Traveling to the Horned Serpent’s Home: Pilgrimages to Paquimé

Author(s): Todd VanPool; Christine VanPool

Year: 2017


In the 13th and 14th centuries, a new political and religious capital expanded its influence in the North American Southwest. This settlement, called Paquimé or Casas Grandes, was the focus of pilgrimages that reflected and reinforced the social dominance of the elites living at the community. However, caches of millions of ocean shell, instances of human sacrifice, and other aspects of the archaeological record indicate that Paquimé itself was likely considered a living entity that helped control access to water throughout the region. The pilgrimages consequently reflected and created a reciprocal relationship in which the settlement legitimized the elites living there while the elites reinforced and emphasized the sentient nature of the settlement. The resulting pattern is largely consistent with Southwestern and Mesoamerican perceptions of animated places where human and nonhuman beings negotiated complex relationships within the larger cosmological network. These animated locations were often the focus of pilgrimages, and included living communities, ancestral communities, natural features (e.g., the Zuni pilgrimages to the Salt Lake), and symbolic representations of the heavens.

Cite this Record

Traveling to the Horned Serpent’s Home: Pilgrimages to Paquimé. Todd VanPool, Christine VanPool. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 430768)


Spatial Coverage

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

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 14322