (Bayham et al. 1986, no. 45), floral analyses (Bayham et al. 1986, nos. 46-47), and faunal analyses (Bayham et al. no. 48). The references for these documents can be found in Bayham et al. (1986, no. 22).
Finally, Whalen (1994, no. 50) discusses the transition from mobile foragers to semi-sedentary farmers in the Rio Grande valley of south-central New Mexico and western Texas. Also exploring early agriculture Wills (1988, no. 51) proposes a new hypothesis for the adoption of agriculture in the Southwest, exploring social organization and the socioeconomic system.
For further information on individual works in this collection, see the abstracts in the citations preceding each document.
Butchering – Use HUNTING AND TRAPPING (224)
Band aggregation – Use VISITING AND HOSPITALITY (574)
Band interactions – Use SOCIAL RELATIONSHIPS AND GROUPS (571)
Bottle gourd –for the cultivation of or presence in an archaeological site– Use SPECIAL CROPS (249)
Burned structures – Use FIRE (372)
Caches – Use SAVING AND INVESTMENT (454)
Cremations – Use BURIAL PRACTICES AND FUNERALS (764) –when specifically referring to secondary cremation– Use MOURNING (765)
Communal activities –for communal activities that occurred within a structure use– Use PUBLIC STRUCTURES (344)
Communal structures –structures that may have been used for communal storage, for a communal gathering place, or for some other communal function– Use PUBLIC STRUCTURES (344)
Dog burial – Use SPECIAL BURIAL PRACTICES AND FUNERALS (766)
Facial tools –tools with faces such as bifaces and projectile points. When the author only lists facial tools and does not specify projectile points– Use GENERAL TOOLS (412)
Gourds –for information on the remains of gourds in archaeological sites or their cultivation– Use VEGETABLE PRODUCTION (244)
Grinding stones – Use GENERAL TOOLS (412) with FOOD PREPARATION (252)
Household assemblages –the artifacts found within a pit structure– Use HOUSEHOLD (592)
Large structures – Use PUBLIC STRUCTURES (344)
Lithic raw material transportation – Use TRAVEL (484)
Manos – Use GENERAL TOOLS (412) with FOOD PREPARATION (252)
Metates – Use GENERAL TOOLS (412) with FOOD PREPARATION (252)
Mica –when its presence is noted within an archaeological site use– Use SPECIAL DEPOSITS (317)
Mullers and milling stones "Objects used in a round-and-round grinding motion, a process often used on seeds, but not corn …" –page 130; from Richard S. MacNeish 1998 Excavation of Pintada Rockshelter on McGregor Firing Range in New Mexico . Use GENERAL TOOLS (412) with FOOD PREPARATION (252)
Ochre –when its presence is noted within an archaeological site– Use SPECIAL DEPOSITS (317)
Paint palettes –Palettes for mixing colors. When its use is unspecified– Use PAINT AND DYE MANUFACTURE (386) –when the author specifies for cosmetic– Use PERSONAL GROOMING (302)
Pit Structures – Use DWELLINGS (342)
Procurement range "The geographic expanse utilized for subsistence procurement by any or all member of the group. Obsidian Geochemistry and Lithic Technology: Inferences for Archaic Hunter-Gatherer Procurement Ranges." –page 186 from M. Steven Shackley In Prehistoric Hunter-Gatherers of South Central Arizona: the Picacho Reservoir Archaic Project by Bayham et al. 1986. Office of Cultural Resource Management Department of Anthropology, Arizona State University, Anthropological Field Studies, Number 13. "The geographic expanse utilized for subsistence procurement by any or all member of the group. Obsidian Geochemistry and Lithic Technology: Inferences for Archaic Hunter-Gatherer Procurement Ranges." –page 186 from M. Steven Shackley In Prehistoric Hunter-Gatherers of South Central Arizona: the Picacho Reservoir Archaic Project by Bayham et al. 1986. Office of Cultural Resource Management Department of Anthropology, Arizona State University, Anthropological Field Studies, Number 13. Use LAND USE (311)
Regionalization or regional subtraditions –when a specific subtradition is not named– Use CULTURAL PARTICIPATION (184)
Roasting pits – Use HEATING AND LIGHTING EQUIPMENT (354)
Scavenging –when abandoned structures may have been scavenged for various useful items– Use ACQUISITION AND RELINQUISHMENT OF PROPERTY (425)
Storage pits –when they are found within houses or pit structures– Use BUILDING INTERIORS AND ARRANGEMENT (353)