Collection Description

Tradition Name


Tradition Description

The Hohokam tradition extends from 2000 to 500 BP (AD 1-1500) in southern and central Arizona of the United States. The Hohokam were desert farmers who built irrigation canals with communal labor. They had distinctive red-on-buff ceramics, worked marine shell, turquoise inlay, clay effigies, and ground stone palettes and censers. Interregional trade included raw materials and finished goods. Settlement hierarchies included primary and secondary ritual and administrative centers along with smaller communities and hamlets. Their larger primary and secondary settlements included house compounds, trash mounds, ballcourts, capped trash mounds, plazas, and platform mounds. They were governed by chiefdoms and priesthoods and by the end of the tradition may even have had small states.


Select the Tradition Summary link above for a longer description of the culture.


North America --Southwest and Basin


United States

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Collection Overview
SYNOPSIS Documents referred to in this section are included in the eHRAF collection and are referenced by author, date of publication, and eHRAF document number. The documents discuss the Hohokam tradition in south central Arizona in the United States from around 2300 BP-500 BP (300 BC- AD 1500). This is outside the absolute date for the Hohokam due to Haury's dating Snaketown to 2300 BP-600 BP (300 BC-AD 1400). Several documents provide overviews of the Hohokam tradition. One the best places to start is The Hohokam Millennium, edited by Fish and Fish (2007, nos. 89-107). It was written for nonarchaeologists. Rather than a bibliography it contains a listing of suggested readings (Fish and Fish 2007, no. 89). The various maps and plates mentioned in the book are found in Fish and Fish (2007, no. 107). The book starts with a brief summary of the Hohokam by Fish and Fish (2007, no. 90). Wallace (2007, no. 91) follows with a description of one of the earliest Hohokam sites, Valencia Vieja, in the Tucson area. To further orient the reader Crown (2007, no. 92) writes about Hohokam daily life from birth to death. The other end of the spectrum is provided by Lopez (2007, no. 103), a modern descendant of the Hohokam, who writes about what the modern Tohono O'odham think about the ancient Hohokam. Households and communities are discussed by Craig and Henderson (2007, no. 93) and Fish and Fish (2007, no. 94). Changing settlement patterns and the irrigation canals of the middle Gila river valley are summarized by Ravesloot (2007, no. 100). Settlement patterns in the San Pedro valley of southeastern Arizona and the changes that occurred from migrations from the north are explored by Clark (2007, no. 101). The Hohokam were also influenced by and interacted with peoples from northern Mexico. McGuire and Villalpando (2007, no. 96) describe some of these influences. Whittlesley (2007, no. 97) uses ceramics for their insight into Hohokam religious beliefs. Other Hohokam crafts are described by Bayman (2007, no. 98). Doyel (2007, no. 99) discusses production specialists and the emergence of chiefs. Oral histories from modern O'odham were both used by Bahr (2007, no. 104) and Darling and Lewis (2007, no. 105) to help understand the Hohokam. The site of Snaketown along the Gila river in the Phoenix Basin was excavated in the 1960s by Gladwin (1965, nos. 55, 69, and 74) and Haury (1965, nos. 57-59, 63-66, 68, 70, 72, and 73; and 1976, nos. 2, 4, and 13). Each had slightly different opinions about what the data revealed. Many others collaborated with Gladwin and Haury on the Snaketown excavations. Mapping and remote sensing of the site were conducted by Gell (1976, no. 3) and Bergh (1976, no. 5) respectively. Cutler and Blake (1976, no. 6) examined the maize found at Snaketown. Various faunal analyses were conducted by Greene and Mathews (1976, no. 7), McKusick (1976, no. 8), Minckley (1976, no. 10), and Olsen (1976, no. 9). Human remains and burial practices are discussed by Bennett (1976, no. 12), Birkby (1976, no. 11), and Sayles (1965, no. 61). Sayles (1965, no. 60) discusses domestic architecture and while some of the various artifacts uncovered are described by Sayles (1965, nos. 62 and 67), Root (1965, no. 76) and McLeod (1965, no. 77). The bibliography for Gladwin et al.'s book, "Excavations at Snaketown," is a separate document (Gladwin et al. 1965, no. 53). Another excavation report that focuses on a single place discusses the Hodges site near Tucson. The site was excavated in the 1930s and the site report was completed in the 1970s (Kelly et al. 1978, no. 14). Several authors discuss previous archaeological work in southern Arizona on Hohokam villages including Doyel (1987, no. 17), Gladwin (1965, no. 56), Doelle (2007, no. 102), and McGuire (1991, no. 142). Gumerman (1991, no. 135 and 2007, no. 106) further includes in his discussion how the concept of "Hohokam" has changed since the first archaeological excavations and summarizes the changes within the Hohokam tradition. McGuire (1991, no. 142) expands this discussion to explore the history of the hypothesis of a Hohokam core and periphery and how it has affected archaeology in northern Sonora in Mexico. There are many studies on architecture including the diagnostic architecture of ball courts and platform mounds. Doelle et al. (1995, no. 44) examine Classic period platform mounds on a regional scale with a list of known platform mounds provided in Doelle (1995, no. 51).  Other authors examining platform mounds include Rice (1998, no. 129), Gregory (1987, no. 24), and Elson (2000, no. 120). Elson (2007, no. 95) examines both platform mounds and ballcourts; while Wilcox and Sternberg (1983, no. 15) concentrate on ballcourts. Domestic architecture and settlement patterns are explored in Clark (1995, no. 40), Sires, Jr. (1987, no. 23), and Gregory (1995, nos. 36 and 47). The Hohokam depended on their ceramics and their importance to their society is reflected in several documents that focus on ceramics. Abbott (2000, no. 1) uses ceramic data to examine the social relationships of the Hohokam in the Phoenix Basin. Other studies from the site of Snaketown in the Phoenix Basin, including chemical analyses of the probable food remains within some of the pots, were conducted by Gladwin et al. (1965, no. 75), Gladwin (1965, no. 71), and Hawley (1965, no. 78). Ceramics were used to understand households in the Tonto Basin (Wallace 1995, nos. 35 and 46). For the Marana area north of Tucson there are Szuter's (1992, no. 85) study on early ceramics, Doelle et al.'s (1987, no. 19) and Henderson's (1987, no. 151) studies on Rincon phase ceramics, and Harry's (2000, no. 114) look at specialized ceramic production. The Hohokam that lived in the northern Tucson basin differed from their neighbors in the Phoenix Basin. These differences were the original focus of the field work in the Marana community. Two books describe the field work there and are found in documents nos. 79-88 and 147-160. References for these documents are found in Fish et al (1992, no 79) for documents nos. 79-88 and Rice (1987, no. 147) for documents nos. 147-160. Fish et al. (1992, no. 80) provide an introduction to the first collection (document nos. 79-88) and describe early sites (1992, no. 81) and how the Marana community evolved (1992, no. 82). Fish and Fish (1992, no. 88) compare Marana to other Hohokam communities. Agriculture and how and where it might have been conducted in this desert environment is the focus of Fish et al. (1992, no. 83) and Field (1992, no. 84). Agave cultivation in particular can be found in Fish et al. (1992, no. 86) and Van Buren et al. (1992, no. 87). Rice (1987, nos. 148 and 160) describes the Classic period Hohokam community of Marana and Henderson et al. (1987, no. 149) provide an environmental context. Settlement patterns and land use are discussed by Walters (1987, no. 150) and Fish (1987, no. 159). Households and economic specialization are explored by Rice (1987, no. 152) and Kisselburg (1987, no. 153). Floral and faunal analyses are provided by Fish (1987, no. 154), James (1987, no. 155), and Miksicek (1987, no. 156). Shackley (1987, no. 157) sourced some of the obsidian artifacts. The cremated remains were analyzed by Morris and Brooks (1987, no. 158). A later work by Doelle and Wallace (1991, no. 141) also examines the variation between the Tucson and Phoenix basins. The Tonto Basin is outside the core area for the Hohokam tradition, but it was influenced by and it influenced the Hohokam, especially in the Phoenix Basin. Two collections discuss the fieldwork that occurred in the Tonto Basin for the Bureau of Reclamation prior to modifying the dam and raising the water level in Roosevelt lake (documents nos. 31-50 and 122-134). References for these two collections can be found in Elson et al. (1995, no. 31) for documents nos. 32-50 and Rice (1998, no. 122) for documents no. 123-134. Background information on the two collections and their fieldwork is provided by Stark and Elson (1995, no. 32) for documents nos. 32-50 and by Rice and Lincoln (1988, no. 123) for documents nos. 123-132. The chronology for the lower or eastern Tonto basin can be found in Elson (1995, no. 33) and Elson and Gregory (1995, no. 34). A description of the environmental setting is found in Rice (1998, no. 125). The economy of the area can begin to be understood by reading Craig (1995, no. 39), Stark (1995, no. 41), and Rice et al. (1998, no. 128). Articles on settlement patterns and land use are found in Rice et al. (1998, no. 126) and Rice and Oliver (1998, no. 127). Settlement data is often used to arrive at population levels. Doelle (1995, no. 38) not only calculates population levels for the Tonto basin but also for south central Arizona. Migration and various kinds of cultural contact greatly influenced archaeological record in the Tonto basin. These issues and more are discussed by Stark et al. (1995, no. 42), Clark (1995, no. 43), and Rice (1998, nos. 124 and 133). Discussion and analysis of the human remains and other mortuary data can be found in Turner II (1998, nos. 130 and131) and Loendorf (1998, no. 132). Elson et al. (1995, no. 45) synthesizes and summarizes the findings from the Roosevelt Community Development Study. Appendices, mostly data tables, for the two collections are found in Ferg (1995, no. 48), Doelle (1995, no. 49), Craig (1995, no. 50), and Rice (1998, no. 134). Lastly, as with most archaeological field work, there was a site that was mostly outside the Hohokam tradition. Ferg (1995, no. 37) describes this Hohokam and Western Apache site. Documents nos. 16-29 were originally from papers given at the 1985 American Association for the Advancement of Science meetings. The purpose of the symposium was to show the science that could be produced from contract field archaeology. Doyel (1987, no. 16) provides the references to documents nos. 17-29. Cable and Doyel (1987, no. 18) discuss Pueblo Patricio in downtown Phoenix, an early Hohokam village. Three papers focused on the site of La Cuidad in the Phoenix basin: Henderson (1987, no. 20), Rice (1987, no. 21), and Kisselburg (1987, no. 22). Howard (1987, no. 25) examined the Classic period Lehi canal system in Mesa, Arizona. Wilcox (1987, no. 26) re-examines the data from the site of Palo Parado in southern Arizona; a site originally excavated in the 1950s. The last papers contain comments from the discussants at the symposium: Haury (1987, no. 27), Dean (1987, no. 28), and Fish (1987, no. 29). The Hohokam village and its organization are the focus of documents nos. 108-121. This book starts with Doyel and Fish (2000, no 108) writing a short synopsis of Hohokam cultural history and discussing current research topics. Next Ciolek-Torrello, Klucas, and Whittlesey (2000, no. 110) examine how household organization changed in the lower Verde river valley of central Arizona. Doyel (2000, no. 111) compares how villages differed along the lower Gila river when compared with the Phoenix basin, especially when examining sites with public architecture. Craig (2000, no. 112) uses population estimates from the Grewe site to understand population size at other large Hohokam sites as Craig feels that population estimates are usually underestimated. Howard (2000, no 113) applies quantitative techniques to examine village segments; those areas that are made up of clustered residential and refuse disposal areas, cemeteries, and plazas. Fish and Fish (2000, no. 116) examine increasing political and social complexity during the early Classic period within the context of the multi-site community of Marana. In document no. 121 Fish and Fish (2000) examine the development of kinship organization and "civic-territorial" institutions. And finally, Rice and Redman (2000, no. 119) describe three different settlement strategies that are found concomitantly within the Payson and Tonto basins of central Arizona. Chronological issues are dealt with in the documents discussed below. Mabry (2000, no. 109) discusses the Red Mountain phase in the Phoenix basin in terms of the development of early Hohokam agricultural villages. Doyel (2000, no. 115) argues for the existence of and the continued use of the Santan phase as it helps to explain the trends that occurred between the Late Formative and the Classic periods in the Phoenix basin. The Polvorón phase is and its validity is discussed by Chenault (2000, no. 117) and Henderson and Hackbarth (2000, no. 118). Dean (1991, no. 137) examines the different chronologies used for the Hohokam. The last set of documents are from an edited volume that covers a wide range of topics on the Hohokam. Fish and Nabhan (1991, no. 136) discuss how the environment influenced the Hohokam. Fish and Fish (1991, no. 138) examine Hohokam social and political organization. Neitzel (1991, no. 139) examines how material culture studies can contribute to an understanding of organizational change. Doyel (1991, no. 140) discusses the evolutionary changes that occurred to the Hohokam of the Phoenix basin. Crown (1991, no. 143) examines Hohokam exchange and interaction with their neighbors. Gasser and Kwiatkowski (1991, no. 144) discusses the varied subsistence patterns used by the Hohokam in response to subtle differences in their environment. And lastly, Feinman (1991, no. 145) identifies key issues of debate. For further information on individual works in this collection, see the abstracts in the citations preceding each document.
Overview by

Sarah Berry

Agave – for unspecified use, - use "SPECIAL CROPS (249)"

Agriculture – unspecified agriculture or when discussing the Hohokam staples of corn, beans, squash, and cotton, - use "AGRICULTURE (240)"

Ak Chin – farming on alluvial fans, - use "TILLAGE (241)"

Assemblages – Usually referring to the tools, utensils, and other equipment used by a household and its archaeological features such as hearths - use "TOOLS AND APPLIANCES (410)"

Bajada – slope, inclination, hang, descent, or drop, - use "TOPOGRAPHY AND GEOLOGY (133)"

Ball games - use "ATHLETIC SPORTS (526)"

Ballcourt community - use "RECREATIONAL STRUCTURES (345)" with "SETTLEMENT PATTERNS (361)"

Burned structures – when not specified that the structure was burned as part of a death ritual - use "DISASTERS (731)"

Canal systems – "A canal system is composed of one or more main canals with a common headgate location, a weir for diverting the river water into each canal, the dentritic layout of shallower and narrower ditches that split from the main lines, and the cultivated plots and dwellings located along the canal routes." (Abbott 2000, no, 1, page 23), use "WATER SUPPLY (312)" and/or "SETTLEMENT PATTERNS (361);" when using the term to refer to water rights, administration or management of the irrigation or canal network use "REAL PROPERTY (423);" when discussing canal construction, maintenance including cleaning, or repair use "WATERWAYS IMPROVEMENTS (503)"

Ceremonial precincts – public structures usually in the form of council chambers - use "PUBLIC STRUCTURES (344)"

Censers a container for burning incense. Use "PRAYERS AND SACRIFICES (782)"

Comales – flat, baked clay griddles, - use "UTENSILS (415)"

Communal gatherings - use "SOCIAL RELATIONSHIPS AND GROUPS (571)"

Compounds - as household/residential units - use "HOUSEHOLD (592);" as

settlement patterns, - use "SETTLEMENT PATTERNS (361)"

Compound walls - use "GROUNDS (351)"

Comunidades – a unit of territory and local administration - use "TERRITORIAL HIERARCHY (631)"

Courtyard groups – a residential compound consisting of the residence of an extended household segment, including their house, storage and food processing structures, - use "HOUSEHOLD (592)", and/or "SETTLEMENT PATTERNS (361)"

Courtyards - use "GROUNDS (351)"

Cremations - use "BURIAL PRACTICES AND FUNERALS (764)"

Etched Shell – shell that has had an acidic liquid applied to create designs on it. The acidic liquid may have been the fermented juice of the fruit from the saguaro cactus. Use "BONE, HORN, AND SHELL TECHNOLOGY (321)"

Forteleza – a fortified hill site,  - use "MILITARY INSTALLATIONS (712)" with "SETTLEMENT PATTERNS (361)"

Hornos – ovens, as a structure, - use "HEATING AND LIGHTING EQUIPMENT (354)" and/or "FOOD PREPARATION (252)"

House clusters - use "SETTLEMENT PATTERNS (361)"

Integrative feature/integrative structure – structures or features, often mounds, that were used to bring a community together, probably through the use of public ceremonies - use "PUBLIC STRUCTURES (344)"

Irrigation community – an irrigation system or canal system shared by several communities -, use "WATER SUPPLY (312)" and/or "SETTLEMENT PATTERNS (361);" when using the term to refer to water rights, administration or management of the irrigation or canal network use "REAL PROPERTY (423)"

Jacal – a thatched roof hut with walls made of upright poles or sticks covered and chinked with mud or clay - use "DWELLINGS (342)"

Lac – Lac is the bright red secretion from several species of insects. Use "PAINT AND DYE MANUFACTURE (386)"

Local systems – a political unit above the community level but lower than the regional network - use "TERRITORIAL HIERARCHY (631)"

Molcajetes – a stone tool used to grind various types of food, similar to a mortar and pestle - use "FOOD PREPARATION (252)" with "UTENSILS (415)"

Mosaic and/or painted plaques - use "ORNAMENT (301)"

Mounds, unspecified – mounds whose use is unknown and which may have been used for dwellings, public structures, or religious structures [from NU76 West Mexico Postclassic indexing notes by S. Berry] - use "STRUCTURES (340)", and/or "ARCHITECTURE (341);" mound location(s) - use "MISCELLANEOUS FACILITIES (368);" for tower mounds - use "MISCELLANEOUS STRUCTURES (349)"

Pahos – prayer sticks, - use "PRAYERS AND SACRIFICES (782)"

Palettes - for mixing colors, - use "PAINT AND DYE MANUFACTURE (386);" for cosmetic use - use "PERSONAL GROOMING (302)"

Petate – matting – use "MATS AND BASKETRY (285)"

Polishing Stone – a stone used in ceramic manufacture to smooth and polish the pot. Use "GENERAL TOOLS (412)"

Pot Rests – see Trivets

Ring Site, structures, - use "RELIGIOUS AND EDUCATIONAL STRUCTURES (346)"

Rockpile Fields – Fields with piles of locally occurring rocks used in agave cultivation. Use "SPECIAL CROPS (249)"

S-shaped clubs - use "LITHIC INDUSTRIES (324)" with "VISUAL ARTS (5311)"

Secondary cremation burial - use "MOURNING (765)"

Stone Rings – a ring-shaped stone that may have been used in the ball game. Use "LITHIC INDUSTRIES (324)" with "ATHLETIC SPORTS (526)"

Suprahousehold units – see village segments

Supraresidential cooperative – "a postulated set of closely cooperating residence groups" (Abbott 2000, no. 1, page 183) – use "COOPERATIVE ORGANIZATION (474)" with "HOUSEHOLD (592)"

Tower mounds - use "MISCELLANEOUS STRUCTURES (349)"

Trincheras – defensive trenches - use "MILITARY INSTALLATIONS (712)." It is also used to mean a terraced area for domestic or agricultural use- use "SETTLEMENT PATTERNS (361)"

Trivets – small, rather round balls of clay found near hearths and probably used to secure or elevate pots during cooking - use "MISCELLANEOUS HARDWARE (414)"

Turquoise, presence or its use in an archaeological site - use "SPECIAL DEPOSITS (317)"

Village segments – circular arrays of clustered pithouses, trash pits, and burials around communal-use areas containing large earth ovens, - use "SETTLEMENT PATTERNS (361)"

Indexing Notes by

Sarah Berry

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