The Path of Hua’m A Nui: Aggrandizement among the Classic Period Phoenix Basin Hohokam


O’Odham oral histories describes the overthrow of Hua’m a Nui (Yellow Buzzard) and other arrogant rulers of platform mound villages in the Phoenix Basin. These oral histories are consistent with archaeological data that point to increasing social stratification during the Classic Period. This paper addresses the question of how the household-based egalitarianism of the Preclassic developed into Late Classic hierarchy. Leveling mechanisms that previously channeled aggrandizers into socially acceptable prestige-building began to break down during a period of instability and uncertainty of the Preclassic to Classic transition. Aggrandizers gradually reshaped Hohokam social organization to their own ends – a process that culminated in the Late Classic period with elites living on platform mounds constructed by others. An example of aggrandizement was recently identified during excavations at the village of La Plaza in Tempe. A regular alignment of several puddling pits immediately adjacent to the platform mound suggests that construction and/or maintenance of this structure was a well-organized group activity. These Late Sedentary/Early Classic pits were last used after communal winter canal maintenance but before household-based spring planting, suggesting that an aggrandizing work boss appropriated and redirected canal labor crews to work on the platform mound.

Cite this Record

The Path of Hua’m A Nui: Aggrandizement among the Classic Period Phoenix Basin Hohokam. Christopher Watkins, Christopher Garraty, Travis Cureton, Dave Bustoz, Erik Steinbach. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 429539)


Spatial Coverage

min long: -115.532; min lat: 30.676 ; max long: -102.349; max lat: 42.033 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 16703