​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​City Archaeology​​

Photograph of archaeological excavation in downtown Phoenix.The City of Phoenix has an Archaeology Section administered by the Parks and Recreation Department. This section is headquartered at S'edav Va'aki Museum. Archaeological ​functions of the City are managed by the City Archaeologist.  The City of Phoenix has had a City Archaeologist since 1929, the first in the nation. Currently, only a small number of other cities have staff archaeologists (e.g., Alexandria, Virginia; Saint Augustine, Florida; and New York City, New York).

The primary role of the City Archaeology Office is to assure that the City is in compliance with all federal, state, and local laws and regulations regarding the identification and proper treatment of historic and cultural districts, properties, objects, and other archaeological resources.  The intent of these regulations is to (1) identify and study properties of historic, cultural or scientific value prior to destruction, (2) preserve sites of unique scientific, historic or cultural value, (3) identify human remains and preserve them in situ or move them for reburial according to state law (ARS 41-844 and 41-865).

The City Archaeologist also works with S'edav Va'aki Museum​ staff to offer a wide variety of interesting and educational activities throughout the year. Programs offered by the museum fit within its mission to provide educational experiences that enhance people's understanding of the Hohokam culture, other peoples of the Greater Southwest, past and present, and the science of archaeology. To view various programs please go to our Events​ page.​

What Does a City Archeologist Do?

​A City Archaeologist is responsible for a lot of things in our city. They assess all development projects that are city-sponsored or on city land for the potential impact to archaeological sites and coordinate the development of treatment plans if impacts are identified. They manage all city-sponsored archaeological projects that involve federal agencies (e.g., HUD, FHA, and FAA) and state agencies (e.g., Arizona State Land Department) and coordinate these with the State Historic Preservation Office and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation. They conduct research on City of Phoenix history and prehistory for public exhibits and publications and provide public lectures and tours on Phoenix archaeology.

Archaeological Sites within the City of Phoenix

aerial - mound and museum.jpg

There are hundreds of prehistoric and historic archaeology sites within the City of Phoenix. They are located in the downtown area, along desert rivers and washes, and in the foothills and canyons of the mountain preserves. Archaeological sites are found under parking lots, city streets, and playing fields in city parks; they also are associated with historic buildings. Common archaeological sites include: prehistoric Hohokam culture villages, canals, and rock art (AD 1-1450), historic Pima [O'odham] (1540-1950), historic territorial Phoenix (1870-1912), other historical archaeological sites,and traditional cultural properties (shrines, mountain tops, etc).