THE TAYLOR SITE -- AZ BB:11:90, ASM
THE MATERIAL ON THIS PAGE IS COPYRIGHTED AND SHOULD BE APPROPRIATELY CITED (C) 2007-2008, Deni Seymour
The site consists of four Sobaipuri loci, each with a series of houses visible on the
surface. Like all of the other 60-plus Sobaipuri sites I have mapped, the structures on
this site are paired. The original recorders did not note this characteristic, plotting only
a subset of the houses in any one of the three loci they recorded. More careful
inspection reveals double the number of structures recorded during the initial effort.
Some of these were flagged by the original recorders but not mapped while others
were not noticed. This may be because the original recorder was seeing house
groupings like have been recorded for the Hohokam and therefore only recorded
those features that fit the expected pattern.
Other Sobaipuri feature types were not recorded either, and there are plenty of them.
This is a multiple component site with a huge prehistoric occupation underlying it,
including an extensive series of agricultural features; this clearly confuses the issue.
But there are some non-house features that can be associated with the Sobaipuri
component, based in part on what we now know about Sobaipuri site structure and
the use of space from dozens of other sites.
Locus 4 has been mostly disturbed and so Sobaipuri material is situated around the
peremeter of the disturbance but is gone where the bulk of the features would have been.
Like at other sites, some of the houses
are fully exposed, showing the full
rock-lined outline and even the
An extramural feature can be seen in the
foreground of the image to the left. This
feature is associated with this specific
structure and helps define the extramural
work area. Without excavation and more
thorough inspection it is not possible to
discern the nature of this feature but it is
likely one of the burned rock dumps or
small thermal features found consistently
associated with household groupings at
This site also exhibits evidence of intramural features. It used to be thought that Sobaipuri houses were free-standing simple
surface constructions with no inside features, save for a small burned area and associated trivets. Excavations at San Cayetano
del Tumacacori revealed partition walls for the first time, as well as other characteristics such as superimposed structures. While
these kinds of features were unheard of at the time, they are actually quite widespread. They have since been seen at other sites,
such as here at the Taylor Site. It is likely that previously such features were removed, being seen as part of the fill or displaced
rocks. As obvious as these types of features now are, they were not so obvious in the past, because being so near the surface,
many of the rocks have been displaced from walls through erosion and cattle trampling.
Several structures at the Taylor Site seem to
have a platform at one end, as shown in this
image and as indicated by clusters, potentially
rows, of rocks at one end.
This image shows the south end of a structure
with a partition wall sectioning the house.
Other boulders have either been knocked out
of place or they represent intramural features
of some type.
These are projectile points from the site (and one piece of debitage). The nearby Turan Wash contains a widely known
chert source of this color and also bright yellow that was exploited by the Sobaipuri and other groups. It is possible that
the Taylor Site is positioned where it is so that its occupants could easily access and possibly control access by others to
this source. The Sobaipuri to the south tended to exploit grey and white chert for many more of their formal tools and
projectile points, while these Sobaipuri to the north focused on this higher quality and more visually pleasing source. Even
the Canutillo complex mobile groups exploited this source for their bifaces as shown in the accompanying image.
These house characteristics suggest that the site was used for a long period of time. Within the larger site sample,
those sizable sites that were important and show evidence of centuries of use tend to exhibit modifications to the
interior space. This suggests that duration and intensity of occupation results in the formalization of household
space--something that is discussed in several of my published papers. The Sobaipuri formalized their household
space by adding partition walls, platforms, and routinizing the space around the outside of the pair of houses in a
highly predictable way. In these same sites we see that many houses are superimposed upon one another,
suggesting that space within the social arrangement was at a premium. Such space likely had some social value and
there may have been a conceptualization of private property that was retained and modified through time. The
sometimes odd orientations of the houses relative to one another, the robbing of rocks from some houses as
indicated by partial house outlines, and variations in the pottery also suggest considerable time depth for this site.
The Taylor Site is said by some to be San Salvador del Baicatcan, a site visited by Father Eusebio Kino in the 1690s and early 1700s. One problem
with this speculative statement is that the advocates of this position have not yet eliminated other viable candidates. While an extensive survey of
this portion of the river was conducted, amateur volunteer members of those teams told me afterward that they would not have recognized a
Sobaipuri site had they encountered one. Moreover, I was asked afterward to verify if some of the sites they found were Sobaipuri, indicating that
even the archaeologists involved were insufficiently familiar with the Sobaipuri signature to consider this survey coverage adequate.
While the Taylor Site is clearly a Sobaipuri site, insufficient work has been conducted to ascertain whether or not it is Baicatcan or one of the
other historically referenced (or earlier) sites. There are an established set of methodological procedures to follow prior to making inferences
about the identification of historically referenced groups and these procedures were not followed here. The difference between speculation and
inference building relates to the systematic nature of research and the use of sound method and theory. Lack of understanding of this difference
and the methodologies and rules of evidence used by archaeologists is one reason why Native American Studies researchers, ethnographers, and
ethnohistorians often do not comprehend the difference when applied to the Colonial period archaeological record. This allows them to claim
associations that are not founded or blithely question inferences that are well founded.
The map below shows a series of Sobaipuri sites in this area, and this is only during the missionary period. There was seemingly 300 years of
Sobaipuri occupation in the region before this so assigning this specific site and all four of its loci to the Kino-period is a bit of a stretch at this
time, especially when a series of luminescence dates could be run on the various loci to ascertain if one or more of its loci date to the correct
period. So far, a pair of dates places it in the post-Kino era, perhaps overlapping with Kino, perhaps not. This is perhaps only one date for a site
that was occupied for a long period of time.
One reason to be wary is that while the Taylor Site is
on the east side of the river, the earliest missionary
period map known (1695-1696) and Kino's 1701 map
show "San Salvador" on the west side of the river
(indicated by the hollow circle, although the name is
on the east side). Thus, the question is not where the
"site is" but where the "sites are." Several other map
versions show it on the west side as well, but one
early map (1696-1697) shows it on the east side,
where the Taylor Site is positioned. A 1701 map
shows it on the west side again.
IS THIS SAN SALVADOR DEL BAICATCAN?
This site is privately owned but the new owners have protected the site from future development with a BLM-administered