HOHOKAM PERIODS: CHANGES OVER SPACE AND TIME

Main sources: Haury, Emil, 1976, The Hohokam: Desert Farmers and Craftsmen, Tucson: University of Arizona Press; Doyel, David & Fred Plog, eds., 1980, Current Issues in Hohokam Prehistory, Tempe: Arizona State University Anthropological Research Papers no. 23; Noble, David, ed., 1991, The Hohokam: Ancient People of the Desert, Santa Fe: School of American Research Press; Crown, Patricia & James Judge, eds., 1991, Chaco & Hohokam: Prehistoric Regional Systems in the American Southwest, Santa Fe: School of American Research Press; Gumerman, George, ed., 1995, Exploring the Hohokam: Prehistoric Desert Peoples of the American Southwest, Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press.

PIONEER (300 BC to 550 AD)

In the early phases, there were few sites: these were mainly in the Central Gila-Salt Rivers area. Early villages were small, but already there were long, wide irrigation canals, and luxury goods were present.

Vahki Phase (ca. 300 B.C.-A.D. 0)
Residences: large pithouses (10 meters across, square floor plan; 4-post support with smaller wall poles; probably for extended family units)
Settlement: considerable internal variation in houses,no village plan (this holds true throughout the Hohokam -- very different from the Pueblos -- due in part to the perishable nature of the houses). Burial goods suggest social differentiation.Distinctive Hohokam shell/stone complex appears early, with stone pallettes. Stone axes of this period are the most complex. (Shell mainly from Gulf of California.) Mano/metate complex distinct: shaped exteriors.
Mesoamerican elements: Canal irrigation, Cremation of the dead, Pottery plain and red-slipped, Humanoid figurines, Macaw feathers used in ritual, Maize.

Estrella Phase (ca. A.D. 0-200)
Residences: House form much smaller - 5-meter-long rectangle
Subsistence: in addition to maize, cotton, squash; amaranth collected; hunting of deer and birds

Sweetwater and Snaketown Phases (ca. A.D. 200-550)

Residences: Sweetwater round forms, 5.5 meter diameter; Snaketown long ellipses, 8 meters long
Settlement: continue on river terraces
Subsistence: expand irrigation into areas more remote from water sources

COLONIAL (550 to 900 AD) (two phases)

Expansion -- into the Salt and Gila river tributaries -- into Verde Valley toward Flagstaff; Along the Agua Fria toward Prescott, and into the San Pedro and Santa Cruz basins; east along the Gila into the Safford area. Sites line these streams, so true colonial expansion, leading to the greatest geographical extent of the Hohokam in this period. Cause? Population expansion following earlier efficient irrigation farming.

Residences: continue as in Snaketown Phase - long, ellipsoid pithouses

Increased Mesoamerican influence: platform mounds first, then ballcourts; tepary beans (this period correlates with the Mesoamerican Classic Period: Teotihuacan waxes, then wanes)


Subsistence: the maximum extent of canal irrigation at this time, canals larger, more efficient (narrower, deeper); increased hunting of deer and birds

Ceramics -- proportionally more painted, more complex designs;

Stone work very elaborate -- long serrated points, animal-sculptured stone bowls;

Shell carving and beads more elaborate and common;

mosaic mirrors from Mesoamerica -- pyrite plates cut from larger plates, set into adhesive.

SEDENTARY ("SACATON") 900 - 1100 AD

Geographical area contracted somewhat, though some expansion near Flagstaff, related to eruptions of sunset crater in 1066-67 -- more fertile soil due to greater infiltration of rainfall into ash layer.
Settlements: complexity and size increases; Platform Mounds now elaborated into religious-specialized structures. Layers of construction seen -- one mound at Snaketown was palisaded around the perimeter.

Both cremation and extended inhumation burials;

40% of all ceramics decorated

Mosaic plaque mirrors elaborated (show identical developmental sequence to that of Mesoamerica);
non-utilitarian artifacts increase in number, selection of deposits (suggest increasing social stratification

Copper Bells first appear (copper comes from West Coast of Mexico);

At end of this period: abandonment of most long-occupied sites -- don't know why -- climate, water?

CLASSIC (2 phases) 1100-1450 AD

This was a period of very substantial social and cultural changes:
Population: rose and peaked around 1300 A.D. Contraction of territory -- toward the end, and except in the core area; Many frontier areas were abandoned. This contraction was regional-southwestern -- some Hohokam change involved settlement away from rivers some distances;
Subsistence: great intensification of land use -- exploitation of more marginal areas - terracing of slopes, hilltops; expansion of canal irrigation again
Settlement: villages show evidence of centralized organization; pit house form supplanted by above-ground, post-supported solid adobe walls, with contiguous rooms and some multi-storied structures -- the Anasazi (Pueblo) pattern - and some villages were fortified
Burial practices: inhumation tended to replace cremation
Polychrome ceramics associated with Pueblo influence

The Classic Period may have been a time of greater moisture in the Hohokam area, allowing for this population increase. At the same time, the Anasazi cultures - having reached their peak in places like Chaco Canyon - were undergoing a decline, as were Mogollon Mountain Tularosa and Mimbres sites. It may be that rainfall incidence in these areas had become increasingly unpredictable.

POST-CLASSIC (1450-Present)

The end of the Classic is the end of Hohokam -- abandonment of towns & villages, decline of previous elaborations -- Apache nomad influence? Collapse of Mesoamerica? Irrigation failures? The Casa Grande Great House was built 1250-1325 AD, but after 1450 the entire complex was abandoned.