City of Mesa, AZ

Volunteers in Archaeology: The Southwest Archaeology Team (SWAT)

The Southwest Archaeology Team (SWAT) is an organization of avocational and professional archaeologists dedicated to preserving archaeological and historic sites in Arizona. The main goals of the group include preservation, education and public involvement in archaeology. The group holds quarterly meetings at AzMNH with guest lecturers, but the major focus of the group is fieldwork and laboratory analysis, with members working in, and contributing to, the field of archaeology. The primary interaction between members occurs in the field on excavation and historic preservation projects.

SWAT has conducted archaeological excavations primarily at sites on private land just prior to construction projects that would destroy the site and the information it contains. Sites on private land often do not have the protection or funding available to projects falling under federal or state antiquity laws. The SWAT team has carried out excavations on many sites to recover archaeological data before the site was destroyed by construction. The Arizona Museum of Natural History curates the artifacts, notes and reports from the field research.

Membership in SWAT requires only an interest in the science of archaeology. New members work with experienced members who provide training in archaeological techniques. More formal courses in field techniques are periodically available through Mesa Community College but they are not required. Members also work in the archaeological laboratory at AzMNH where SWAT members are available to provide training in ceramic (prehistoric pottery) and lithic (stone tool) analysis.

rnie Rawlston using home-made and commercial surveying equipment to map the excavations at Mesa Grande.
 Ernie Rawlston using home-made and commercial surveying equipment to map the excavations at Mesa Grande.


Ben Mixon working on excavations at Mesa Grande.
 Ben Mixon working on excavations at Mesa Grande.


Jim Britton restoring a wall at Mesa Grande.
 Jim Britton restoring a wall at Mesa Grande.