Long ago, lime kilns were built along North Silverbell Road to melt limestone being excavated from the Tucson Mountains.
Drive north on Silverbell Road and you still can spot the remnants of one kiln on the west side of the road just north of West Sunset Road.
Built out of adobe bricks and surrounded by mounds of earth, the cone-shaped lime kiln resembles a brick pizza oven of sorts. Some of the bricks are bright orange.
Six to seven of these kilns were said to have been built in the late 1800s, said Don Burgess, who has written about the kilns.
Limestone was excavated at the edge of the Tucson Mountains, and horse-drawn wagons would transport the material to the kilns, where it was melted into lime, Burgess said.
"It was used to coat the inside of adobe houses, like plaster," said Burgess, who is the president of the Arizona Archaeological and Historical Society.
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The kilns had a brush with fame in the 1920s, when 32 Roman artifacts, including lead crosses that were inscribed with Latin words, were found inside one of the kilns, though it wasn't the kiln that's still visible on the west side of Silverbell Road, Burgess said.
The Tucson artifacts, as they came to be called, were believed to have been left by a Roman colony sometime around A.D. 775 to 790, Burgess said.
News of the artifacts hit the local papers, and they even made headlines in The New York Times in 1925.
Questions about the authenticity of the artifacts divided archaeologists, Burgess said, and the pieces were finally determined to have been a hoax.
"It was my conclusion they were made the same time they were being discovered," Burgess said of the artifacts, which were discovered in the mid-1920s.
Contact reporter Andrea Rivera at firstname.lastname@example.org or 807-8430.