The Heritage Southwest (HSW) database is a digital geodatabase containing information on more than 10,000 precontact (prehistoric) and historic archaeological sites in the U.S. Southwest and northern Mexico. The large HSW database is divided into a number of smaller sub-databases, each developed for specific research or preservation objectives, containing information on specific periods, areas, or types of sites.
The core of the HSW database is what we call the Coalescent Communities Database (CCD). The CCD consists of more than 4,500 previously recorded archaeological sites of greater than twelve rooms from the U.S. Southwest and the Mexican Northwest dating between A.D. 1200 and 1700 and covering and area of over one million square kilometers. These data were originally complied through a collaborative effort between Archaeology Southwest, the Museum of Northern Arizona, and Western Mapping.
Since 2005, Archaeology Southwest has maintained, updated, and improved this original database. In addition to the CCD, the HSW database also contains a large database of Paleoindian and Archaic period sites throughout the state of Arizona (an additional 4,500+ sites), architectural and occupation period information on all known Chacoan style great houses and great kivas (ca. A.D. 875–1250), as well as a detailed database of all previously recorded architectural sites (ca. A.D. 700–1450) in the Mimbres region of southwestern New Mexico (including the Mimbres River, Upper Gila, and Black Range areas), to name just a few of the resources included.
The latest major additions to the HSW database were accomplished through two multiyear collaborative grant from the National Science Foundation to the University of Arizona School of Anthropology and Archaeology Southwest. The Southwest Social Networks (SWSN) Project, as we call it, has added information to a large number of sites in the HSW dating between A.D. 1200–1500 west of the Continental Divide, including systematic tabulations of painted and plain ceramic types and wares and sourced obsidian objects from published sources, unpublished notes, and new analyses conducted by team members. In a second expansion of the database, the team has added detailed architectural information, systematic ceramic counts, and lithic material tabulations for sites with great houses or great kivas across the greater Chaco World. Altogether through these major projects and other database expansions, the SWSN database currently contains information on more than 7 million typed ceramics, over 11,000 chemically characterized obsidian objects, and over 150,000 additional lithic material identifications from more than 1,100 sites representing the results of over a century of archaeological research in the region.
The combined resources within the HSW database allow us to explore patterns of regional interaction and demographic change across the U.S. Southwest and Northern Mexico at scales not previously possible. Researchers may apply to use the HSW database here. Questions? Contact the Database Administrator here.