ALDER WASH RUIN -- AZ BB:6:9 (ASM)
Alder Wash Ruin is a multi-component site with a Sobaipuri component. It is situated on the lower San Pedro north of Redington. It was excavated
as Highway Salvage work in 1970 and 1971 and a draft report (Masse 1980) was prepared that has never been produced (it is available in ASM
archives). Road construction was said to have removed the entire site but recent inspection of the area indicates that most of the site remains
At the time of this work, only two other Sobaipuri sites were known: Di Peso's site now referred to as Santa Cruz del Pitaitutgam (then said to be
Gaybanipitea; AZ EE:8:15) on the upper San Pedro and Doyel's site England Ranch Ruin (AZ DD:8:129) on the upper Santa Cruz River. Since then, in
these areas combined, I have found close to three dozen Sobaipuri sites and a few others are known that have been identified by other
researchers. This revises the picture substantially, especially with respect to the overall knowledge base about what constitutes the fundamental
characteristics of Sobaipuri sites. Specifically, at all sites (except at Alder Wash were this has not yet been confirmed) structures are laid out in
consistent and formal patterns. Even at sites like the Taylor Site where previous mappers have not registered this pattern, additional work has
shown consistency with this layout. For this reason this type of layout is expected at Alder Wash Ruin as well -- there is no reason to believe this
one site would be different than all the other known Sobaipuri sites.
This is seemingly Feature 18, a Sobaipuri structure
located in Area 4. Disturbance is widespread so only
part of the structure remains. Disturbance includes
bulldozing away from the centerline related to road
construction and also subsequent excavation of
New, previously unrecorded features are also present at the fringe of an adjacent site. These Sobaipuri and non-Sobaipuri late features have
survived disturbance because they are so peripheral. This small rock circle has a late plainware sherd tucked between cobbles. Adjacent to
the feature are sherds of the local variety of Whetstone plain. Collection of these would allow chronometric dating of the site using
luminescence dating techniques, procedures not used at the time the site was originally investigated. It is probable that the Whetstone plain
would date the Sobaipuri occupation and the sherd associated with this small rock ring would date to a later mobile group occupation,
post-dating Sobaipuri use of the site.
Protohistoric plainware sherd directly associated with the
feature, found on a cobble forming the interior feature
Feature 19 is one of the more distinctive features that
was originally plotted. It is a small rock ring that likely
represents and post-Sobaipuri occupation of the site by
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Whetstone Plain, Alder Wash variety
Late (protohistoric) plainware with lichen growth
Despite an incredible amount of disturbance, erosion, andon-going pot hunting some of the Sobaipuri features can be identified. There are so
many prehistoric features on the site that it is difficult with to distinguish those related to the Sobaipuri from those made earlier, especially
given the disturbances to the site. Still definitive samples of Whetstone Plain were located near definable features.
It is interesting, however, that most of the Sobaipuri features that were excavated are at the fringe of previously excavated block excavations
or in areas where block excavations were not undertaken. This means that there remains a high likelihood that additional structures remain
preserved beyond the bounds of these block excavation areas. They are especially likely to be visible in areas where underlying features were
not excavated because these excavations would necessarily have removed the upper features.
As at Pitaitutgam, the expected pattern of aligned paired structures can be used to identify new structures that remain buried. Only a few
structures on any site are visible on the surface. Those that have been exposed as a result of uneven erosion of the site surface are often
clearly visible as elongated or curvilinear alignments on the surface. Yet, excavations have shown that it is common for many more structures
to be present than are visible on the surface. At Pitaitutgam, this knowledge was used to discern the likely location of additional unnoticed and
unexcavated houses that were then identified and exposed through excavation. This approach would likely prove fruitful at Alder Wash Ruin.
It is possible that Features 5 and 7 are paired as a household set. This is suggested by their close proximity and also by their differing
character. In general, the two structures forming household pairs are functionally differentiated and usually one is of a different shape than the
other, as is the case with these two features.
Possible paired structures (5 and 7) in Excavation Area 1 are underlined in red. Their
spacing from one another is about right for paired structures on other sites and they
are of different sizes, which is also a common characteristic of paired household
Site plan of Alder Wash Ruin. Red lines underline Sobaipuri structures showing their general placement at
the fringe of the site and in areas where other such structues might be preserved nearby.
The small rock rings that likely represent the foundations of mobile group huts are consistent with some of the artifacts documented from
the site. In addition to the prehistoric and Sobaipuri occupations some of the stone tools and projectile points suggest a mobile
presence. The artifacts shown below were documented in the Arizona State Museum collections.