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Field Division of Education
Tuzigoot - The Excavation and Repair of a Ruin on the Verde River near Clarkdale, Arizona
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1. The cultural material which came to light in the excavation of Tuzigoot is not the manifestation of a single unified body of people who lived for a short time only at this site in the Upper Verde Valley. It is the product of a varying population who made and utilized these things at the site during a period of several centuries. Cultural changes which took place there between about 1000 and 1350 A.D. are partially represented in the artifacts and other remains. The chronological aspects of the material must therefore be considered in any analysis of it.

2. The open pueblo consisting of contiguous rooms of masonry construction was in use at the site during the whole period of occupation of which we have architectural record. The pueblo was characterized at first by small rooms, similar to those found in the more northerly parts of the Pueblo area, but as time went on the size of rooms on the average increased greatly, corresponding in this with the size of rooms in villages to the west of the Upper Verde.

The pueblo followed a plan, common to other villages in the vicinity, of rooms built about a small open courtyard. The topography of the site, however, interfered with a very satisfactory carrying out of this plan. (It seems probable that the patio idea was late in origin in the Upper Verde Valley and that Tuzigoot was already a fairly extensive pueblo before the idea was acted on there.)

There was only exceptional and sporadic advance in masonry construction from the beginning to the abandonment of the pueblo. The building principles of tying corners, breaking joints, and shaping building stone were never mastered. Side entrances to rooms were very infrequently used, but enjoyed a somewhat greater popularity about the middle period of occupation than they did just before the abandonment of the pueblo.

Circular ceremonial rooms of any kind were not in use, but it is probable that a rectangular room with raised platform at one end and with other as yet uncertain features was used for ceremonials or for general gatherings.

3. Decorated pottery indicated the influence of ceramic styles and techniques already studied to the north and west. A somewhat similar complex of decorated pottery to that which obtained in the region of the San Francisco Mountains prevailed at Tuzigoot from the earliest period of its occupation up until the general time of the making of Kayenta, or negative design, Black-on-white in the north. It is important to note, however, that at Tuzigoot the corrugated wares so common to the immediate north were almost entirely lacking. Whether or not the Black-on-white, Black-on-red, and Polychrome wares similar to those of the San Francisco Mountains region were locally made remains an open question. Their use at Tuzigoot was combined with that of Prescott Black-on-grey, which was the predominant type of decorated pottery in west central Arizona until some time in the thirteenth century when Pueblo culture was apparently eliminated from the latter region.

The final phase of decorated ceramics at Tuzigoot was characterized by the extensive importation of pottery from the northeast, mainly Jeddito Black-on-yellow.

The unquestionable local developments in pottery were mainly concerned with plain wares. Tuzigoot Red was the important type and in the late phases of the pueblo almost completely superceded all other types. Vessel forms were limited to globular and shouldered ollas and a variety of bowl forms. Smudged ware was never very popular, but was fairly common during the middle phases of the pueblo's existence.

4. Stone implement making was well-developed and links the people of Tuzigoot with the south or Hohokam region rather than with the north. Very fine chipped work in obsidian and excellent three-quarter groove axes with long blades were characteristic. Troughed metates also indicate affinities with the south rather than the north.

5. West central Arizona, or Prescott Black-on-grey, affinities crop up in the clay figurines of humans and animals. The pinched nose human is quite characteristic of the Prescott region, as are the carelessly formed animals and birds.

6. The burial customs of extended inhumation, pole-covered graves, and face painting with blue and green paint were practiced in west central Arizona, the San Francisco Mountain region, and the Tonto Basin. They distinctly mark the people of Tuzigoot off from the northern Pueblo people who practiced flexure and from the southerners who practiced cremation.

It is not possible to designate an independent Upper Verde culture. Tuzigoot was obviously a pueblo where cultural influences from various regions were at work.

One definite element that went into the civilization at Tuzigoot was that aspect of Pueblo culture which developed in west central Arizona, the so-called Prescott Black-on-grey culture. The traits of the latter culture which were manifest at Tuzigoot have been mentioned above. Its is however, obvious that this western influences did not dominate the pueblo at any tine, although it was a persistent element throughout the history of the pueblo.

It seems incredible that people could have been living together in the same village and making pottery or decorated types as divergent as Prescott Black-on-grey and Flagstaff Black-on-white. It is less credible, because of its crudeness, that the former pottery should have been traded into the pueblo from the west. It must have been that Prescott Black-on-grey was locally made during the time when such excellent wares as Flagstaff and Walnut Black-on-white were common in the village. It would seem therefore that the better wares were not locally made, but were imported. If they had been made by people living at the pueblo, it would be natural to suppose that their manufacture would have influenced such local products as Prescott Black-on-grey, Tuzigoot White-On-red, and Verde Red-on-buff for the better. But the latter wares remained, throughout the history of the pueblo, unimproved and of a very low order of craftmanship.

That the better decorated wares found at Tuzigoot were intrusive seems to be further borne out by the fact that at all times the main concern of the potters was with undecorated red ware. It is the plain red ware that we can consider as the basic ceramic expression of the people of the Upper Verde. In this they are linked with the people of the middle and lower Verde and with the people of the Agua Fria drainage to the southwest. It is here that we have something in ceramics that is truly native.

It may be fruitful to speculate a little about the rise end fall of civilization in the Upper Verde region. It has been pointed out that small pithouse communities were early widespread in the region. The pithouses were not of the vestibule or ventilator type, such as were in use in the San Francisco Mountains region, but were almost identical in outline with the Hohokam pithouses of the Roosevelt and more southern regions. Perhaps therefore the earliest culture was allied with the Hohokam, but was already strongly influenced, through trade, by the people of the immediate north. The red-on-buff pottery complex was clearly not strong, although red-on-buff pottery of a kind was made.

The culture which subsequently developed in the Upper Verde region partook of southern and northern features, as well as western. It was apparently a focus of three main culture streams or complexes, no one attaining dominance, but all existing together side by side rather than fusing into a single homogeneous and distinctive complex.

About the end of the thirteenth century population began to increase tremendously in the fertile valley lands of the Upper Verde. It has been suggested that the drought which the plateau country to the north was experiencing in the last quarter of the thirteenth century drove many people down off the plateau into the better watered Verde Valley. This is a plausible reason for the obvious increase in population at Tuzigoot during the last years of the pueblo's existence.

But shortly after the valley pueblos of the Upper Verde experienced their augmentation of population they were abandoned. At the very height of their expansion, with apparently no long drawn out decadence or no violent and sudden catastrophe, they were abandoned. The causes for this remain to be discovered. Light will no doubt be shed on the matter through a study of death rates, if it becomes possible to make such studies, at Upper Verde Valley pueblos. There seems to be a slight indication that infant mortality at Tuzigoot was exceptionally high during the very latest phases of the pueblo. It may have been that a death rate increasing suddenly for some reason made the people of the Upper Verde no longer able to withstand the raiding of the Yavapi and possibly the Apache, who probably had been harassing them during a considerable part of their later history. Perhaps the remnants of the population that had once spread and prospered over the valley was forced to band together and retire from the region -- possibly, as Dr. Fewkes thought a quarter of a century ago, to the northeast, where for some years had been made the principal decorated pottery which the Upper Verde people had been using.



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