A Mystery of the Desert

By Ruth Lundquist, Second Place Winner, 2012 Summer Fun Write Stuff Contest

Artifacts found at site

A poster distributed at an open house at the Pinnacle Peak Village site featured artifacts that had been found. (Courtesy Les Conklin)

February 1977 was the start of our second year in Arizona. It was also a time with heavy rain storms unlike any we have ever seen. Running washes flowing down the mountains covered all of our streets. The wall surrounding our subdivision had open places for the rush of water to flow through preventing the force of the water from destroying the wall.

One morning the skies began to clear and the sun once again filled our world and made the desert shine. Our mail box was out on Pima Road. I started out to pick up our mail and, as I walked on the side of the road about half way to the entrance of our subdivision, I saw something lying on the ground. I stopped to take a closer look and picked up a rounded piece of pottery. Obviously it had been it had been washed in by the rush of water that came down the mountains and then through the wall.

On my way back I walked the opposite side of the road and discovered another piece in the same wash. I picked it and found that they fit together. And it now looked like a primitive head of some sort of sculpture. There was a part missing but no other shards along the road.

There were no other houses east or north of us for miles so whatever it was it had to have been carried from across the desert to the east and probably from the mountains. The surface was very rough as if shaped by hand.

In downtown Phoenix, the original home of the Heard family had been converted into a public museum. We showed the receptionist what we had found and asked if we could talk to a curator. She took our treasure inside and asked us to wait. After a few minutes she returned to say there was no one available but she did not think it was anything of historical value.

We returned home believing that the woman we’d spoken had no idea of the location where I had found the object. Few residence of Phoenix or Scottsdale even knew there was anyone living in our unincorporated area north of Scottsdale.

I placed the two pieces together but did not glue them and placed them on a flat rock as a base. It stands today on the shelf of my bookcase in our Den and once in awhile I take it down to show someone and tell the story of how it was found.

Years later my son found some decorated pottery shards just northeast of our home in Los Gatos when he was transplanting native trees that were to be relocated in an area now called “Troon*. As more and more artifacts were discovered the entire area was roped off so archeologists could remove historical evidence before the developer continued with his project. After the archeologists had completed their findings the public was invited to view the excavations before the building of Troon began.

Could the pieces been a part of this ancient encampment? Petroglyph, etchings on rocks, are still being found all around the area. We may never know for certain but it makes an interesting story to tell when people ask about that strange object on display in our home.

We like to remember when we lived way out in the desert and Pima Road South ended at our subdivision wall. When there was nothing but natural desert to the south all the way east to the mountains, and northeast as far as the eye could see at that time. And,when the desert brought us a mysterious gift from the past.

Editor’s Note (2012). The source of the pottery found by the author was likely Pinnacle Peak Village, a prehistoric Hohokam village partially excavated by archeologists and 60 volunteers in early 1988, prior to the development of Troon Village. Approximately 3,400 residents and visitors (including the editor) attended a two-and-a-half-day open house held at the site in March 1988. Many artifacts, including tools, pottery, and human remains, were found. A limited archeological study was conducted at the site in 1963 by an ASU graduate student. The book, “Pinnacle Peak – Images of America,” available at Amazon and other major booksellers, provides additional information about the site.


 Related Articles

Excavating Pinnacle Peak Village, Part 1
Excavating Pinnacle Peak Village, Part 2

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Author: The Peak

Published on behalf of the Greater Pinnacle Peak Association by the editorial staff.

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