William Self Associates, Inc. conducted archaeological excavations at a number of sites in 2011 as part of the Southern Parkway project. The Southern Parkway, or State Route 7, is being constructed by the Federal Highway Administration and the Utah Department of Transportation; it is a 26-mile, four-lane divided highway from the Atkinville Interchange in St. George to State Route 9 in Hurricane, and will serve as the principal public transportation corridor to the new St. George airport. Seventeen archaeological sites located within the construction corridor are considered eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places.
The Southern Parkway route lies in a cultural transition zone that contains prehistoric occupations associated with the Great Basin, the northern Southwest, and the farthest extent of the Mojave Desert. Most of the sites along the Southern Parkway represent prehistoric occupation by the Virgin Anasazi. The Anasazi (also known as Ancestral Puebloan because their descendants can be found today in the pueblos of northern Arizona and New Mexico) were prehistoric agriculturalists who occupied much of the plateau country in the northern Southwest, including southern Utah.
WSA’s excavations resulted in the documentation of more than 50 cultural features, including multiple pit houses (Figure 1) and numerous storage features. The Southern Parkway sites represent occupations that date from approximately 5000 B.C. to A.D. 1800 and are affiliated with Archaic, Virgin Anasazi, and Southern Paiute groups.
Thousands of artifacts were recovered, including over 34,000 ceramic sherds, more than 27,000 pieces of flaked stone (Figure 2), and over 300 pieces of ground stone. Radiocarbon, macrobotanical, and pollen samples were also collected.
WSA archaeologists are currently analyzing the artifacts and samples and preparing a final report that will describe how the prehistoric people lived in this interesting environment. Parkway construction and archaeological monitoring began in the spring of 2013.