The Pueblo Grande Project: Feature Descriptions, Chronology, and Site Structure


Soil Systems, Inc. (SSI) of Phoenix, Arizona conducted a 16-month data recovery project at the large Hohokam village of Pueblo Grande. The site is located on the north bank of the Salt River in metropolitan Phoenix, Arizona. Approximately 20 to 25 percent of the site was excavated as the result of the expansion of the urban freeway system in Phoenix. The Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) sponsored the project.

Pueblo Grande was one of the primary villages in the Phoenix Basin and is located in the northern Sonoran desert of south-central Arizona. The site was occupied as early as A.D. 500 during the Pioneer period. The remains found in the project area date primarily to the Classic period. Early occupation of the project area is limited to the late Sedentary period, probably dating between A.D. 1000 and 1100 or 1150. The Classic period occupation in the project area probably dates between A.D. 1150 and 1450. The Classic period phase dates for the project area are: the Soho phase, A.D. 1150 to 1800; the Civano phase, A.D. 1250 or 1300 to 1375; and the Polvorón phase, A.D. 1350+ to 1425 or 1450.

The SSI research at Pueblo Grande broadly addressed the socioeconomic organization and evolution of the Classic period Hohokam as viewed from Pueblo Grande. Research domains were developed to focus specifically on the questions of socioeconomic organization and evolution, particularly at the coresident, household, and site level. Topics addressed included the size, composition, and functional variability of coresident (pithouse aggregates or courtyard groups and compounds) units; the degree of integration within and between coresident units in a single architectural complex; evidence of economic specialization or subsistence diversification; demography and growth rates; variation in diet reflecting greater access to a wider variety of foodstuffs in wealthier households; variation in the distribution of prestige items; and the degree of overlap between coresidential and household units. For the purposes of this study, coresidential units consist of a group of people who normally share living quarters, and households include people who share in the maximum number of definable activities in a particular cultural setting.

Research also focused on the mortuary practices of the Classic period Hohokam at Pueblo Grande. A total of 836 burial features -- 620 inhumations, 189 cremations, and 27 possible burials --was recovered from 17 burial groups. This represented an unprecedented opportunity to study Hohokam social organization. Additionally, because the burials generally occurred in discrete cemeteries that were usually associated with a habitation area, the burial data provided supplemental data on household size, composition, and organization. The array of associated burial offerings, the state of health as determined by the osteological analyses, and the reconstruction of Pueblo Grande community organization contributed information that explicitly addressed the research domains.

Defining site structure also was a major goal of this research. Specifically, the concentric-zone model for paramount Hohokam sites was evaluated. Pueblo Grande is of interest because it appears that two central, spatially discrete loci were occupied simultaneously during the late Classic period. One was the platform mound, located in the southern portion of the site, and the other was the big house, which was located toward the north edge of the site.

The Pueblo Grande Project report is divided into eight volumes. Volume 2, Feature Descriptions, Chronology, and Site Structure, presents an overview of the architectural and nonarchitectural features recorded during the excavations. Chapter 2 provides a descriptive overview of the 14 habitation areas and 17 burial groups excavated. Over 348 architectural features (Chapter 3) were identified during excavations. Seven different types of pithouses and two types of surface structures were identified. The different architectural styles identified have both temporal and spatial implications. Additionally, hundreds of pits (Chapter 4) were excavated. These include varieties associated with food preparation, storage facilities, borrow pits, trashpits, caliche mixing pits, and undifferentiated pits. Chapter 5 summarizes the 886 burial features excavated at Pueblo Grande. Features associated with both inhumations (n=620) and cremations (n=189) were identified. Some 27 features were designated possible burials. Burials occurred in discrete cemeteries, most of which were associated with habitation areas.

Of particular interest in Volume 2 is Chapter 6, Chronology. Stratigraphic relationships, ceramic seriation, ceramic cross dating, and chronometric dating, both radiocarbon and archaeomagnetic, were used to establish the relative temporal ordering of architectural features, burials, pits, and their associated deposits as well as their chronometric position. A total of 32 radiocarbon and 176 archaeomagnetic samples was analyzed. The occupational history of the project area was divided into five temporal units, the late Preclassic (late Sacaton phase), the early Soho phase, the late Soho phase, the Civano phase, and the Polvorón phase. The late Preclassic component was dated from A-D. 1000 to 1100 or 1150; the Soho phase, AD. 1100 to about 1275; the Civano phase, from A.D. 1275 to A.D. 1350 or 1375; and the Polvron phase, from after A.D. 1350 to 1425 or 1450. Volume 2 concludes with an overview of changing site structure and land use in the project area.

Cite this Record

The Pueblo Grande Project: Feature Descriptions, Chronology, and Site Structure. Douglas R. Mitchell. 1994 ( tDAR id: 4546) ; doi:10.6067/XCV8959FP0

Temporal Coverage

Calendar Date: 1000 to 1450

Spatial Coverage

min long: -112.004; min lat: 33.428 ; max long: -111.959; max lat: 33.46 ;

Individual & Institutional Roles

Contributor(s): David R. Abbott; Michael S. Foster; Dierdre. Hungerford; J. A. Merewether; Penny Dufoe Minturn; Douglas R. Mitchell

File Information

  Name Size Creation Date Date Uploaded Access
pueblo_grande_ssi_vol-2.pdf 36.71mb Oct 16, 2010 10:43:14 AM Public