The
Classic
Period
Hohokam


With Reference
to the Sinagua,
Salado, and
Prescott Branches


Table of
Contents

Title page

Table of Contents

Illustrations

1999 Foreword

Introduction

The Salado Theory

The Salado Branch

The Prescott Branch

The Sinagua Branch

Comparison: Prescott, Salado and Sinagua

The Hohokam

Summary

Appendix A:
A Probable Prescott Branch Site on the Lower Agua Fria River


Appendix B:
Some Problems Presented In This Paper


Bibliography A

Bibliography B

1999 Annotations

1999 Bibliography



Home page

E-mail

The Classic Period Hohokam, With References to the Sinagua, Salado and Prescott Branches, 1969

Listed in descending order of usefulness, these three pages I believe are the best pages
of the paper:

The Classic Period Hohokam, for 1969 probably the most thought provoking pages in the report.

Appendix A, the Calderwood Site on the lower Agua Fria River. Prior to the publication of this page, there had been no published descriptions.

The Sinagua, little original thought, good quotes from Harold S. Colton's The Sinagua


The Hohokam

The main purpose of this paper was to help define more clearly the Classic period Hohokam and to see if possible, some of the factors which contributed to the development of the Classic. A secondary goal is to define what became of the Classic in its later years.

Dr. Emil Haury (1945) wrote the following concerning the Classic Hohokam:

It is clear that greater changes in the development of the Hohokam Culture took place between the Sedentary and Classic periods than between any other two periods - changes which appear to have been brought about largely through outside forces rather than because of any internal troubles. (Haury 1945:204)

This writer does not agree with Dr. Haury, believing rather that the main changes in evidence between the Sedentary and Classic periods were the continuation of trends evidenced in pre-Classic times. The writer does believe however that these trends in cultural change were probably accelerated by external forces, both in the pressures being applied from the north and the ideas coming in from the south contributing.

The following pages will be devoted to attempting to show that many of the changes evidenced in the classic [sic] are the results more of the continuation and intensification of pre-Classic trends than the result of an invading people.

Architecture has for years been considered one of the main indicators for the Salado Invasion. Architecture will also be one of the most difficult traits to show as a Hohokam development, especially since I do not consider all phases of Classic architecture, such as massive walls and artificial mounds to be a Hohokam development, but the result of influence form the South. However, many of the other traits probably did develop from earlier Hohokam.

It has been claimed that Soho phase houses are not a Hohokam development. Hayden (1957:181) wrote that no Hohokam type houses are to be found in the Soho. He also said that the first signs of northern influence, at least at Casa Grande, was the introduction of post-reinforced wall (Hayden 1957:183). On the basis of a structure uncovered at Las Colinas, and a second probable, containing crushed vessels of a very early Casa Grande Red-on-buff on the floor, I believe Hayden's statements to be inaccurate. The structure had post-reinforced walls which were vertical to the floor. The house had been built in a pit, there being a doorway with two steps and what could be interpreted as a vestigial ramp. I believe that the post reinforced wall developed out of the pre-Classic pithouse wall. E.B. Sayles (Gladwin et. Al, 1937:78-80) wrote that there was a trend through time toward an increased size and a closer setting of secondary posts (wall supports) in evidence at Snaketown. Sayles thought this made it possible to use smaller main interior posts. From the one interior post stub found in situ in the house at Las Colinas, the reduction in size of roof supports was substantial, it being no larger than the wall supports. There were some indications however to intimate that there were also a number of larger main roof supports, although no stubs were found. The gradual shifting of the support of the roof from main roof supports to the wall supports would indicate the continuation of a trend through time which reached its culmination in the Classic.

The introduction of solid unreinforced walls can not be explained so easily. Work in Compound A at Casa Grande National Monument indicated the use of post-reinforced and unreinforced walls were contemporaneous (Steen 1965:73). Whether the omission of post reinforcement was an indigenous idea or an imported one needs to be defined. Massive walls were introduced during the Soho on the basis of work at Las Colinas, but whether these are indigenous or not also needs to be defined.

Compound walls present a greater problem. Hayden considered them to have been a Salado trait (Hayden 1957:183). Haury called adobe compound walls "borrowed" (Haury 1945:207), presumably from the Salado. Nobody however has searched for a proto-compound wall in the Hohokam area. At the Citrus Site, Ariz T:13:2, near Gila Bend, a plaza of the Sacaton phase was found which was surrounded by Sacaton structures scattered about its periphery (Wasley and Johnson 1965:37-8). Haury noted a similar arrangement at Snaketown (Dittert: Personal Communication). This writer has reason to suspect that this settlement pattern will be found extending back into Colonial Hohokam. This is another problem which is in need of study. With this settlement pattern emerging, I suggest that before we start assuming that the compound wall was adopted by the Hohokam from any other people at a Classic horizon, that we search for enclosing walls surrounding these clusters of houses, such as a palisade found at the Bidegain Ruin (DiPeso 1958:11). It is interesting that a palisade such as I am hypothesizing was found at Snaketown surrounding a Sacaton phase platform mound (Haury 1965:7).

Platform mounds since first being defined by Wasley near Gila Bend (Wasley 1960), have since been recognized at Snaketown (Haury 1965:7) and at Las Colinas. At Snaketown the idea of platform mounds was apparently introduced at the end of the Pioneer period, but did not reach its final refinement until the Sedentary period (Haury 1965:7). The highway Salvage [sic] project at Las Colinas, under the direction of Mr. Laurens Hammack, revealed a platform mound which dated entirely from the Soho phase. The mound had been built by the initial construction of post-reinforced walls acting only as retaining walls. The space between was then filled in with a trash fill. This was then floored over with a caliche plaster. The outermost walls were low, the inner becoming taller. This produced a gently sloping mound with what probably was a flat crown. At least during its later history it was surrounded by a massive wall, still however in a Soho context.

The Soho is also characterized by the construction of large artificial mounds which had habitations built on top, a difference from the platform mounds discussed above. I suggest that the platform mounds of the type as found at Snaketown and Las Colinas were more of socio-religious importance and that the mounds with habitations constructed on top represent defensive positions.

The suggestion of a defensive nature for these large mounds is based upon a couple of factors. The first is that at the time they were being built, the Hohokam were withdrawing from up the Agua Fria, Verde, and middle Salt Rivers, and these lands were being reoccupied by non-Hohokam groups. In conjunction with this we see the abandonment of gathering sites to the north of the Salt River, such as the Herberger Site in the McDowell Mountains (Opfenring 1969:18). We have the Hohokam withdrawing back to their nuclear area at precisely the time these large mounds were being built. The second factor is the distribution of these large mounds in relation to their size. Pueblo Grande, located in Phoenix, Arizona, on the north side of the Salt River, is described by Haury as "...perhaps the largest artificial mound of its kind in the Southwest,..." (Haury 1945:33). Mesa Grande, located in Mesa Grande, located in Mesa, Arizona, also on the Salt River, covers a ground area of two and one-half acres (Frank Midvale: Personal Communication). The archaeologists at Casa Grande National Monument, Roy Reaves, knows of no mounds of the nature approaching this size on the Gila River (Reaves: Personal Communication). So we have these large mounds appearing at a time when the northern Hohokam frontier was apparently in a state of unrest and in relatively close proximity to the Salt River, the nuclear area of the Hohokam. Also the largest of these mounds were being built in the northern Hohokam area, or closest to the northern frontier. The occupation of these mounds apparently continued through the Civano phase (Hayden 1957:195), indicating perhaps a continuing pressure.

At this time the discussion of a unique site, the only example surviving at this time, is in order. Casa Grande has for years been thought of as being an astronomical observatory. Recent research may finally lend some support to this hypothesis. Talking about Casa Grande, Gladwin said:

A suggestion of astronomical reckoning is indicated in the placing the small holes in an outer and an inner wall on the eastern side of Casa Grande. These holes were aligned as that, on about the seventh of March and of September the sun, on rising, shone through the two walls on a third wall of the central room of the first floor of the building. (Gladwin 1937:104)

It is indeed ironical that though the Casa Grande may well have been an observatory, Gladwin was referring to modern holes. Roy Reaves analyzed the above mentioned holes and searched the recent history of the building. It seems that some time before the turn of the century, a local construction company was given a contract to stabilize the building. As part of the job, the holes in question were drilled (the tooling marks are still in evidence) and iron rods inserted and bolted in. Apparently the contractor spent more money than he was allowed and the government would not pay the difference. The contractor then removed all of the materials that he could, including the iron rod, thus leaving our sun holes (Reaves: Personal Communication).

The following is unfortunately secondhand, being obtained from Roy Reaves instead of Dave Kayser who did the work. I is this writer's understanding, however, that the work described sketchily below, is due to be published in the near future, at which time a better understanding will be obtainable. Very simply, the gist of the work is that holed [sic] in the walls of the upper story of Casa Grande have been measured, angles recorded, and with the aid of a computer, aligned with the position of celestial bodies as they were at the time the building was built; each hole was apparently successfully aligned upon a given body (Reaves: Personal Communication). It will be very interesting to see the more compete report.

One beam used on the construction of Casa Grande was datable by dendrochronology, yielding a date of A.D. 1325 (Reaves: Personal Communication). Dan Opfenring believes that the Casa Grande was still occupied when Coronado passed through the area in 1540 (Opfenring 1969:31).

The second major difference between the Classic and pre-Classic is in the disposal of the dead. There is a marked increase in the frequency of inhumations over cremations. In the past, the cremations were interpreted as being representative of the indigenous Hohokam, the inhumations of the invading Salado (Haury 1945:207); Wasley and Johnson 1965:69; Hayden 1957:195). This division has not been accepted in an absolute sense, almost all authors indicating a crossing of the line between Hohokam and Salado by individuals in the matter of the disposal of the dead (Hayden 1957:195; Wasley and Johnson 1965:88).

It is significant that there is a tradition of inhumation on a pre-Classic contest. This writer has heard of scattered inhumations stretching back to the Vahki phase, but must disregard them at this time for the lack of documentation or firsthand communication. The first documented instances are in a Sacaton context. During the first Snaketown excavations, ten inhumations were encountered. Two were definitely Sacaton, two probable Sacaton, and two thought to be Sacaton (Gladwin et al, 1937:91-3). Four were unclassified. This is not a great number when compared to the number of cremations also found, 530 all told. Of these 540 individuals recovered however, 142 were unplaced as to phase, 275 to phases other than the Sacaton, leaving only 123 individuals of the Sacaton phase, of which six were inhumations constitute 5.1% of the total. Data on a site of Soho phase is not available. The data on Los Muertos is three cremations to each inhumation. The cremations and inhumations are all thought to belong to the Civano phase (Haury 1945:43). The inhumations makeup only about 25 % figure of the Civano would be forthcoming. Until additional data has been obtained, this writer contends that it is not safe to use the presence or absence of inhumations as criteria for defining the presence or absence of the Salado.

The presence of Gila Polychrome was once considered to be proof that the Salado were to be found. It has become clear recently, however, that Gila Polychrome is not this useful, as it seems to have a very long varied life. Gila Polychrome is not definable as a type which always characterized by a given technique of manufacture, or found to contain a given range of design elements. It is not always definable as a single traditional style (DiPeso 1958:175) and seems at times to have been adopted by some groups, who were not in direct contact with the Salado as a fad (DiPeso 1958:83).

Because of the almost compete lack of value that Gila Polychrome has in defining the Salado, the task, therefore, falls to other Salado wares. Steen noted however, that Tonto Red and Salado Red, normally associated with Gila Polychrome on Salado sites, was not found in Compound A at Casa Grande (Steen 1965:74).

Also of interest, is that at Los Muertos, only parts of four corrugated vessels were found and these were classified as tradeware (Haury 1945:108). To this writer's knowledge, corrugated vessels are usually quite abundant and in relation with Gila Polychrome in the Tonto Basin. This writer in his field work, has seen only a very small number of corrugated sherds found.

Discussion: Although other criteria are used to distinguish the Salado from the Hohokam, these are usually considered to be of subsidiary importance to the three mentioned above are not usually considered to any great extent. This is not the way it should be, however until additional work is done on these other traits the problem shall hinge upon the three discussed above; architecture, disposal of the dead, and ceramics.

The author feels that in all three cases, there is enough evidence available to either cast doubt on the presence of the Salado or to invalidate the use of these traits at this time.

Architecturally it has been shown that the post-reinforced wall could very easily be an outgrowth of pre-Classic trends. The Compound wall, though not known at this time in a pre-Classic context, cannot automatically be regarded as an imported idea, for the concept of the compound wall could have been he outgrowth of the palisade, the palisade being known from the Sacaton phase. The fact that the palisade has yet to be found surrounding clusters of structures may very well reflect the lack of previous field works searching for this feature.

Two types of platform mounds are known from the Soho phase of the Classic period. One has a long history among the Hohokam, the other a short history. The type with a long history does not have structures built on top and generally has gently sloped sides. The second type appears in the Soho phase and has structures built on top. The first type may have been of socio-religious importance, the second, of defensive importance. Another question of great importance is what did the type two develop out of - the type one, or from a completely different source?

The work at Casa Grande by Dave Kayser, on possible astronomical uses of the structure, should a strong enough case be presented, would indicate a relatively strong contact with Meso-America.

Shouldered burial shaft, diagrammatic profile
Figure 5a. Shouldered shaft, pole covered inhumation as seen from one end.

High resolution image, 503 x 666 pixels, 32.5KB



Shouldered burial shaft, diagrammatic plan
Figure 5b. Shouldered shaft, pole covered inhumation seen from straight above.

High resolution image, 503 x 666 pixels, 33.5KB

Figure 5. Pole covered inhumations known from Walnut Creek, Ariz U:9:100, and King's Ruin. Do knot know whether the shouldered shaft [was] found at King's Ruin or not.

Burial patterns are at this stage, not regarded by this writer to represent any significant value in determining the presence or absence of the Salado. The recent work at Ariz U:9:100 by the Department of Anthropology [sic] Arizona State University, under the direction of Dr. Alfred Dittert, will undoubtedly provide a great deal additional data. Of special interest is a burial form in which a shouldered shaft is timbered over (see fig. 5). This form has a palynological date of at least A.D. 1420 (Dittert: Personal Communication). None of the earlier burials exhibit either the shouldering of the shaft or the timber roofing. This same type of burial vault was found a [sic] Walnut Creek near Young, Arizona, only being of a slightly earlier date (Dittert: Personal Communication). It is also reminiscent of the Prescott Branch burial forms which have been mentioned earlier in this paper.

Ceramics provide the best indication as to the presence or absence of the Salado. Gila Polychrome on the basis of recent studies may be omitted as being diagnostic. The plainwares normally associated with Gila Polychrome in the Tonto Basin are missing in the Salt and Gila Rivers, including corrugated types. It appears very unlikely to this writer that if a people migrated from one area to another, that they would continue to manufacture one [pottery] type, which has been presumed in the past in the case of Gila Polychrome, and completely stop making another type, corrugated, which apparently enjoyed a high popularity in their homeland.

The writer therefore does not consider the Salado to have migrated to the Salt and Gila River Valleys, basing this on the total lack of Salado plainwares, which he feels should be found if the Salado themselves were present, and the apparent evolution of architecture from pre-Classic traditions. Quite obviously further work needs to be done with architecture and burials. The occurrence of a shouldered, timbered roofed shaft at both Ariz U:9:100 and Walnut Creek may apparently belie this, however there may be an alternate explanation to their occurrences. This will be brought forth in the summary.





Created:
19 September 1999

Revisions

Major:
10 October 1999

Minor:
19 January 2003







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( Sequencing: left to right; top to bottom )

Title page


Table of Contents

Illustrations

1999 Foreword

Introduction

The Salado Theory

The Salado Branch

The Prescott Branch

The Sinagua Branch

Comparison: Prescott, Salado and Sinagua

The Hohokam

Summary

Appendix A:
A Probable Prescott Branch Site on the Lower Agua Fria River

Appendix B:
Some Problems Presented In This Paper

Bibliography A

Bibliography B

1999 Annotations

1999 Bibliography




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