The Pueblo Grande Project: Ceramics and the Production and Exchange of Pottery in the Central Phoenix Basin, Part Two


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 3, Ceramics and the Production and Exchange of Pottery in the Central Phoenix Basin, represents a comprehensive analysis of the ceramic material recovered from the project. Spatial variation in plainware and redware is the primary focus of Volume 3, which also discusses Salado Polychrome. Comparatively few red-on-buff ceramics were recovered during this project, and therefore the spatial variation in the decorated pottery is not a central topic of the Pueblo Grande research. The results of the rough-sort analysis are presented in Chapter 2. Included in this volume are a petrographic analysis of temper (Chapter 3) and chemical analyses of clay fractions (Chapter 4). Chapter 5 reports on a study of the whole and reconstructible vessels recovered from the excavations. The detailed analysis of sherds from well-dated contexts is presented in Chapter 6. Chapter 7 reports on an analysis of the Salado polychrome from the project area. These chapters include technological, morphological, functional analyses, and evaluation of production costs and value. The volume concludes with a summary discussion of the results of the various analyses, and presents a revision and refinement of the ceramic typology for the Phoenix Basin.

The analyses conducted for this project demonstrated that the redware and plainware pottery from different production areas in the Phoenix Basin could be distinguished on the basis of temper type. As a result, the probable production sources for about 15,000 plainware and 4,000 redware sherds and nearly 2,000 whole pots were determined. Also, temporal variation in vessel forms and technological attributes of the ceramics from different production areas was made clearer because the spatial variation due to production area differences could be controlled. The model of ceramic production and the associated typology provided the theoretical underpinnings and the empirical procedures for a new methodology by which the interaction between Hohokam populations in the central Phoenix Basin is measured directly, quantitatively, and inexpensively. By tracing the exchange of plainware and redware pottery over distances as short as 5 km, Hohokam social organization and political complexity can be investigated with unparalleled resolution.

Cite this Record

The Pueblo Grande Project: Ceramics and the Production and Exchange of Pottery in the Central Phoenix Basin, Part Two. David R. Abbott. 1994 ( tDAR id: 4548) ; doi:10.6067/XCV8MC8XSR


Investigation Types
Data Recovery / Excavation

Geographic Keywords
Arizona Phoenix Salt River

Temporal Coverage

Calendar Date: 1000 to 1450

Spatial Coverage

min long: -111.997; min lat: 33.432 ; max long: -111.969; max lat: 33.463 ;

Individual & Institutional Roles

Contributor(s): Jane D. Peterson; David M. Schaller; Mary-Ellen Walsh-Anduze

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