The Pueblo Grande Project: Material Culture


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 1, Introduction, Research Design, and Testing Results, presents introductory and background information as well as summaries of the research design and testing results. Also summarized are the field methods used during the excavations at Pueblo Grande.

Volume 4, Material Culture, presents studies on the ground and chipped stone assemblages (Chapters 2 and 3), intrusive ceramics (Chapter 4), marine shell artifacts (Chapter 5), miscellaneous artifacts, including spindle whorls, worked sherds and stone disks, ornaments, and figurines (Chapter 6), bone artifacts (Chapter 7), and perishable artifacts (Chapter 8). Several of the assemblages reported in this volume are the largest or among the largest from any Hohokam site yet investigated. Three appendices discuss specialized source analyses on turquoise, argillite, and obsidian. Morphological, technological, functional, and intrasite distributional studies were undertaken for most of the artifact classes analyzed.

Little evidence was found to support the notion of differential access among habitation areas to various artifact types or source materials. One exception was obsidian, where some evidence for differential access to sources was found. Additionally, there was little evidence to suggest that any of the habitation areas were loci of specialized craft production or specialized activity. The turquoise and argillite source studies demonstrated that the Pueblo Grande Hohokam imported or obtained these materials from a variety of sources, some at great distances. This is also true for obsidian; of particular note is that a greater number of obsidian sources than expected were present in Classic period contexts.

Cite this Record

The Pueblo Grande Project: Material Culture. Michael S. Foster. 1994 ( tDAR id: 4549) ; doi:10.6067/XCV8TQ60N5


Temporal Coverage

Calendar Date: 1000 to 1450

Spatial Coverage

min long: -111.997; min lat: 33.427 ; max long: -111.969; max lat: 33.47 ;

Individual & Institutional Roles

Contributor(s): Mark D. Elson; Michael S. Foster; Leslie R. Fryman; Timothy G. Gross; James N. Gunderson; Garman Harbottle; Steven R. James; Scott Kwiatkowski; Bernard Means; Jane D. Peterson; David M. Schaller; M. Steven Schackley; Tammy Stone; Phil C. Weigand

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