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Charlie Bell Canyon Petroglyphs and Archaeology Tour with Rick & Sandy Martynec
January 16, 2016 @ 6:30 am - 5:00 pm
Charlie Bell Canyon offers the easiest east-west passage through the rugged Growler
Mountains between the Growler and Daniels Valleys west of Ajo, Arizona. Today there is a
natural seep there known as Charlie Bell Well and, almost certainly, water was available in
the past, perhaps for millennia. In the 1990s our tour leaders Rick and Sandy Martynec mapped and rerecorded the archaeological features in the canyon for the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge.* Perhaps the most fascinating finding of the study is the more than 3,400 petroglyphs, 2,700 of which were discovered within 700 feet of the well. Based on weathering, subject matter, and the manner in which the petroglyphs were created, most of them are believed to date to the Archaic period, ca. 8000 BC-AD 500. Among the petroglyphs are thousands of grinding implements and ceramic, flaked stone, shell, and historical artifacts. Lithic artifacts include dozens of projectile points, many of them Archaic types. Patayan, Hohokam, and Trincheras ceramics are represented and the abundance of shell artifacts indicates that jewelry was produced in the canyon. Dozens of trails traverse the canyon eastward and westward, and foot traffic on several of them was so intense it wore nearly 20-inch-deep trenches into bedrock caliche. Boulders with petroglyphs and cupules, and numerous rock piles – possibly shrines – are alongside the trails, as are circular arrangements of rocks believed to be sleeping circles, other rock structures, and some huge, linear rock piles that were constructed perpendicular to trails, essentially blocking them.
Participants may meet the tour either in Tucson at 6:30 a.m. at the Pima Community College Community Campus, 401 N. Bonita Ave. or in Ajo at 9 a.m. at the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge office, 1611 N. 2nd Ave. Bring your own lunch and water. No collecting of artifacts or natural materials is allowed. Tour fee is $45 per person ($36 for Old Pueblo Archaeology Center and Pueblo Grande Museum Auxiliary members). Tour fees will help Old Pueblo Archaeology Center continue its archaeology and culture education programs.