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Photos of Artifacts from Tonto National Forest

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Archaeology Artifacts from Tonto National Forest Arizona —

The work on the archaeology survey project in the Tonto Forest of Arizona has carried on into its fifth week. This travelogue entry will show what we have been looking for out in the mountains.

My job is to ponder — or, more accurately, to find — these artifacts and cultural features.

An artifact is an object that was created, manipulated, or affected by prehistoric or historic human culture. They mostly consist of tools, jewelry, art, pottery etc . . .

A feature shows some sort of non-portable prehistoric human activity. Examples are post holes, rock rings, burials, middens, grinding slicks, hearths, fire pits etc . . .

Pottery Sherd

Pottery Sherd

This photo is an example of the ceramic sherds we have been finding with regularity in the Tonto.

Sandstone grinding slicks

Sandstone grinding slicks

Grinding slicks and matates were used as tools for grinding down corn, juniper berries, nuts, and other forms of food that the prehistoric peoples of the region would prepare. The raw food would be placed upon a slab of sandstone or basalt and then grown down by hand or with a wooden or stone plunger. It would take only a couple of hours to grind the stone down like the ones are in the above photo.

Rose Gate Projectile Point

Rose Gate Projectile Point

This is a Rose Gate projectile point which served as a transitioning point between atlatl darts and arrow heads. What is an atlatl?

Projectile Point

Projectile Point

A projectile point found somewhere in the Tonto Forest.

Polyhedral core

Polyhedral core

This is a polyhedral core, which served as a sort of prehistoric Swiss Army Knife. These cores, which were chunks of chert, dacite, argolyte, or another tool making stone, would be carried around, and when a tool was needed, all someone had to do was knock a flake off of it and knap it into the desired tool. Like this, one core could provide many different tools.

Dacite drill

Dacite drill

This is a dacite drill. The archaeology typography of “drill” is actually a blanket term to describe a variety of artifacts that were used to poke holes or otherwise gorge something.

Armijo projectile point

Armijo projectile point

Armijo projectile point made from dacite.

Gypsim projectile point

Gypsim projectile point

Gypsim projectile point also manufactured from dacite.

Rock ring feature

Rock ring feature

Rock ring feature. These rocks were once the foundation for a structure that looked something like the below reconstruction.

Prehistoric structure recreation

Prehistoric structure recreation

Reconstruction of a prehistoric living structure in Arizona.

How to become an archaeologist

Vagabond Journey series on archaeology fieldwork
[seriesposts orderby=date name=”archaeology field work” ]

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Filed under: Archaeology, Arizona, USA

About the Author:

Wade Shepard is the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. He has been traveling the world since 1999, through 76 countries. He is the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China, and contributes to Forbes, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3053 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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