Pueblo Grande

Pueblo Grande

March 3, 2006

Another weekend in Arizona that was not in the original schedule. This weekend, due to requirements of the project I am working on, I had to stay in the vicinity of Phoenix.

Pueblo Grande

So on Friday, I visited the Pueblo Grande, a community of the people known as the Hohokam. This is located within the city of Phoenix, at the intersection of 44th Street and Washington Street.

This first photo is the first view you get of the mound as you leave the visitor center. This, I believe, is the southwest corner of the mound, which is a rectangle with the long axis oriented in a north-south direction.

It was thought that the mounds found at many of these sites are the administrative centers of the communities that surrounded them. And that the leaders and more important members of the community had their homes in and on the mounds. The religious areas of the community existed on the mounds as well.

The next photo is the northeast corner of the mound, diagonally opposite from where the first photo was taken.

This room was the highest room on the mound and appears to have been used as an observatory. Most rooms in most pueblos in this area do not have doors. Access is usually through a hole in the roof. This room is unusual because it has two doors. At sunrise on the summer solstice and at sunset on the winter solstice, a shaft of light stretches from one doorway to the other.

Notice the airplane in the previous photo. This site is quite close to the airport in Phoenix. This causes extra concerns for the people maintaining the site as the vibrations from the airplanes flying overhead cause additional problems for stabilizing the site.

The door in the northeast corner of the observatory room lines up with Hole-in-the-Rock, which is a natural feature in the Papago Buttes and was used by the Hohokam as a prehistoric astronomical observatory. In this photo, you can see part of the Papago Buttes, but I don't know whether Hole-in-the-Rock exists in the one you can see or the one partially hidden by that building.

This photo shows one of the rooms on the mound. Also in the background you can see another cause for concern for the people who maintain the ruins. The vibrations caused by the trains going by also cause problems with stabilizing the site.

Here is another of the rooms on top of the mound. At some point the usage of this room may have changed, accounting for the doorway to another room being blocked off.

When you look at this diagram, look down at the bottom, near the middle. You will see two people with their backs to you, and a third person facing them and you. The place they are standing is the northwest corner of the mound. The rest of the diagram shows an area which consisted of buildings and open courtyards. Many activities occurred here, and a large part of the daily life of these people happened outside.

This photo was taken from that same northwest corner of the mound and shows what is left of that enclosed area. This area, while not on the mound, was part of the mound compound and was enclosed by walls three feet thick and up to eight feet high.

What allowed the Hohokam to establish a community in this area is that the Salt River flowed through here and had water in it all year long. All that is left of the Salt River is this canal, and because of modern day dams, it is dry during parts of the year.

The community that existed around the mound extended about a mile to the north and east. It consisted of adobe compounds that may have looked very much like the one in these photos. One of the main differences in these reconstructions is that modern building codes required that the rooms and doorways in the replica are taller than the ancient ones were.

This photo shows the walled courtyard which was built around several of the houses. The families shared this space, and shared some of the daily chores of day to day life.

Here you can see the interior of one of the reconstructed buildings, with a fire pit in the middle. As there is no hole in the ceiling for smoke to escape, the purpose of this pit was probably to hold warm embers to heat the room in the winter.

One thing that most people do not realize is that the ancient people who lived here did grow cotton. In the left photo, you can see a couple of baskets of cotton balls near the wall. Usually you think of the Native Americans during this time wearing clothes made from animal skins. Although they did do this, they also had cotton cloth that they weaved on frames much like the one in the photo on the right.

Before the establishment of this community, with the adobe compounds, there were people living here in pit houses. While these compounds were not walled, they were arranged around a courtyard just the same, with the families sharing this common area. These reconstructions are also taller than would have been common in acient times.

There is a cutaway provided in the side of one of these buildings, allowing access to the interior. In the photo on the left, you can see a reconstruction of the interior of one of these houses. They are called pit houses because a pit was dug in which the house was built, partially below the ground surface. In the photo on the right you can see the door way which the ancients would have used to gain entrance to the house.

This photo shows a ballcourt that was used by the ancient people who lived here. It is one of three found in this area. Their use was discontinued sometime after the year 1200 for unknown reasons. No one knows the exact nature of the games that were played here.

These photos show a reconstruction of a garden, where crops such as corn, squash, beans and cotton, among others, would have been grown. The fence in the front consists of saguaro ribs, and the back and sides are a living fence of ocotillo branches planted in the ground.

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