Suzanne K. Fish, PhD

Curator Emerita, Arizona State Museum

Professor Emerita, School of Anthropology

With UA degrees in Anthropology (MA) and an interdisciplinary PhD in Arid Lands Resource Sciences, I have combined these disciplinary backgrounds in research, teaching, and outreach. My primary focus is Hohokam archaeology of southern Arizona and the ethnobotany and agricultural traditions of the Sonoran Desert before and after Spanish contact. Special interests are regional settlement patterns, the organization of non-state archaeological societies, archaeological palynology, the structure of prehispanic productive landscapes, and Hohokam cultivation of agave. Publications reflect investigations in the U.S. Southwest and Southeast, central and northwest Mexico, coastal Brazil, and Jordan. Courses taught include ethnobotany, archaeology of the southern Southwest, traditional agriculture of the Southwest, and archaeological field schools. Disciplinary service has been on Boards of the Society for American Archaeology and Society of Ethnobiology, as Editor of Latin American Antiquity, and on the Executive Committee of the Arid Lands Resource Sciences Interdisciplinary PhD Program.

Paul Fish and I have studied Hohokam agricultural remains on Tumamoc’s western bajada since 1984. Fields there consist of “rockpiles,” along with low terrace alignments that captured runoff and acted as mulches for cultivated agave plants. Harvested agave hearts were roasted in interspersed pits in the ground. Our experimental plantings in the rockpile field features revealed successful species, length of time to harvests, and the need for culling of clonal offsets that shared agave root systems. A wide variety of audiences have visited the fields on guided tours. A demonstration garden of agaves in reconstructed rockpiles is located near Tumamoc’s historic buildings. Tumamoc participants are now planning for a new round of planting experiments that further replicate, demonstrate, and refine understanding of ingenious Hohokam agricultural practices on the driest of basin slopes.