Archaeology Projects

Archaeology Projects

Archaeological Dig at Desperation Ranch, Portal, Arizona

The Friends of Cave Creek Canyon, in partnership with the Arizona Archaeological and Historical Society (AAHS, Tucson), the University of Arizona, Argonaut Archaeological Fund, and archaeologists from the Coronado National Forest, sponsored an archaeological excavation, led by Drs. Jesse Ballenger and Jonathan Mabry.

The goal of the four-weekend excavation, which ran from September 2014 to March 2015 on the late Kim Murphy property in Portal, was to reopen Ted Sayles and Ernst Antevs 1936 dig in order to redate it using radiocarbon dating which was not available then. Though poorly understood, this site was used as the type site for the Chiricahua stage of the Cochise culture in the American Southwest.

 A report that includes the project description and first results can be found here.

Updates are also available in these FOCCC Newsletters:

FOCCC Newsletter 11-30-14 

FOCCC Newsletter 10-17-15  


Cave Creek Canyon Cave Survey

Over five weeks in the summer of 2018, Friends of Cave Creek Canyon (FOCCC), with US Forest Service approval, sponsored an archaeological survey of caves in South Fork to understand the historical relationships over time to our canyon and vicinity through the lens of human use. Kelsey Hanson (University of Arizona) and Jonathan Patt (Portal, Arizona) obtained GPS coordinates for the surveyed caves in addition to sketch maps, photographs, and narrative descriptions. Twelve of the caves contained either archaeological features (such as hearths) or artifacts (such as chipped stone). Their findings suggest that the caves were used throughout history for specific reasons. Explanations for these reasons are pending the results of more detailed analyses but may be related to a combination of factors such as elevation, bedrock stability, or access to resources.

The survey was guided by notes and photographs produced by Kimrod Murphy, a local retired Arizona Game and Fish Warden, and existing documentation from US Forest Service archeological surveys. An anonymous donation of $5000 helped to support this project, and we are seeking donations to continue it.