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Aaron Wright – A Renewed Study of a Patayan Walk-In Well on the Ranegras Plain in Far-Western Arizona

July 15 @ 7:30 pm - 9:00 pm

The Patayan cultural tradition is one of the least understood archaeological constructs in the Greater Southwest. While recognized nearly 90 years ago as a distinct assemblage of material culture traits centered on the lower Colorado River, research has always been hampered by poor chronological control. Few Patayan archaeological sites have been excavated, and of those even fewer have yielded contexts amenable to absolute dating (i.e., radiocarbon, archaeomagnetic). A dearth of stratified contexts compounds the problem.

Archaeologists have long heralded a site near Bouse, Arizona as a possible panacea for this “Patayan problem.” First described by the Gila Pueblo Foundation in 1928 as the westernmost Hohokam site on account of a conspicuous “hollow mound” (i.e., a ballcourt), a test excavation in 1952 by Michael and June Harner exposed this feature as an eight-meter deep walk-in well containing a variety of artifacts, namely thousands of sherds of Lower Colorado Buffware. Based on intrusive Hohokam ceramics, Michael Harner reported the well as infilled with stratified deposits. Unfortunately, an excavation report was never prepared and the collections have consequently been “orphaned.” Moreover, the actual location of this site was lost to the archaeological community.

In 2015, I began a renewed study of the Patayan walk-in well near Bouse, including its relocation and a thorough site documentation, a re-creation of the Harners’s excavation, analysis of the more than 6,000 artifacts recovered from the site, and the acquisition of radiocarbon dates from the well’s purported stratified deposits. I report the results of these endeavors in this presentation.


July 15
7:30 pm - 9:00 pm
Event Category:


Pamela Pelletier


DuVal Auditorium, Banner-University Medical Center
1501 N Campbell Ave
Tucson, AZ United States
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