Hohokam (//) was a society located in the North American Southwest, in the areas now part of Arizona and Sonora, Mexico. Hohokam practiced a specific culture, sometimes referred to as Hohokam culture, which has been distinguished by archaeologists. People who practiced this culture can be called Hohokam as well, but more often they are distinguished as Hohokam people to avoid confusion.
Most archaeologists agree that the Hohokam culture existed between 300 and 1500 AD, although cultural precursors may have been in the area as early as 300 BC. Whether Hohokam culture was unified politically remains under controversy. Hohokam culture may have just given unrelated, neighboring communities common ground, helping them to work together to survive their harsh desert environment.
According to the National Park Service Website, the word Hohokam is borrowed from the O'odham language, and used by archaeologists to identify a group of people who lived in the Sonoran Desert. Other archaeologists prefer to identify ancient Arizona as part of the Oasisamerica tradition, and instead call Hohokam the Oasisamericans. Nevertheless, the Hohokam are one of the four major cultures of the American Southwest and northern Mexico, according to Southwestern archaeology.
The origin of Hohokam society is also under controversy. Most archaeologists support either an indigenous or Mesoamerican origin, but Pueblo influences from the northern culture are also present. Hohokam settlements were located on regional trade routes that extended past Hohokam range, from as far east as the Great Plains and as far west as the Pacific coast. Therefore, Hohokam societies received a relatively high amount of immigration. Some communities established significant markets, such as the one in Snaketown. The harshness of the Sonoran Desert may have been the most influential factor on the society, however; despite the cultural exchanges that occurred at trade centers, self-sufficiency and local resources were emphasized in communities.
Today in Phoenix, the Hohokam are known for their large-scale irrigation networks. Their canal network in the Phoenix metropolitan area was the most complex in ancient North America. A portion of the ancient canals has been renovated for the Salt River Project, and today helps to supply the city's water. The original canals were dirt ditches and required routine maintenance, but the ones in use today have been lined with concrete for easier upkeep. When Hohokam society collapsed, the dirt canals fell into disrepair. Some Euroamerican settlers later filled in the canals, finding them burdensome. Others rebuilt them, as did the Mormon pioneers who settled the Lehi area of Mesa near Red Mountain.
There are several, official spelling variants for the term Hohokam. These include Hobokam, Huhugam, and Huhukam. The spellings are commonly thought to be interchangeable, but they have different meanings. The Hohokam culture was differentiated from others in the region in the 1930s by archaeologist Harold S. Gladwin. He applied the existing O'odham term for the culture, huhu-kam, in its common mistranslation as "all used up" or "those who are gone", to classify the remains he was excavating in the Lower Gila Valley.
Later, in the 1970s, archaeologist Hardy similarly translated the O'odham word Huhugam to mean "that which has perished." However, Huhugam refers to past human life and is improperly used if referring to objects such as ruins. Hohokam is therefore an archaeological term referring to a culture and people from a specific period in time, and is not to be confused with Huhugam, which refers to reverence for ancestors and descendants. Nevertheless, according to local oral tradition, the Hohokam may be the ancestors of the historic Pima and Tohono O'odham peoples in Southern Arizona.
- 1 Overview
- 2 Hohokam chronological sequence
- 2.1 Pioneer/Formative period (AD 1–750)
- 2.2 Colonial/Preclassic period (750–1050/1150)
- 2.3 Classic period (AD 1050/1150–1450)
- 3 Ceramic tradition
- 4 Cultural divisions
- 5 Major core area villages
- 6 Archaeological sites
- 7 Gallery
- 8 See also
- 9 References
- 10 Further reading
- 11 External links
The Phoenix Basin was the Hohokam Core Area, and the Hohokam Periphery were adjacent areas where the Hohokam culture extended. Collectively, the Core and Peripheries formed the greater Hohokam Regional System, which occupied the northern or Upper Sonoran Desert in Arizona. The Hohokam also extended into the Mogollon Rim.
The Hohokam Core was located along rivers, and as such inhabited a prime trade position. Trade occurred between the Patayan, who were situated along the Lower Colorado River and in southern California; the Trincheras of Sonora, Mexico; the Mogollon culture in eastern Arizona; southwest New Mexico; northwest Chihuahua, Mexico; and the Ancestral Puebloans in northern Arizona. From 900 to 1150 CE, neighboring Chaco society encouraged trade throughout northern Arizona and into southwest Colorado and southern Utah. These trade networks increased hand-to-hand trade throughout the region, with goods traveling throughout the Colorado Plateau, northern Arizona, and the Phoenix area.
Hohokam irrigation systems supported the largest population in the Southwest by 1300 CE. Archaeologists working at a major archaeological dig in the 1990s in the Tucson Basin, along the Santa Cruz River, identified a culture and people that may have been the ancestors of the Hohokam. This prehistoric group may have occupied southern Arizona as early as 2000 BCE, and in the Early Agricultural Period grew corn, lived year-round in sedentary villages, and developed sophisticated irrigation canals.
The Hohokam used the waters of the Salt and Gila Rivers to constructed an assortment of simple canals, combined with weirs, in their various agricultural pursuits. From 800 to 1400 CE, they used extensive irrigation networks that rivaled the complexity of those used in the ancient Near East, Egypt, and China. These were constructed using relatively simple excavation tools, without the benefit of advanced engineering technologies, and achieved drops of a few feet per mile, balancing erosion and siltation. Over 70 years of archaeological research has revealed that the Hohokam cultivated varieties of cotton, tobacco, maize, beans, and squash, as well as harvested a vast assortment of wild plants. Late in the Hohokam Chronological Sequence, they also used extensive dry-farming systems, primarily to grow agave for food and fiber. Their reliance on agricultural strategies was vital in their less than hospitable desert environment, and these would provide the basis for the aggregation of rural populations into complex urban centers.
Overall, Hohokam villages and smaller settlements can be classified within the ranchería-tradition. Rancheria are typically found near water, located on arable land, and residential areas that are clustered together. These clustered residential areas are what archaeologists call compounds. Related nuclear families would build their homes very close or joined together, surrounding a central, outdoor courtyard. The courtyard was an area designated for cooking, gathering, and other tasks, since chores were often shared among the compound residents.
Many features of earlier Hohokam domestic architecture, such as squared or rectangular pithouses, seem to have been transplanted relatively intact from the Tucson basin during the early Formative Period. Throughout the Hohokam Chronological Sequence, individual residential structures were normally excavated approximately 40 cm (16 in) below ground level, with plastered or compacted floors that covered between 12 and 35 m2, and featured a circular, bowl-shaped, clay-lined hearth situated near the wall-entry. By 600 CE, a distinct Hohokam architectural tradition emerged that had similarities with Mesoamerica, such as ballcourts that also served as neighborhood gathering and trade spaces. By 1150 CE, pithouses were replaced by above ground structures in the compound style with central courtyards. By 1200 CE, rectangular platforms mounds were being constructed.
Hohokam burial practices varied over time, but cremation was a defining cultural characteristic of the Hohokam Core. Cremation has been used by archaeologists to suggest cultural interaction through trade, or even immigration, from the Hohokam Core into neighboring communities. An example is the Mogollan, at the Continental site in Tucson. Initially, the primary method employed was flexed inhumation, similar to the tradition used by the southern Mogollon culture, located immediately to the east. In the late Formative and Preclassic periods, the Hohokam cremated their dead, strikingly similar to the traditions documented among the historic Patayan culture situated to the west along the Lower Colorado River. Although the particulars of the practice changed somewhat, the Hohokam cremation tradition remained dominant until around 1300 CE.
Hohokam chronological sequence
As an archaeological construct, the Hohokam chronological sequence (HCS) uses a culture history-based period/phase scheme designed to provide a narrative of what has been perceived as a sequence of significant cultural change. Overall, the reason the HCS is confusing is that two primary methods of expressing this information are used, and within this context, a vast plethora of theoretical variants have been posited. Only the two primary schemes will be addressed, referred to as the Gladwinian and Cultural Horizon expressions. The latter is an adaptation of the chronological scheme used in Mesoamerica applied to avoid the interpretive bias inherent in the Gladwinian scheme (i.e. Pioneer, Colonial, Sedentary periods).[full citation needed]
The HCS and the methods used to establish its calendrical reference are applied only to the Hohokam Core Area, which is the Gila-Salt River basin associated with Phoenix, Arizona, as opposed to what has come to be known as the Hohokam Peripheries. The Hohokam Peripheries are regions located outside the core area. Within these regions, the basic period designations are retained; however, local phases are often used to note significant differences. The cause of these differences and the range of cultural variability within the Hohokam Culture will be addressed below; to some extent, it represents communities influenced by their Ancestral Puebloan and Mogollon neighbors.[full citation needed]
Pioneer/Formative period (AD 1–750)
Living as farmers raising corn and beans, these early Hohokam founded a series of small villages along the middle Gila River. The communities were located near good, arable land, with dry farming common in the earlier years of this period. Water wells, usually less than 10 feet (3 m) deep, were dug for domestic water supplies. Early Hohokam homes were constructed of branches bent in a semicircular fashion and covered with twigs, reeds, and heavily applied mud and other items at hand.[full citation needed]
Crop, agricultural skill, and cultural refinements increased between AD 300 and 500 as the Hohokam acquired a new group of cultivated plants, presumably from trade with peoples in the area of modern Mexico. These new acquisitions included cotton, tepary bean, sieva and jack beans, cushaw and warty squash, and southwestern pigweed. Agave species had been gathered for food and fiber for thousands of years by southwestern peoples, but around 600, the Hohokam began cultivating agave, particularly Agave murpheyi ("Hohokam agave"), on large areas of rocky, dry ground. Agave became a major food source for the Hohokam to augment the food grown in irrigated areas. Engineering improved access to river water and the inhabitants excavated canals for irrigation. Evidence of trade networks include turquoise, shells from the Gulf of California, and parrot bones from central Mexico. Seeds and grains were prepared on stone manos and metates. Ceramics appeared shortly before AD 300, with pots of unembellished brown used for storage and cooking, and as containers for cremated remains. Materials produced for ritual use included fired clay human and animal figures and incense burners.[full citation needed]
Colonial/Preclassic period (750–1050/1150)
Growth is the major characteristic of the Colonial period. Villages grew larger, with clusters of houses opening on a common courtyard. Some evidence exists of social stratification in larger homes and more ornate grave goods. Area and canal systems expanded, and tobacco and agave production began. Mexican influence increased. In larger communities, the first Hohokam ball courts were constructed and served as focal points for games and ceremonies. Pottery was embellished by the addition of an iron-stained slip, which produced a distinctive red-on-buff ware.[full citation needed]
Sedentary period/Sacaton phase (950–1050/1150)
Further population increase brought significant changes during this period. Irrigation canals and structures became larger and required more maintenance. More land came under cultivation, and Southwestern pigweed was grown. House design evolved into post-reinforced pit-houses, covered with caliche adobe. Rancheria-like villages grew up around common courtyards, with evidence of increased communal activity. Large common ovens were used to cook bread and meats.[full citation needed]
Crafts were dramatically refined. By about AD 1000, the Hohokam are credited with being the first culture to master acid etching. Artisans produced jewelry from shell, stone, and bone, and began to carve stone figures. Cotton textile work flourished. Red-on-buff pottery was widely produced.[full citation needed]
This growth brought a need for increased organization, and perhaps authority. The regional culture spread widely, extending from near the Mexican border to the Verde River in the north. There appears to have been an elite class, as well as an increase in social stature for the craftsman. Platform mounds similar to those in central Mexico appear, and may be associated with an upper class and have some religious function. Trade items from the Mexican heartland included copper bells, mosaics, stone mirrors, and ornate birds such as macaws.[full citation needed]
Classic period (AD 1050/1150–1450)
This period can generally be considered a time of both growth and social change. The community of Snaketown, once central to the culture, was suddenly abandoned. Parts of this large village seem to have burned, and thereafter it was never reoccupied. This period also had the construction of large and prestigious structures in the Salt-Gila Basin. These included large, rectangular, adobe-walled compounds with platform mounds and great houses, such as the example found at the Casa Grande Ruins National Monument. Additionally, evidence of Hohokam influence in a broader context decreased significantly.[full citation needed]
Santan phase (AD 1050–1150)
This phase was initially proposed as part of the Gladwinian scheme, but recently has fallen out of favor with many Hohokam archaeologists. The primary reason for this view is that the Hohokam buff ware type once classified as Santan red-on-buff is now listed as either a late form of Sacaton or Casa Grande red-on-buffs. The wide range of vessel forms used for decorated pottery was discarded for globular jars with necks, while overall a significant decrease in production and use of Hohokam buff wares occurred, as well as a radical decline in the procurement and trade of raw shell from northern Mexico and its manufacture into jewelry. Another trait of this phase was the transition from pithouses to pitrooms and the introduction of spherical spindle whorls similar to examples used in northern Mexico. Conceptually, this episode had the relatively sudden and widespread abandonment or relocation of many Hohokam villages and a short-lived population decline. Vast internal changes, the rejection of the Hohokam ballcourt system, and the peripheries' displaying overt indications of belligerence towards the core area, followed by their cultural realignment, suggests that this was a very important episode.[full citation needed]
Soho phase (AD 1050/1150–1300)
The diagnostic ceramic type for this phase was Casa Grande red-on-buff. This Hohokam buff ware was characterized exclusively by jars with necks, decorated with a limited variety of geometric and textual designs. This pottery type appears to have been manufactured at several locales situated in the Gila River basin between Florence and Sacaton, Arizona. In general, this phase represents a major cultural retraction in terms of territory, and two significant episodes of reorganization. The first reorganization occurred around AD 1150 and was typified by a modest increase in population and near-universal adoption of pitroom architecture. These early pitrooms were built of perishable material covered with a thick adobe plaster, and the basal portion of the interior walls was often lined with upright slabs. Similar to the Preclassic period villages, these early Classic period habitation structures were clustered around open courtyards. These courtyard groups were clustered near a large central locus, which often included small platform mounds. These platform mounds were rectangular, faced by post-reinforced adobe walls, and were filled with either sterile soil or refuse from Preclassic trash mounds. In the largest villages, the central locus included small platform mounds. The number of small and medium-sized settlements seem to have declined as the larger communities became increasingly more densely occupied.[full citation needed]
Civano phase (AD 1300–1350/1375)
Although Casa Grande red-on-buff continued to be produced, the pottery type that characterized this phase was Salado polychrome, primarily Gila polychrome. This ceramic type was either manufactured locally or procured as a trade ware. This phase also had the introduction the comal, similar to examples found in northern Mexico, and the production of bird-shaped effigy vessels. Examples of exotic stone and shell artifacts associated with high-status individuals – such as nose plugs, pendants, ear rings, bracelets, necklaces, and sophisticated shell inlays – indicate that the design and manufacture of jewelry reached its zenith during this phase. Other important developments were the significant increased procurement and manufacture of red ware, and the near-universal use of inhumation burial in the area north of the Gila River, both similar to the practices and traditions used by the historic O'odham.[full citation needed]
Immediately after AD 1300, Hohokam villages were reorganized along the lines experienced in the Lower Verde, Tonto Basin, and Safford Basin, in the 13th century. These compounds were composed of a large, rectangular exterior wall that either completely or more typically partially enclosed a series of contiguous courtyards and plazas delineated by interior partition walls. In turn, each courtyard may have contained one to as many as four large, rectangular, adobe-walled pitrooms, possibly associated with several utility structures. Overall, these communities were characterized by relatively compact clusters of between five and 25 adobe-walled compounds, which tended to be grouped around a single very large and well-built compound that often had some form of large community structure, such as a platform mound or great house. Great house structures, as with the one preserved at Casa Grande Ruins National Monument, were built only at the largest communities. These stone or adobe buildings had up to four stories, and were probably used by the managerial or religious elites. They may have also been constructed to align with astronomical observations. Trade with Mexico appears to have declined, but an increased number of trade goods arrived from Pueblo peoples in the north and the east.[full citation needed]
Between AD 1350 and 1375, the Hohokam tradition lost vitality and stability, and many of the largest settlements were abandoned. Rapidly changing climatic conditions apparently substantially affected the Hohokam agricultural base and subsequently prevented the cohesion of their large communities. Repeated floods in the middle 14th century significantly deepened the Salt River bed while destroying canal heads, which required their continuous extension upstream. Soon, additional flooding removed irreplaceable segments of these extensions, which effectively rendered hundreds of miles of canals virtually useless. Because of differences in hydrology and geomorphology, these processes had a lesser impact on the irrigation systems used by the Hohokam in the Gila River basin, yet these were abandoned, as well.[full citation needed] However, the population decline of the Hohokam is estimated to be much less dramatic than formerly believed, at a peak of 20 per 1,000 people between AD 1350 and 1400, and is overestimated simply because Hohokam split into smaller, harder to identify groups. This is further supported by analyzing populations of prey animals that would have been hunted in the area during this period, and finding no major changes in their population, and thus, the number of people hunting them.
Polvoron phase (AD 1350/1375–1450)
This phase is characterized by the widespread use and manufacture of Salado polychrome, with both Gila and Tonto polychromes. After AD 1375, the Hohokam abandoned the villages and canal systems within the lower Salt River basin. This area continued to be occupied, albeit on a far smaller scale. Meanwhile, the very few villages that remained were quite small, and were concentrated along the Gila River, with the notable exception of the lower Queen Creek drainage. Conceptually, this episode is extremely relevant and of great historic importance, as it represents the immediate aftermath of the Hohokam cultural collapse. It represents a critical stage in the ethnogenesis of the modern O'odham.[full citation needed]
The earliest sedentary agricultural settlements in central Arizona date from 1000 to 500 BCE, yet the first ceramics appear just before the Hohokam rise in 300 CE.
Some archaeologists interpret the sudden appearance of pottery as new trade or immigration into the Phoenix area, resulting in the rise of the Hohokam. Other archaeologists classify many of the defining, cultural characteristics as already within the indigenous farming communities by Hohokam rise. Hence, pottery helps to fuel the controversy over Hohokam origins.
It was once thought that Hohokam pottery material varied by location, since communities used local resources. Recently, studies on the temper revealed a variety of origins where pottery was manufactured and traded. Several different pallets, from different time periods, were found in the Gila Bend Region. This helps support the fact that the Hohokam stayed in one area for a long period of time.
Hohokam ceramics are defined by a distinct Plain, Red, and Decorated buffware tradition, and were made using a technique called coiling. Aa small, fine clay base was connected to a series of coils. These coils were then thinned and shaped using the paddle and anvil technique. Hohokam Plain and Red wares were primarily tempered with a variety of materials including micaceous, phyllite, or Squaw Peak schist, as well as granite, quartz, quartzite, and arkosic sands. Analytically, based on the type of temper used, these are classified as to the geographic setting of their manufacture, and are referred to as Gila (Gila River basin), Wingfield (Agua Fria basin, the Northern Periphery, or Lower Verde area), Piestewa Peak (Phoenix metro area north of the Salt River), South Mountain (Phoenix metro area south of the Salt River), or Salt (Salt or Verde River basins) Plain and Red wares.
The surfaces of Plain wares were smoothed to some extent and many were polished, or slipped, with other minerals or clays. After the vessels were fired, these sometimes turned a color that ranged from light or dark brown, gray, to orange. Later, the interiors of bowls were slipped with a black carbonous material. Hohokam Red wares were slipped with an iron-based pigment that turned red after the vessel was fired. The manufacture of decorated Hohokam pottery was similar to that of the Plain wares. However, the clays tended to be of a finer quality and were tempered with caliche and limited amounts of very finely ground micaceous schist and small particles of vegetative material.
Cultural labels such as Hohokam, Ancient Pueblo (Anasazi), Mogollon, or Patayan are used by archaeologists to define cultural differences among prehistoric peoples. Culture names and divisions have been assigned by individuals separated from the cultures by both time and space. Cultural divisions are by nature arbitrary, and are based solely on data available at the time of scholarly analysis and publication. They are subject to change, not only on the basis of new information and discoveries, but also as attitudes and perspectives change within the scientific community. An archaeological division cannot be assumed to correspond to a particular language group or to a political entity such as a "tribe".[full citation needed]
When making use of modern cultural divisions in the Southwest, three specific limitations in the current conventions exist:
- Archaeological research focuses on physical remains, the items left behind during people's activities. Scientists are able to examine fragments of pottery vessels, human remains, stone tools. or evidence left from the construction of buildings, but many other aspects of the cultures of prehistoric peoples are not tangible. Languages spoken by these people and their beliefs and behavior are difficult to decipher from the physical materials. Cultural divisions are tools of the modern scientist, so should not be considered similar to divisions or relationships the ancient residents may have recognized. Modern cultures in this region, many of whom claim some of these ancient people as ancestors, contain a striking range of diversity in lifestyle, language, and religious belief. This suggests the ancient people were also more diverse than their material remains may suggest.[full citation needed]
- The modern term "style" has a bearing on how material items such as pottery or architecture can be interpreted. Within a people, different ways to accomplish the same goal can be adopted by subsets of the larger group. For example, in modern Western cultures, alternative styles of clothing characterize older and younger generations. Some cultural differences may be based on linear traditions, on teaching from one generation or "school" to another. Varieties in style may define arbitrary groups within a culture, perhaps identifying social status, gender, clan or guild affiliation, religious belief, or cultural alliances. Variations may also simply reflect the different resources available in given time or area.[full citation needed]
- Designating culture groups, such as the Hohokam, tends to create an image of group territories separated by clear-cut boundaries, like modern nation states. These simply did not exist. "Prehistoric people traded, worshipped, and collaborated most often with other nearby groups. Cultural differences should therefore be understood as 'clinal', 'increasing gradually as the distance separating groups also increases.'" Departures from the expected pattern may occur because of unidentifiable social or political situations or because of geographical barriers. In the Southwest, mountain ranges, rivers, and most obviously, the Grand Canyon, can be significant geographic barriers for human communities, likely reducing the frequency of contact with other groups. Current opinion holds that the closer cultural similarity between the Mogollon and Anasazi and their greater differences from the Hohokam culture is due to both the geography and the variety of climate zones in the Southwest.[full citation needed]
Major core area villages
The true measure of the Hohokam can only be derived from the sum of their material culture. This is best gleaned from a review of their principal population centers, or more appropriately, major villages. Although sharing a common cultural expression, each of these major villages has its own unique history of emergence, growth, and eventual abandonment. Including outlines of archaeological exploration, provided below are brief descriptions of the largest and most important prehistoric villages found within the so-called Hohokam core area.[full citation needed]
Snaketown was the archetypical Preclassic period settlement and preeminent community centered within the core of the Hohokam culture area. Today, Snaketown is situated within the Hohokam Pima National Monument, located near Santan, Arizona, which was authorized by Congress on October 21, 1972. Excavations conducted in the 1930s and again in the 1960s revealed that the site was inhabited from about 300 BC to AD 1050. At its height in the early 11th century, Snaketown was the center of both the Hohokam culture and the production of the distinctive Hohokam buff ware. Following the last excavations conducted by Emil Haury, the site was completely recovered with earth, leaving nothing visible above ground.[full citation needed]
Overall, Snaketown boasted two ball courts, numerous trash mounds, a small ceremonial mound, a large central plaza, several large community houses, and hundreds of residential pithouses, and may have been home to at least several thousand people. After Snaketown was abandoned, several minor settlements were founded within the general vicinity and continued to be occupied until the early 14th century AD. The Hohokam Pima National Monument is located on Gila River Indian Community (GRIC) land and is under tribal ownership. It covers nearly 1,700 acres (688 ha) (6.9 km²). The GRIC has decided not to open this extremely sensitive prehistoric site to the public.[full citation needed]
Altogether, the greater Grewe-Casa Grande Site represented the largest Hohokam community located within the middle Gila River valley. Situated between two primary canals (on the north, Canal Casa Grande and to the south Canal Coolidge), over time, this community was recorded as several separate archaeological sites. These include the Casa Grande, Grewe, Vahki Inn Village, and Horvath sites. Occupied in the Preclassic and Classic periods, each of these sites was composed of between two and 20 large residential areas. Overall, the greater Grewe-Casa Grande archaeological site covered about 900 acres (3.6 km2), centered on State Route 87 and immediately north of the modern city of Coolidge, Arizona.[full citation needed]
Most observers are attracted to the four-story great house found near the center of the Casa Grande Ruins National Monument. Akimel O'odham oral tradition records that prior to the arrival of the Sto'am O'odham, or "Coyote People", this massive structure was built by an important personage called Sial Teu-utak Sivan, (Morning-Green Leader) or "Chief Turquoise". In the O'odham language, the great house and the associated prehistoric ruins found north of Coolidge were collectively referred to as Sivan Vah'Ki, literally meaning the "Abandoned House", or "Village of the Ruler", respectively. As Frank Russell recorded in the early 20th century, several O'odham oral traditions note that Sial Teu-utak was an important leader of the Casa Grande community, before the overthrow of the Suwu'Ki O'odham, or "Vulture People". Eusebio Francesco Chini (Father Kino) arrived in the middle Gila River valley in 1694 to find the monumental great house abandoned and already in a state of decay and decomposition. Despite its condition, later Jesuit missionaries and he used the great house to hold Mass, between the late 17th and 18th centuries.[full citation needed]
Adolph Bandelier provided one of the first detailed archaeological maps and descriptions of Classic period architecture at the central locus, or Compound A, of the Casa Grande site, in 1884. Jesse Walter Fewkes and Cosmos Mindeleff made further descriptions of this area. Between 1906 and 1912, Fewkes conducted excavations and stabilization of this portion of the site. In 1927, Harold Gladwin excavated stratified tests of several trash mounds at both the Grewe and Casa Grande sites. He also defined and excavated portions of Sacaton 9:6 (GP), an adobe-walled compound situated on the extreme edge of the Casa Grande site, east of State Route 87, near the current entrance to the monument. Relatively large-scale excavations were carried out between 1930 and 1931, by Van Bergen-Los Angeles Museum Expedition under the direction of Arthur Woodward and Irwin Hayden. This project concentrated on a 30-acre (120,000 m2) parcel at the Grewe site, and Compound F located within the northeast corner of the Casa Grande National Monument. Overall, including the recovery of 172 burials and hundreds of thousands of artifacts, about 60 pithouses, numerous pits, 27 adobe pitrooms, and a ballcourt were excavated or tested during the course of this project.[full citation needed]
Additional excavations were performed in the southeast corner of the monument by the Civil Works Administration directed by Russell Hastings in 1933 and 1934. The excavation of 15 pithouses, three pits, 32 burials, and portions of four trash mounds demonstrated the presence of significantly large late Preclassic and early Classic period components within the area covered by the monument. Yet, by far the largest and most comprehensive archaeological endeavor was conducted by Northland Research Inc., from 1995 to 1997, on a 13-acre (53,000 m2) parcel within portions of the Casa Grande, Grewe, and Horvath sites that paralleled State Routes 87 and 287. This project was directed by Douglass Craig, and resulted in the identification and/or excavation of 247 pithouses, 24 pitrooms, 866 pits, 11 canal alignments, a ballcourt, and portions of four adobe-walled compounds, as well as the recovery of 158 burials and over 400,000 artifacts.[full citation needed]
Based on the results of these projects, the history of the greater Grewe-Casa Grande site can be reconstructed with at least some degree of precision. The genesis of this important village appears to have been associated with several groups of pithouses organized around a series of relatively small, circular plazas. These appear to date to the sixth century AD and were located along and immediately upslope of the Coolidge Canal system. By the eighth century AD, this dispersed hamlet had expanded nearly a kilometer south and developed into a full-fledged village. At this point, the settlement consisted of densely packed yet discrete groups of pithouses clustered around small open courtyards. In turn these structures delineated a large central plaza. Adjoining the plaza was a medium-sized ballcourt, and overall, the village was affiliated with several smaller outlying settlements.[full citation needed]
In the 10th century, at least two large secondary villages and about a dozen new hamlets were founded to the west of the main settlement. With the abandonment of Snaketown and the transition from the Preclassic to Classic periods, the greater Grewe-Casa Grande community became one of the largest and most important Hohokam population centers. At its height, the Grewe-Casa Grande village boosted about 100 trash mounds, several hundred residential pithouses, and four or five ballcourts. Regardless of its size, complexity, and significance along the middle Gila River, this settlement never seemed to have attained the status enjoyed by Snaketown, as it pertained to the Hohokam culture, per se. As the western portion of this settlement grew, large sections of the eastern half declined and were abandoned. By AD 1300, the village was composed of about 19 adobe-walled residential compounds, several pitroom clusters, a platform mound, a great house, and numerous trash mounds. With most of the village contained within what is now the Casa Grande Ruins National Monument, after the middle of the 14th century, it began a rapid decline. Around AD 1400 or 1450, the entire settlement was abandoned, except for a low-scale occupation associated with the Polvoron phase.[full citation needed]
Today, about 60% of the Grewe-Casa Grande site has been either destroyed due to agricultural and commercial development, excavated, or remains relatively intact buried under fields used to grow cotton. About 40% of this once huge settlement can be found within the Casa Grande Ruins National Monument, which was established as the nation's first archeological reserve in 1892, and declared a national monument in 1918. Visitors can enjoy an interpretative center, walk among the stabilized ruins of Compound A, and closely view the great house, which has been protected since 1932 from the elements by a distinctively modern-looking roof.[full citation needed]
Pueblo Grande Museum Archeological Park near central Phoenix contains preserved ruins and artifact exhibits. Archaeological finds have been recorded along the track of the adjacent Valley Metro light-rail construction.[full citation needed]
The Mesa Grande ruin, located in Mesa, Arizona, represents another large Hohokam village that was occupied both in the Preclassic and Classic periods, from around AD 200 to 1450. Although this settlement appears to have been very important, it has had little archaeological work, other than the mapping and stabilization projects conducted by the Southwest Archaeology Team (SWAT). The SWAT's indispensable volunteer work at the Mesa Grande ruin began in the middle 1990s and continues today.[full citation needed]
At its peak in the late Preclassic and early Classic periods, this settlement may have consisted of as many as 20 discrete residential areas and covered several hundred acres. Today, due to massive urban development, the surface remains of the village have been reduced to a 6.4 acre parcel situated immediately west of the old Mesa Hospital. Within this plot are the ruins of a large adobe compound and a nine-meters-high, relatively intact, platform mound. This is only one of the last three remaining Hohokam platform mounds in the greater Phoenix metro area. This parcel was transferred into public ownership in the mid-1980s, therefore the compound and mound were not destroyed and a full visitor center exists on the enclosed site that is open October–May annually.
Las Colinas and Los Hornos
Located within the modern city of Tempe, Arizona, the Hohokam settlement of Los Hornos (from the Spanish los hornos, meaning 'the ovens') was initially investigated by Frank Cushing in 1887. With urban expansion, additional excavations were conducted in the 1970s, late 1980s, and throughout the 1990s. The results of these comprehensive archaeological projects have documented both a large Preclassic- and Classic-period village organized much the same as Snaketown and Pueblo Grande, respectively, yet on a somewhat smaller scale. Los Hornos appears to have started around AD 400, as a small cluster of rectangular pithouses situated on the extreme western edge of the site, west of Priest Dr and south of US 60.[full citation needed]
Over time, the Los Hornos settlement expanded along a series of large secondary canals to the east and southeast. At the height of the Preclassic occupation in the Sacaton phase, which was contemporary with the zenith of Snaketown, this settlement had one large ball court, a large central plaza, several formal cremation cemeteries, numerous trash mounds, and several hundred residential pithouses. The detailed excavation of 50 Preclassic period pithouses in the area located immediately south of US 60 and east of Priest Dr, provided invaluable information concerning residential architecture and the functional use of interior space. Additional information concerning the Archaeological Consulting Services Ltd. excavation of a Preclassic occupation at Los Hornos can be found at the following site.
After a short period of population loss and community reorganization in the late 11th and early 12th centuries AD, Los Hornos continued to shift east and south in the Classic period. This large village appears to have recovered somewhat and again became an important settlement late in the Soho or early in the Civano phases, from AD 1277 to 1325. At this time, Los Hornos, now centered on Hardy Dr south of US 60 and north of Baseline Road, consisted of about 15 residential compounds, a large central plaza, a large rectangular platform mound with an associated compound, several large trash mounds, and numerous borrow pits and inhumation and cremation cemeteries.[full citation needed]
Prior to the middle of the 14th century AD, with the rise of Los Muertos located several miles to the southeast, the Los Hornos community appears to have spiraled into a precipitous decline. Although greatly reduced in scale and importance, the settlement continued to be occupied until it was effectively abandoned between AD 1400 and 1450, as was much of the Lower Salt River basin. Today, much of the Los Hornos village has been destroyed due to modern transportation, residential, and commercial development, or has been excavated. The only surface vestiges of this once significant Hohokam settlement are the remains of several low trash mounds found in the Old Guadalupe Village Cemetery.[full citation needed]
The following Hohokam archaeological sites and museums are open to the public, except for Hohokam Pima National Monument.
- Casa Grande Ruins National Monument, Coolidge, Arizona. Casa Grande Ruins National Monument
- Hohokam Pima National Monument (Snaketown), Gila River Indian Reservation (closed to public).
- Indian Mesa, Peoria, Arizona
- Mesa Grande Ruins, Mesa, Arizona.
- Painted Rock Petroglyph Site, Theba, Arizona
- Park of the Canals, Mesa, Arizona.
- Pueblo Grande Museum Archeological Park, Phoenix, Arizona.
- Sears-Kay Ruin – Hohokam Fort on top of a foothill in Carefree, Arizona.
- White Tank Mountain Regional Park, White Tank Mountains
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