The Verde Valley Archaeology Center (VVAC) has acquired 15.28 acres of the Simonton Ranch in Camp Verde that contains at least eight undisturbed ancient pit houses estimated to date from about A.D. 650. The property has been appraised at $1.37 million. Mr. Scott Simonton of Gilbert, Arizona, donated $1.12 million toward this acquisition. Referring to his donation, Mr. Simonton said “It is exciting to see Camp Verde’s history preserved and those who live in the Verde Valley today learn about and appreciate those who once lived there.”
Mr. Simonton had the parcel investigated by private archaeological contract firms that documented the archaeological features as part of preconstruction plans These investigations targeted those features most likely to be impacted by development activities, coupled with those that were the most significant. During the time period of this area, pit house villages became common and increased in size. Agricultural features such as terraces and check dams also became increasingly prevalent. There is evidence for formal community organization and village structure, often smaller sites containing three or more pit houses clustered around a single larger site containing eight or more pit houses. The arrangement of the pit houses on this property is suggestive of a village.
Archaeologists refer to the people who lived in this area as the Southern Sinagua and those who lived on the east and south sides of the San Francisco Peaks as the Northern Sinagua. The Southern Sinagua occupied the Sedona/Verde Valley region for centuries and made ceramics somewhat similar to those of the Northern Sinagua. As a whole, the Sinagua are considered a Puebloan group ancestral to the modern Hopi people of northeastern Arizona. This property has ancestral connections claimed by the Hopi Tribe, the Yavapai-Apache Nation, the Prescott Yavapai Tribe and the Havasupai Tribe. The Archaeology Center will consult with all of these tribes as the property is developed.
While the new museum and curation facility is the largest phase of the plan, it is only one of many major projects to complete the campus.
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