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New Finds Explode Old Views of the American Southwest

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Science  30 Jan 1998:
Vol. 279, Issue 5351, pp. 653-654
DOI: 10.1126/science.279.5351.653

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Mark Muro TUCSON, ARIZONA-- In 1993, an archaeologist performing a routine road survey near downtown here found unexpected prehistoric cultural materials predating what was thought to be the region's first sedentary culture, the Hohokam. Then in early 1994, further digging revealed scores of pit structures pocking more than a square hectare of flood plain--a sizable village from a supposedly nomadic era. Now, these discoveries are forcing archaeologists to rewrite the book on the origins of village life in the American Southwest. In addition to the largest southwestern settlement of the era, the finds include pottery, beads, a communal-ceremonial structure, early evidence of maize farming, and the first signs of tobacco use in North America, all dating to between 760 B.C. and 200 B.C. The implication is that a sophisticated village culture developed here nearly 1000 years earlier than archaeologists had thought.