The University of Arizona

Current Archaeological Projects at ASM

Rock Art Ranch Field School

The University of Arizona School of Anthropology and Arizona State Museum has completed its fourth year of fieldwork at Rock Art Ranch.

2014 Rock Art Ranch Field School students and staff.

The field school, led by Dr. E. Charles (Chuck) Adams, is open to undergraduate and graduate students at all skill levels. During the five-week field program, participants learn archaeological survey, excavation, and lab techniques. For survey, participants learn site identification, location and mapping using GPS; artifact identification, collection and processing; soil and plant identification; and artifact analysis and sourcing. For excavation, participants learn mapping using the total station, feature identification, the principles of stratigraphy and their application to the archaeological record, seriation techniques, artifact identification and typology, and basic laboratory procedures.

In the lab, students have the opportunity to complete preliminary analyses of artifacts recovered from the field. Students use these skills to complete research projects for their final grades.

In 2013 Dr. Adams received a National Science Foundation grant (1262184)Opens in a new window ( to establish a Research Enrichment for Undergraduates (REU) field camp at Rock Art Ranch.

From 2014–16, 10 students will be chosen from applications to participate in this program. In addition to the field program described above, students will return to ASM for two weeks for workshops on bioarchaeology, zooarchaeology, and conservation science.
Download the Application Form (PDF*)

Rock Art Ranch Field School Findings
2014 Field Season Update
More About the Rock Art Ranch Field SchoolOpens in a new window on the School of Anthropology website.

Homol'ovi Research Program

This program has been active since 1984-85, under the direction of Dr. E. Charles (Chuck) Adams. Research is focused on several ancestral Hopi pueblos (villages) near Winslow in northeastern Arizona. The research studies the processes of aggregation in late prehistory (that is, the formation of large communities) and contributes to the interpretive programs at the Homol’ovi State Park.

After 15 years of concentrating on ancestral Hopi villages in the park, the Homol’ovi Research Program shifted its focus to Chevelon Ruin, a village contemporary with the other villages and located farther upstream. Chevelon pueblo is the third largest of the Homol’ovi settlement cluster villages—with around 500 rooms (see Map 1). Similar to Homol’ovi I, it seems to have been occupied from about AD 1280 to 1380. ASM archaeologists Adams and Rich Lange worked at the site from 2002-2006, supported by grants from the National Science Foundation and from Earthwatch.

Chevelon excavationChevelon is especially intriguing because of its location upstream from the other villages, its location beside a spring-fed stream, and, in contrast to the other Homol’ovi villages, a higher percentage of pottery types from an area 100 km to the southeast. Work over the many field seasons focused on the origins, layout, and history of the site and on the nature of its interaction with the other villages. Preliminary work done in the summer of 2002 discovered an unusual layout of the village (a semi-circular roomblock arrangement of the highest part of the site—see Map 2), established the basic framework of the grid system, and noted a large number of areas throughout the pueblo with intense burning.

Analysis of Structural Burning: 2005 Earthwatch SCAP web exhibitOpens in a new window
Computer Applications in Archaeology: 1997 Earthwatch SCAP web exhibit


Borderlands Archaeology Program

Excavations at Marana MoundThis program incorporates a number of projects lead by Paul Fish and Suzanne Fish involving interdisciplinary research on the prehispanic culture of southern Arizona and adjacent northwest Mexico. Core themes are: 1) Land use and landscape as the interface between societies and their environments, and 2) societal institutions for the organization of population and territory. The program includes archaeological survey and excavation in the Tucson basin area. These studies have been ongoing since 1980 and continue today with the excavation of a village site with a platform mound near Marana, Arizona. Also a part of the program are studies of "trincheras", unusual terraced sites on hills, in southern Arizona and Sonora, Mexico. The trincheras studies, as well as several other projects in the program involve bi-national collaboration between Arizona State Museum and Mexican research organizations.

These projects provide many opportunities for research and training in archaeological field methods for both graduate and undergraduate students.

Trincheras web exhibition: English / Español


Sierra Ancha pueblo

Sierra Ancha Cliff Dwelling Project

Since 1981, Richard C. Lange has been conducting research in the rugged Sierra Ancha in east-central Arizona. Numerous cliff dwellings occur in the canyons, mostly dating to the late AD 1200s and early AD 1300s. The cliff dwellings were first formally described by Emil W. Haury in 1934, and contributed significantly to studies extending the range of tree-ring dating below the Mogollon Rim. Research has involved detailed mapping of the structures, recording of architectural details, and recovery of complete sets of tree-ring samples. Fieldwork has largely been completed, so no volunteers are being sought at this time. A final report (Echoes in the Canyons: The Archaeology of the Southeastern Sierra Ancha, Central Arizona, Arizona State Museum Archaeological Series 198) was published by the University of Arizona Press, but is currently out of print. Read more


On the Trail of Coronado

This ASM project is focused on discovering segments of the trail used by the expeditionary force of Francisco Vásquez de Coronado. Between the years 1540 and 1542 the Spanish Army, accompanied by civilians and Indian allies, set out from Culiacán, Mexico, in search of Cibola (the Seven Cities of Gold). The expedition followed portions of established Indian trade trails to traverse the vast region of northwest Mexico and what was to become the southwestern United States. At least eleven documented trips were made over all or portions of the trail between Cibola and Culiacan during the mid-sixteenth century. Along it went Coronado's couriers and scouts and small parties returning to Culiacan with ill and discouraged treasure seekers. Undocumented trips over this trail were probably numerous. Those segments of trail that might exist in Sonora, Mexico and in the United States, particularly in the vicinity of southeastern Arizona or southwestern New Mexico are of interest to this study.

Lost Spanish Trails

The goal of this project is to document the trail made by the expedition of Don José de Zúñiga, captain of the presidio of Tupson (Tucson), in his attempt to find a trade route to Santa Fe. This was the last Spanish expedition beginning in what is now Arizona. Research is based on the journal that Zúñiga wrote during his journey. Learn more about the expedition with text following the route, interactive maps, photos and 3-D models of Spanish Colonial artifacts in our Lost Spanish Trails web exhibit.

If you have information pertinent to either the Coronado trail or the Zúñiga trail, or if you would simply like to learn more about these studies, please contact John Madsen, who heads both these research projects.

Image Credits:
2014 Rock Art Ranch Field School: Chuck Adams
Excavations at Homol'ovi: Richard C. Lange
Excavations at Marana Mound: Paul Fish
Sierra Ancha Pueblo: Gary R. Hinman

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