by Fred Veil, Executive Director, Sharlot Hall Museum

Step back in time to a period from 300 AD to 1300 AD here in the Central Highlands of Arizona to a way of life predating the Anglo-European influence on native cultures, and discover the “Prescott Culture.”

From the Hohokam influence to the mystery of the Hilltop Sites and from a reproduction pithouse to the presentation of Coalescence of cultures, the new exhibit at Sharlot Hall Museum will surprise and amaze you.

From the artifacts of an ancient culture to the elaborate and intricate exchange network of the varied peoples of ancient Arizona and from the influence of the Hohokam to the traditions of the “ancient ones” of the Yavapai, this permanent addition to the museum will enthrall you with its presentation, interactive atmosphere and immersive technology.

The four-phase exhibit draws you through the pottery and artifacts of the time and down into the ancient living structure (a representative pithouse) featuring the classic urn of the native culture.

Along the way, interactive exhibit drawers showcase the luxuries and intricacies of desert life in the Central Highlands of the time. At the far end, share a beguiling moment with a native trader with baubles and hand-hewn regalia ready for barter.

Enter into the nearby rotunda with its panoramic setting to discover the legend and lore of the Hilltop Sites. Exhibit panels and a multimedia presentation try to shed light on the people who inhabited the area from 1100 to 1250 AD and suddenly disappeared.

The scattered remnants of their existence are exemplified in the sites themselves — the stone walls and structural remains of forts, or defensive retreats…or houses for habitation…or labrythine lookouts…or observation posts.

Only they know the purpose for these masonry marvels — walls of stone, hand set and laboriously placed along the many hilltops, buttes and ridges throughout the Central Highlands — only to be abandoned. Their legacy remains the evidence and innate curiosity of these sites. A short video produced by the museum tries to explain their impact and the possible uses for these varied sites.

The exhibit completes the PreHistory wing of the Lawler Exhibit Center at Sharlot Hall Museum, and the artifacts, pottery sherds and hand-made beads and utility tools are available for inspection with admission.

Daily admission to the Museum is $9 for adults and free for museum members and youth 13 and under. The museum is located at 415 West Gurley Street, two blocks west of the downtown Courthouse Plaza.