Eleven archeological sites, occupied during the time period A.D. 500-1100, were located within the boundaries of White Tank Mountain Regional Park. All of these sites can be attributed to the Hohokam Indians. The White Tanks were apparently abandoned by the Hohokam about A.D. 1100. There is no further indication of human occupation until the historic period, when the
Western Yavapai controlled the area.
Ruggedness of terrain and scarcity of water restricted the sites to large canyons leading out of the mountains. In these
canyons, the sites include seven villages, varying from 1 to 75 acres in area,
a rock shelter in the face of a steep cliff overlooking the white tanks, and
several sherd areas. Several of the villages appear to have been occupied for
long periods by sizeable populations, while the sherd areas may represent
temporary camps of hunters and gatherers.
Most of the sites in the area are concentrated around
the White Tanks themselves. The Tanks probably held water the year-round and
thereby drew people to the region. Petroglyphs on rocks indicate the Indians
were more than transients. Pottery sherds along the Agua Fria and Hassayampa
signify the presence of villages and a good possibility that an Indian trail
connected the streams with the White Tank long before Europeans came into the
area. The discovery of possible agricultural terraces or check dams indicates
that farming may have been carried on in the various canyons of the White Tank
Mountains, by utilizing seasonal runoff and rain water.
About the Petroglyphs
Ancient Arizonans pecked hundreds of figures and
symbols on the rock faces of the White Tank Mountains. Some may approach 10,000
years old. All have withstood sun, rain, and vandals for 700 or 800 years or
The Black Rock Trail circles through a Hohokam
village site, though the pit houses and trash mounds are hidden to all but the
trained eye of an archeologist. The largest group of rock-art panels is along
the Waterfall Canyon Trail at "Petroglyph Plaza". Another big group is near the
entrance to the box canyon that gives the trail its name.
A rock drawing was serious business to its maker.
While no one can say precisely what most of them "mean", we know they had
important functions in the lives of their makers. They were not simply
stone-age graffiti. The symbols recorded events and marked locations. They were
a magical way to control nature so rain would fall or mountain sheep would let
themselves be caught. Some served as trail markers and maps. Others represented
Please do not try to make "tombstone rubbings" of the
petroglyphs. It doesn’t work at all and you will erode the dark areas, making
the petroglyph dimmer. Look at and photograph these figures and symbols of
history, but please don’t touch the petroglyphs, skin oils can also damage