Archaeology


Archaeology at Cochise College

People have inhabited our region for at least 14,000 years, beginning with hunters who hunted mammoths and other large game mammals along rivers and streams. After the extinction of the megafauna about 10,000 years ago, people continued to hunt and gather wild plants.

Trade from Mesoamerica brought farming, ceramics and other goods and ideas into the region at least 2,000 years ago. As people adopted agriculture, they settled into small villages along the foothills of the Huachuca, Dragoon, Chiricahua and Peloncillo Mountains, where they built houses of adobe and stone.

The first Europeans to visit the area, Spanish conquistadors in the army of Francisco Vasquez de Coronado described villages along the San Pedro and in the Sulphur Springs Valley. Missionaries like Father Eusubio Kino worked in villages of people known as the Sobaipuri.

Not long before the arrival of the Spaniards, Athapaskan speaking tribes of raiders and traders we know as the Chiricahua Apache moved into the area. The clash between the Spaniards and Apache drove other native peoples westward. Until their final surrender in 1886, this was their homeland. Our college and county are named for their most famous chief Cochise. His son Naiche and war leader Geronimo led the Chiricahua in their final struggle.

Evidence of the prehistoric peoples of Cochise County was the focus of the archaeological excavations by Cochise College students from 1964 to 1983. The artifacts excavated by the classes and other donated by local residents make up the collections displayed here.

The Prehistoric Peoples of Cochise County

For at least the last 14,000 years, people have lived in the region we call Cochise County. First hunters and gathers followed big game here, then settled in the foothills of the Huachuaca, Dragoon, Chiricahua and other mountains to farm around their small villages. Later, raiding and trading bands of Chiricahua Apaches occupied the mountains and valleys until their removal by the US Military in 1886.

This pottery collection was recently donated to Cochise College by the Cowan family. The college held a field school on their ranch in the 1980s. The family collected these ceramic pieces from their ranch near Cloverdale, New Mexico. The style is related to the Casas Grandes culture of northern Chihuahua and dates from 1100 to 1450 A.D. You can see some of the original pieces on display in the Sierra Vista Campus library.

Paleo peoples

Illustrator: Larry Scott

Paleo peoples

Illustrator: Larry Scott

Paleo peoples

Illustrator: Larry Scott

Paleo peoples

Illustrator: Larry Scott

Anthropology Instructors

Orozco, Rebecca
Sierra Vista and Douglas Campuses
(520) 515-3697 | orozcor@cochise.edu

Murin, Michelle
Virtual Campus
murinm@cochise.edu

Sutro, Livingston
Sierra Vista and Douglas Campuses
sutrol@cochise.edu

Big enough to explore

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