The Marana Community is a social and territorial unit of Classic period Hohokam settlement in the 7bcson Basin of southern Arizona during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries (A.D. 1150-1350). Prehistorically, this multisite entity drew its essence from the social relationships, settlements, and land use of a dynamic population of desert cultivators. Our ability to recognize and understand the Marana Community today derives in large part from marks on a map. The following pages trace our pathways to reconstructing production and society in this former time and place and present our findings to date. As a more general goal, we hope this study will serve as an argument for the potential of a survey methodology not yet fully realized in Southwestern archaeology.

The evolution, structure, and productive basis of the Marana Community became a focus of inquiry in the context of a larger project known as the Northern Tucson Basin Survey. The inadequacy of existing frameworks for interpreting Hohokam archaeology in the Tucson Basin and other Hohokam regions outside a core area" surrounding Phoenix, Arizona became apparent following a small scale excavation in the future study area. In 1981 at the inception of the survey, even minimally comprehensive settlement patterns were lacking. Information pertaining to the kinds, frequencies, and distributions of sites for any time horizon or significant areal segment had not been obtained. Acquisition of such data in the northern Tucson Basin became the goal of an extended Arizona State Museum survey project directed by the volume editors.

To accomplish our objectives, we chose a survey strategy termed 100 percent, total, or full-coverage. Full-coverage survey involves the systematic examination of large contiguous blocks of terrain at a uniform level of intensity (Fish and Kowalewski 1990: 2). The value of this approach for regional and relational problems had been amply demonstrated in Mesoamerica (for example, Sanders and others 1979; Blanton and others 1981) and the Near East (Adams 1965, 1981; Wright 1979), but it had seldom been attempted in the Southwest. The major advantages of full-coverage survey for our research objectives were: (1) the recovery of spatial relationships among remains of all sizes, representing ephemeral activities as well as habitation; (2) the ability to evaluate settlement pattern against a full range of environmental variation; and (3) the ability to define territorial units of interrelated sites that included relatively low densities and dispersed distributions. Coverage of the study area at a spacing of 30 meters between surveyors was the eventual compromise between our desire to recover the greatest amount of detail and still achieve a pattern of regional scale (R Fish and others 1991). In hindsight, we had no good idea of study area size or extent of regional data that would be required to define meaningful units of territory and society.

Aside from the obvious logistical advantage of proximity to a home base at the University of Arizona, a variety of considerations governed our decision to select the Tucson Basin for intensive study. This area had been recognized as a distinctive region within the Hohokam cultural tradition for some time. In the period of early Spanish contact, it appears that the Tucson Basin was the major aboriginal population center of southern Arizona. A fortunately low level of modern land use in the northern Basin meant that the desired regional scope could be achieved in conjunction with well-preserved surface remains.

Because rapid growth is under way north of the Tucson urban limit, this survey was a last opportunity to recover many aspects of archaeological settlement. In recognition of this fact, the Arizona State Historic Preservation Office provided initial support to the Arizona State Museum for the Northern Tucson Basin Survey. A basin segment of 260 square kilometers (100 square miles) was targeted in 1981. Spatial configurations of a large Classic period community near the modern town of Marana were beginning to emerge from this survey by 1984. The Bureau of Reclamation, the Arizona State Land Department, and the Museum cooperated at that time to continue the survey program northward in order to provide a regional context for excavations required by construction of the Central Arizona Project canal in the Tucson vicinity.

Results from the initial survey east of Marana were instrumental in refining our concept of the nature of Classic period communities near Tucson and in adjacent desert basins. A central site containing an earthen platform mound was surrounded by settlements of varying size and function in diverse environmental zones. This concept structured ensuing survey design, for which the goal became acquisition of full-coverage data characterizing three such communities (see Fig. 1.8). Full-coverage survey blocks were centered on the mound sites in each community and totaled 470 square kilometers (180 square miles). The three blocks were then connected by survey transects in a study area covering 1800 square kilometers (700 square miles). Access, funding, and results from ancillary excavations were most advantageous for the Marana Community and it received a proportionally large share of project effort.

Investigations in the Marana Community are unique in several ways. Full-coverage survey of more than 350 square kilometers (125 square miles) encompasses the entire community as well as substantial areas surrounding it. Although excavated information was limited to testing at one large site (Lange and Deaver 1989) when the survey began, the study area has since witnessed investigations both within and adjacent to the community. In addition to research reported in this volume, there have been a number of large and small excavations by various investigators (Bernard-Shaw 1988, 1989, 1990a; Czaplicki and Ravesloot 1988; Downum 1986; Henderson 1987a; G. Rice 1987a; Wallace 1983) and studies of agricultural strategy (S. Fish, P Fish, and Madsen 1985, 1989; S. Fish, R Fish, Miksicek, and Madsen 1985; S. Fish, P Fish, and Downum 1984; Waters and Field 1986; S. Fish and Donaldson 1991).

These elements of project history provided the foundation for an interpretive emphasis on Marana Community organization and its economic basis. Prior interests of the principal investigators and their collaborators, combined with National Science Foundation support, led to particular analytical attention to agricultural production. Early survey efforts revealed impressive arrays of types of agricultural remains that had not previously received systematic attention. Furthermore, many of these agricultural features could be linked to the cultivation of agave. This intriguing evidence of large-scale production led us to continue focusing on agricultural strategies used by the Hohokam residents of the Marana Community.

We have drawn heavily upon aspects of settlement pattern, including systematic artifact collections, in our interpretation of community organization. The unequal availability of excavated data entails major reliance even now on surface distributions for recognizing attributes of organizational structure. The following chapters outline some of the most comprehensive data in the Hohokam tradition for architectural and settlement hierarchies and for the variable distribution of population and subsistence production across a zonally differentiated landscape. Our results make it clear that convincing interpretations of these phenomena require broad-scale patterns of the type obtained for the Marana Community.

The major contributions of our research to date in the northern Tucson Basin can be summarized under three themes: (1) the evolutionary background and structure of Classic period Hohokam settlement in a region outside the Phoenix Basin (Chapters 1, 2, 3, 9); (2) the nature of differentiated productive patterns within a Classic community in response to environmental and settlement diversity (Chapters 4, 5, 6); and (3) recognition of the magnitude of agave cultivation and its economic role (Chapters 7, 8).

Although we attempted an ideal sequence of research stages from general to specific, this monograph reflects more than ten years of evolving project history. Varying levels of scope and detail are outcomes of the episodes by which our broader understanding progressed. We often had to delay ongoing efforts in order to resolve critical issues in interwoven themes. Availability of collaborators and funding tempered the degree to which individual topics could be explored. Thus, the following chapters embody the fits and starts of real life research, as will be recognized by those who have experienced the vicissitudes of long-term commitment to a regional study.


Marana Community research has benefitted from the support of numerous institutions and individuals. It is a pleasant task to recall our benefactors, coworkers, and advisors over the course of ten years. Early funding came from the Arizona State Historic Preservation Office (SP 8104). In their capacities as successive directors, James Ayres, Donna Shober, and Shereen Lerner aided us in obtaining grants for survey (SP 8315 and 9314) and later for the preparation of nominations to the National Register of Historic Places (SP 10735). An award from the National Science Foundation (BNS-8408141) permitted focused study of agricultural production. Gene Rogge was instrumental in initiating survey funding from the Bureau of Reclamation in order to provide a regional context for archaeological investigation occasioned by construction of the Central Arizona Project aqueduct. His successors as Bureau archaeologists, Tom Lincoln and Kathy Pedrick, have further facilitated project backing through the framework of a cooperative agreement with the Arizona State Land Department and the Arizona State Museum of The University of Arizona (Grant4-CS-30-01380). Information, interest, and administrative oversight was generously supplied by Robert Larkin of the Arizona State Land Department.

Support and encouragement from the staff of the Arizona State Museum and its director, Raymond H. Thompson, have been central to the success of all investigative stages. Logistical arrangements, facilities, equipment, and professional expertise represent a significant level of research investment beyond that acquired from external sources. The Department of Anthropology provided teaching assistants and partial transportation costs for archaeological field methods classes that participated in survey and excavation over many semesters.

It is impossible to acknowledge or even to name all of the individuals who contributed to our present state of knowledge concerning the Marana Community. This volume is the product of the efforts of several hundred student employees, students in classes, members of the Arizona Archaeological and Historical Society, the Arizona Archaeological Society, and other volunteers and colleagues from multiple disciplines. However, the following persons deserve special recognition.

Among the many members of survey teams, we would like to single out the long-term survivors, who furnished ideas as well as energy: Chris Downum, Jim Bayman, Rich Lange, John Field, Barb Roth, Jim Skibo, and Jim Lombard. The organization of laboratory work was overseen by Carri VerPlank, Kim Beckwith, and Regina Chapin. Ceramic analyses were ably performed by Stephanie Whittlesey and Kim Beckwith. Jim Vint aided in analysis of lithic artifacts. Masa Tani and Regina Chapin assembled and organized endless survey data.

Our understanding of the northern Tucson Basin environment was enhanced by geomorphological studies undertaken by the late Keith Katzer, John Field, Jim Lombard, and Janette Schuster. Karen Reichhardt mapped and classified study area vegetation. Matts Myhrman and Gerald Matlock evaluated and quantified hydrological factors. Delores Lewis, a Tohono O'odham farmer, and Adalberto Cruz, a farmer from Cucurpe, Sonora, provided invaluable insights into traditional cultivators' perspectives on the Marana landscape. Gary Nabhan of the Phoenix Botanical Garden/Native Seed Search helped arrange the visits of these two agricultural experts and added his own experienced observations.

Information and resources for experimental agave plantings were gratefully received from Robert McDaniel of the Department of Plant Sciences at The University of Arizona. Jeff Parsons of the Museum of Anthropology at the University of Michigan shared data on Otomi Indian planting, processing, and use of agave in the state of Hidalgo, Mexico. Relevant ethnographic practices throughout northern Mexico and southern Arizona were related by Gary Nabhan from his extensive travels and studies. Charlie Miksicek was an indispensable partner in all aspects of our investigation of agave's role in Marana Community agricultural production. He also examined countless liters of ash from roasting pits to document this cultigen.

Numerous colleagues improved our methodology and interpretation through encouragement, advice, criticism, skepticism, intuition, and discussion. We express our particular appreciation to Emil Haury, Paul Martin, Vance Haynes, Charlie Miksicek, Jeff Parsons, Michael Schiffer, Norman Yoffee, Gary Nabhan, Dave Doyel, Dave Wilcox, Chris Downum, Stephanie Whittlesey, Henry Wallace, Jim Holmlund, Bill Doelle, Glen Rice, Kathy Henderson, Mary Bernard, Bill Doolittle, Vorsila Bohrer, Jeff Reid, Keith Kintigh, Ken Kvamme, Curtiss Brennan, and Jim Bayman. Linda Cordell and Paul Minnis read earlier versions of this manuscript and offered many valuable suggestions.

This volume owes its present form to the wisdom, persistence, and skill of Carol Gifford, who guided us through all stages of editing and production. Rose Slavin reproduced several versions of each chapter and helped us remain sufficiently organized to reach completion. We thank Axel E. Nielsen for his translation of the abstract into Spanish. Ron Beckwith's talents are apparent in all drafted figures. Photography by Helga Teiwes, graces a number of pages, as indicated. Other credited photographs are by Charlie Miksicek, Wendy Hodgson, Marcus Fish, and Cooper Aerial Photo, Inc. Authors of respective chapters provided the remaining illustrations.

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