El Macayo is one of the few prehistoric village sites in the upper Santa Cruz River valley of Arizona that has been systematically excavated. Located near the present-day town of Nogales, El Macayo was occupied over a period of six centuries between A.D. 550 and 1150.
During the excavation, 175 features, including pit structures, human burials, pits, and an unusual macaw burial, were uncovered. Analysis of the architectural, ceramic, lithic, shell, floral, faunal, and mortuary data indicated that the inhabitants were foragers and farmers who had access to material goods produced in the Salt-Gila and Tucson Basins and in the Trincheras region of Sonora. After A.D. 950, they were producers of a local pottery tradition that shows strong ties to the Santa Cruz series traditions of the Tucson Basin. Yet the inhabitants were culturally distinct from the Hohokam and Trincheras cultural traditions. Agriculture seemed to be less important here than elsewhere in the southern Southwest, and the preference for inhumation burial suggests a significant departure from contemporaneous burial customs to the north.
William L. Deaver is Project Director and Carla R. Van West is Principal Investigator at Statistical Research, Inc. The two have worked on various projects together, including studies published in Vanishing River: Landscapes and Lives of the Lower Verde Valley.
Receive the latest UBC Press news, including events, catalogues, and announcements.Subscribe to our newsletter now
Read past newsletters