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History unearthed at future outlet mall site

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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

The Town of Marana took one step forward today, toward the groundbreaking of a project that is expected to bring dozens of high end outlet stores into the area.

Ryan Mahoney, the Planning Director for the town of Marana said residents could expect to see the groundbreaking for the Tucson Premium Outlets taking place in early August.

As they look toward the future though, right now, the focus is on history.  You'll see a big fence surrounding much of the property, which located off Interstate 10 and Twin Peaks Road.  The fence has banners saying Paleowest Archaeology on it.

Developers hired the archaeologists, and now historians are saying what they've un-earthed is a major ancient human settlement dating back to even before the 1400's, when the Hohokam Indians were settled on the land.

Some historians called in an early agricultural settlement.  Developers said, it was not surprising.  Similar settlements and artifacts had been uncovered in projects along the banks of the Santa Cruz River.

"This stuff is all over the place out here.  There has been archaeology done all up and down Interstate 10, along the interchange, and we're finding much of the same thing," said David Scholl with Vintage Partners, a group that was developing part of the land.

Town officials said, they had found similar artifacts a few miles away at the Cross Roads Park at Silverbell and Cortaro.

At the park, you'll see fenced in areas surrounding what appear to be ancient ruins, and a pit house.  A sign states they date back to the 1600's.

According to a letter from the State historic preservation office about 145 artifacts had been recovered at the outlet mall site.  This included pit houses, the remains of a canal, human burials, pieces of pottery, and tools.

Residents in Marana said they thought that was neat.

"I think it's awesome, right here in our backyard too", said Eric Trevino, a Marana resident.

Scholl said the excavation would not delay the ground-breaking for the project, as they had built in time for that.

The Tucson Premium Outlets are expected to very similar to the outlets at Wild Horse Pass in Chandler.  The same company is involved in this project as well.

Marana town officials said the outlets would bring hundreds of jobs into the area, as well as a lot of money in sales tax revenues.

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