The ancestral Sonoran Desert people created beautiful shell jewelry including necklaces, bracelets, rings, earrings and pendants. Some of the shells were inlaid with turquoise and others had beautiful designs. To create raised designs on the shells, they used a technique called etching. They would paint a pattern on the shell with sap from a tree (the sap is very sticky and doesn’t dissolve in water.) After the sap was dry, they would submerge the entire shell in fermented cactus juice. The cactus juice is slightly acidic and the acid in the juice would eat away the unpainted portion of the shell. After it had been in the juice long enough, they would remove it, scrape off the sap and it would leave a raised design.
Items the ancestral Sonoran Desert people created have been found hundreds of miles from their homeland. They didn’t have wagons or horses, so in order to move their stuff from one place to another they had carry it on foot. It is over 350 miles to the Pacific Ocean from Casa Grande Ruins National Monument. Can you imagine how long it would take and how tired you would be if you had to walk all that way and back again?
Last updated: May 19, 2019