Ancient Hohokam Communities in Southern Arizona: The Coyote Mountains Archaeological District in the Alter Valley


The greater Coyote Mountains archaeological district identified in this volume is located at the north end of the Altar Valley of Arizona and includes an extensive and varied complex of archaeological sites and features. These cultural materials are believed to represent the remains of one or more large, early-to-late Classic period (A D . 1150-1450) communities focused on at least 10 walled compounds-open spaces enclosed by adobe or masonry walls--interpreted as residential areas. Associated with at least 5 of these compounds are architectural features interpreted by archaeologists as platform mounds-earthen mounds believed to have functioned as public monuments of social or religious importance. The origins of this prehistoric Hohokam Indian community, referred to as the Coyote Mountains platform mound community, are not yet clear. Decorated pottery types at some sites indicate Hohokam Preclassic period (A D . 2001150) occupation of the district but it seems that the community experienced a dramatic population growth during the early Classic period (A D . 1150-1350). This growth may reflect a reorganization and concentration of nearby populations that resided to the north and east on the slopes of the Tucson, Sierrita, and Roskruge mountains surrounding the Avra and Altar valleys or perhaps it reflects immigration from the southern Altar Valley or the valleys to the west of the Baboquivari, Quinlan, and Coyote mountains. Regardless of the sources of this population influx, over the entire course of the Classic period (A D . 1150-1450) the Coyote Mountains platform mound community grew to include an extensive group of contemporary villages, farmsteads, agricultural fields, and limited activity sites spread along the east and south flanks of the Coyote Mountains.

These remains have cultural research significance in Hohokam archaeology because they comprise the southernmost Hohokam platform mound community known and because they are the southernmost of a series of platform mound communities that apparently originated in the Phoenix area of Arizona; thus the sites are suitable for study of relationships between peripheral and central platform mound communities. Also, unlike some other platform mound communities of the nearby Santa Cruz River basin, at least parts of the Coyote Mountains community persisted into, and perhaps even reached a population peak, during the late Classic period (A D . 1350-1450). The research potential of the Coyote Mountains Archaeological District is further enhanced by the fact that it has never been subjected to disruptive agricultural, residential, commercial, or industrial development, and many of its contributing properties have evidently been partially buried and thus preserved by recent alluvium.

Cite this Record

Ancient Hohokam Communities in Southern Arizona: The Coyote Mountains Archaeological District in the Alter Valley, 3. Allen Dart, James P. Holmlund, Henry D. Wallace. 1990 ( tDAR id: 448448) ; doi:10.48512/XCV8448448

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Temporal Coverage

Calendar Date: 1150 to 1450 (Classic Period Occupation)

Calendar Date: 200 to 1150

Spatial Coverage

min long: -111.699; min lat: 31.707 ; max long: -111.331; max lat: 31.959 ;

Individual & Institutional Roles

Contact(s): Desert Archaeology, Inc.

Prepared By(s): Center for Desert Archaeology

Submitted To(s): Department of the Interior, National Park Service

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tr90-03_final_OCR_PDFA.pdf 100.59mb Sep 21, 1990 Apr 15, 2019 12:15:21 PM Confidential
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Contact(s): Desert Archaeology, Inc.

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