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Arizona State University students uncover centuries-old artifacts

A late archaic Arrowhead is passed around after being found by volunteers in Perry Mesa, Ariz. (Photo: Courtesy of Arizona State University)

PHOENIX — Students at Arizona State University’s School of Human Evolution and Social Change uncovered artifacts from a group of people who lived in Arizona more than 700 years ago.

A view of masonry, which would have been home to approximately 75-100 people. (Photo: ASU)

A view of masonry, which would have been home to approximately 75-100 people. (Photo: ASU)

The five-year partnership between the university and Tonto National Forest, centered nearly 80 miles north of Phoenix in Perry Mesa, aims to identify the nearly 2,000 people who migrated to the area in the 1280s.

“One of the things that we’re interested in knowing is where these people came from,” said Arizona State University Associate Professor David Abbott, who helped lead the most recent expedition in December.

Four university students helped uncover artifacts such as pottery fragments and stone tools. Abbott said those artifacts could help researchers find out more about the people of Perry Mesa and where they originated.

A volunteer holds three pieces of yellow ware found in Perry Mesa (Photo: ASU)

A volunteer holds three pieces of yellow ware found in Perry Mesa (Photo: ASU)

“If there are connections between populations, including those in Perry Mesa and people off the mesa who were present in the 1200s, that might give us an indication of where the migrants came from in the 1280s,” he said.

Abbott said if you look at the present day setup of Perry Mesa, it is hard to imagine people actually lived there because there is no permanent water source.

“People living on top of Perry Mesa would have had to descend a thousand feet down to streambeds below,” he said, adding that they would have to do that on a daily basis.

The people of Perry Mesa left the area in the mid-1300s. The reasons for the end of their occupation in that area are unknown.

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