The Mills Collection


This world-class collection is on display as a self-guided tour in the College’s Student Services Building, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. Admission is free.

Mills Collection
Mills Collection

History of the Mills Collection

Ardent avocational archaeologists Jack and Vera Mills conducted extensive excavations on archaeological sites in Southeastern Arizona and Western New Mexico from the 1940s through the 1970s. They restored numerous pottery vessels and amassed more than 600 whole and restored pots, as well as over 5,000 other artifacts. Most of their work was carried out on private land in southeastern Arizona and western New Mexico. Towards the end of their archaeological careers, Jack and Vera Mills wished to have their collection kept intact and exhibited in a local facility. After extensive negotiations, the Eastern Arizona College Foundation acquired the collection, agreeing to place it on public display. Showcasing the Mills Collection was a weighty consideration when the new Student Services building at Eastern Arizona College was being planned. In fact, the building, and particularly the atrium area of the lobby, was designed with the Collection in mind. The public is invited to view the display. Admission is free and is open for self-guided tours during regular business hours, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.


Safford Basin Archaeology

The Safford Basin extends from today’s town of San Carlos on the west to the Gila Box area east of the town of Solomon. Some archaeologists have divided the Safford Basin into two districts: San Carlos to the west and Pueblo Viejo to the east. The dividing line occurs at the town of Bylas, near Fort Thomas. Archaeological research indicates that the San Carlos district exhibits more cultural influences from the Hohokam who were concentrated in the Phoenix and Tucson Basins from A.D. 650 to A.D. 1450. The Pueblo Viejo district exhibits more cultural influences from the Mogollon who inhabited much of east-central Arizona and west-central New Mexico, concentrated around the Mogollon Rim. The two maps on this page, provided by the Bureau of Land Management, will aid in establishing geographic understanding of the general archaeological area and the Safford Basin. The prehistory of the Safford Basin remains sparsely documented despite evidence that the area has been inhabited, at least intermittently, since Paleoindian times, prior to 8000 B.C. The archaeological record from the Safford Basin exhibits a great deal of variation, indicating the ancient inhabitants of this region were also quite diverse. This diversity indicates that the Safford Basin was a sort of “melting pot” where people from several different prehistoric cultures, many of whom migrated into the area in late prehistoric times, lived together. Specifically, material remains indicate people from the culture areas known traditionally as Anasazi, Hohokam, Mogollon, and Salado lived in the Safford Basin. Newer research has demonstrated that these traditional labels do not adequately begin to characterize the heterogeneity exhibited in the archaeological record of the Safford Basin area. Therefore, archaeologists now use descriptive terms such as Ancestral Puebloan or regional terms such as Mimbres Valley area to describe the origins of the ancient inhabitants of the Safford Basin and the distinctive material remains they leave in the archaeological record.