To set the stage for the Fort Lowell Day Celebration on Saturday, February 9, 2013, two talks were scheduled to elicit excitement about the upcoming event.
The first talk was held on Sunday, January 27, 2013 at the historic San Pedro Chapel in the old Fort Lowell neighborhood. Mr. Homer Thiel is a contract archaeologist for a firm called Desert Archaeology, Inc. He has worked on such sites as the Presidio in downtown Tucson and the mission of San Agustin.
The physical location of the prehistoric site is on the west side of Craycroft Road, immediately across the street from the statue “The Trumpeter” at Fort Lowell Park. This area was not only part of the fort, but later still became a tuberculosis sanatorium. After the sanatorium closed, the site was purchased and run by the Adkins Steel Company and family.
As part of the soil remediation work conducted as the Fort Lowell-Adkins Steel property, the contractors monitored soil removal and excavated a sample of the archaeological features. Ten prehistoric pit structures were found and seven were excavated. They range in date from about A.D. 950 to A.D. 1300.
Artifacts were found on the floors. Mr. Thiel showed the artifacts via a powerpoint presentation. Evidence of the pit houses, the locations of the entry ways, where the hearth was located, even where the post holes stood, were evident. One house contained elements that were clearly used in pottery production including broken pieces of pottery. Tools used to grind pigments of black and rust were left behind giving archaeologists further evidence of pottery production at the site.
Some homes showed evidence of burning. It was not clear if the burning was deliberate or accidental. It was mentioned that in ancient Native American culture, when someone died in a home, it was burned.
According to the Neighborhood Association’s brochure, fort era findings included the alignment of Cottonwood Row, the edges of the parade ground, the bakery and a garden area north of the officers quarters. These finds provide new information that will be incorporated into the park design and future exhibits.
Mr. Thiel mentioned it costs approximately $20,000 to uncover each site. Grants fund the project as well as taxpayer dollars.
The findings were very exciting to archaeologists and historians as they give us an even bigger picture of those who lived here and helps tell their stories.
The next talk by Mike Anderson, “Baseball’s Earliest Days in Arizona”, will be held on Sunday, February 3, 2013 at 3 p.m. at the San Pedro Chapel. The street address for the chapel is 5230 E. Fort Lowell Drive in Tucson.