The Archaeology Wing provides dramatic displays that explore the complexities of the ancient cultures that inhabited the area from approximately the year zero to the present.
The acrylic case at the entry contains pottery, projectile points, stone tools and other artifacts from excavations at Spur Cross Ranch in the 1980’s, on loan from Arizona State University. The citizens of the Town of Cave Creek fought a massive development at Spur Cross Ranch and in 2000 voted to tax themselves to preserve the land. Besides being a beautiful area worth preserving, Spur Cross Ranch Conservation Area has a rich archaeological record, reflecting the value that people have placed on the land for millennia.
Let your eyes sweep across the Museum’s extraordinary collection of prehistoric pottery, tools and other items that offer clues to cultures that mastered desert living. Baskets, fragile in the desert climate, were both beautiful and functional. Exhibit items reflect art and cultures from ancient people throughout the Southwest. These artifacts inspire reflection on the lives of these desert dwellers. Learn how archaeologists have interpreted the lives of the ancients on the time-line panels.
Designs of prehistoric “homes” varied, based on the time frame, location and available materials. “Pit houses” were a common design in the desert flats. A depression of about 18 inches was dug and wall supports placed around it. Unlike modern Arizonans who rely on air conditioning, the Hohokam recognized that cooling could be found at depth. A model of a Hohokam pithouse is part of the east wall display as is a model of a Salado two story dwelling. A masonry Hohokam room, representing the Sears Kay Ruin has been reproduced on the south wall.
In the northwest corner of the room is the latest exhibit. The cabinets with shadow boxes above and drawers below contain smaller artifacts from our collections: small pots, projectile points, sandals, shell artifacts and other items. The majority of the items in these cabinets and in this wing are from two major donations.
The west wall features two living cultures, the Akimel O’Odham (Pima) and the Xalychidom Piipaash (Maricopa), who comprise the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community. The exhibit consists of an introductory panel, a time line, and sections devoted to traditional structures (including models), food processing & preparation, and clothing. The display was done in collaboration with the staff of the Huhugam Ki Museum located at the Salt River Indian Community who also loaned some of the items.
Five locally discovered archaeological sites reveal the abundance of archaeological material in the area. Four of these were excavated by members of the Desert Foothills Chapter of the Arizona Archaeological Society. Artifacts from an additional local site, the Blue Wash Ruin, are on loan from Pueblo Grande Museum and in an exhibit case on the west wall.