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The Hohokam Dig   By: (1901-1969)

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From where had these attacking Indians come? Out of a long forgotten and dim past? Had their medicine man seen the one supreme vision?

the hohokam dig

by ... Theodore Pratt

At first they thought the attack was a joke. And then they realized the truth!

At first the two scientists thought the Indian attack on them was a joke perpetrated by some of their friends. After all, modern Indians did not attack white men any more.

Except that these did.

George Arthbut and Sidney Hunt were both out of New York, on the staff of the Natural History Museum. George was an ethnologist who specialized in what could be reconstructed about the prehistoric Indians of North America, with emphasis on those of the Southwest. He was a tall, lean, gracious bald man in his early sixties.

Sidney was an archeologist who was fascinated by the ruins of the same kind of ancient Indians. Medium sized, with black hair that belied his sixty five years, he and George made an excellent team, being the leaders in their field.

They had come west on a particular bit of business this spring, trying to solve the largest question that remained about the old cliff dwellers and the prehistoric desert Indians, both of whom had deserted their villages and gone elsewhere for reasons that remained a mystery.

One theory was that drought had driven them both away. Another theory ran to the effect that enemies wiped them out or made off with them as captives. Still another supposition, at least for the Hohokam desert people, the builders of Casa Grande whose impressive ruins still stood near Coolidge, had to do with their land giving out so they could no longer grow crops, forcing them to go elsewhere to find better soil.

No one really knew. It was all pure guesswork.

The two scientists meant to spend the entire summer trying to solve this riddle for all time, concentrating on it to the exclusion of everything else. They drove west in a station wagon stuffed with equipment and tracking a U Haul It packed with more.

George drove, on a road that was only two sand tracks across the wild empty desert between Casa Grande Monument and Tonto National Monument where cliff dwellers had lived. It was here, not far ahead, in new ruins that were being excavated, that they hoped to solve the secret of the exodus of the prehistoric Indians. The place was known as the Hohokam Dig.

They topped a rise of ground and came to the site of the dig. Here the sand tracks ended right in the middle of long trenches dug out to reveal thick adobe walls. In the partially bared ruins the outline of a small village could be seen; the detailed excavation would be done this summer by workmen who would arrive from Phoenix and Tucson.

George stopped their caravan and the two men got out, stretching their legs. They looked about, both more interested in the dig, now they were back at it, than setting up camp. They walked around, examining various parts of it, and the excitement of the promise of things to be discovered in the earth came to them. "This summer we'll learn the answer," Sidney predicted.

With skeptical hope George replied, "Maybe."

It was early afternoon when they set up camp, getting out their tent from the U Haul It. They took out most of their gear, even setting up a portable TV set run on batteries brought along. They worked efficiently and rapidly, having done this many times before and having their equipment well organized from long experience. By the middle of the afternoon all was ready and they rested, sitting on folding chairs at a small table just outside the opening of their tent.

Looking around at the dig Sidney remarked, "Wouldn't it be easy if we could talk to some of the people who once lived here?"

"There's a few questions I'd like to ask them," said George. "I certainly wish we had some to talk with."

He had no more than uttered this casual wish than there sounded, from all sides of where they sat, screeching whoops... Continue reading book >>

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