Archaeology

When white settlers arrived in the Camp Verde area to establish farms, they discovered the remains of ancient cultures. Spread generously across the valley floor, surrounding hills, and the occasional cliff face, were stone pueblos in various states of ruin. The sight of these buildings and associated artifacts amazed and perplexed the newcomers, and ultimately lured a number of military and government-funded scientists to the valley to try and solve the riddle of who had left such and indelible mark on the landscape.

Over the subsequent decades, archaeologists have worked to unravel the story of at least two different cultures. The Hohokam culture came first, presumably from the south, followed by the Sinagua, presumably from the north. By all indications the two cultures thrived here for about 1,200 to 1,500 years before disappearing around 1425 AD for reasons still not fully understood.

Three cultural sites–Montezuma Castle, Montezuma Well and Tuzigoot–are now National Monuments, protected and interpreted by the National Park Service.

Three other sites, the petroglyph walls at V Bar V Heritage Site and the cliff houses of Honanki and Wapatki, are protected and interpreted by the United States Forest Service. But hundreds of major and minor sites lay about the landscape, unprotected, across the vast majority in the Camp Verde area.

 

Please remember that these public archaeological treasures are protected by federal law. Do not remove artifacts or deface these sites in any way.

Verde Valley Archaeology Center

Right on main street, Camp Verde is lucky to have the Verde Valley Archaeology Center. Their mission is “to preserve archaeological sites and collections, to curate collections locally and to make them available for research and education; to develop partnerships with American Indians, cultural groups and the communities it serves; and to foster a deeper understanding of prehistory and American Indian history in the Verde Valley through the science of archaeology.” Visit their website for more information about their organization, how to become a member and find things to do in the area. 

National Monument Tours

There are several tour options to visit the National Monuments in the Verde Valley with the Verde Valley Archaeology Research Institute

Archaeological Conservancy Tours

Tours to two of the Archaeological sites in the Verde Valley and Sedona area with experienced guides rom Verde Valley Archaeology Research Institute.

Learn about Archaeology in the Verde Valley

The Verde Valley Archaeology Institute offers classes to memebrs of the Verde Valley Archaeology Center. 

Archaeology Sites in and near Camp Verde

Wingfield Mesa Ruin

Wingfield Mesa Ruin is located south of Clear creek behind the Verde Lakes Subdivision. It is a unique site in that it is laid out like a stockade, 200 feet...

Verde Salt Mine

The Verde Salt Mine played a key role in the life of the Verde Valley’s early inhabitants. It was formed by sediments from an inland freshwater lake that existed between...

V Bar V Heritage Site

The V-Bar-V petroglyph site is the largest known petroglyph site in the Verde Valley of central Arizona, and one of the best-preserved.

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Sacred Mountain

Not far from V Bar V Heritage Site are the fallen remains of a 50 to 60 room pueblo with a classic Hohokam-style ball court at its base, known as...

Palatki Heritage Site

Archaeologists believe that construction of the Palatki cliff dwellings began about A.D. 1125 and that they were used by the Sinagua until about A.D. 1300.

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Montezuma Well National Monument

Montezuma Well, a detached unit of Montezuma Castle National Monument, is a natural limestone sinkhole near Rimrock, Arizona through which some 1,400,000 US gallons of water flow each day through...

Montezuma Castle National Monument

Montezuma Castle National Monument features well-preserved cliff-dwellings. They were built and used by the Pre-Columbian Sinagua people, northern cousins of the Hohokam, around 700 AD. It was occupied from approximately...

Mindeleff Cavates

The array of caves across the Verde River from the Beasley Flat Day Use Area is known to archaeologists as the Mindeleff Cavate Lodge Group.

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Honanki Heritage Site

Honanki, which means “bear house,” is believed to have been one of the largest Sinagua communities in the Verde Valley.

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Clear Creek Ruins

Located on the south side of State Route 260, three miles east of the Verde River, Clear Creek Ruin is believed to have been the largest habitation site in the...