A major ancient human settlement — including pit houses, the likely remnants of an irrigation canal and human burials possibly dating back 4,000 years — has been discovered under the site of a planned outlet center along Interstate 10 in Marana.
Experts agree discovery is significant archaeologically — the settlement is likely from the Early Agricultural Period, which predates even the Hohokam culture that was in Southern and Central Arizona from 500 to about 1450 A.D. The find will add additional knowledge about agricultural practices that may be the oldest known in the United States, archaeologists say.
But it’s unclear if it will affect the outlet center’s progress. Its Indianapolis-based developer is already in competition with a Florida developer to build outlet centers on the northwest side.
So far, about 145 archaeological features, including six burials, have been found on the site, said a letter written last week by the State Historic Preservation Office. More investigation of the site, including some level of excavation, is almost certain.
How long that investigation will take is far from certain. While archaeological ruins don’t stop projects, they must be studied in detail.
A percentage of remains are typically excavated so they can be preserved for future study. Human burial remains typically are repatriated to the Tohono O’odham and other tribes, which has been done with those from this site.