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The Hohokam People  (300 B.C. to 1450 A.D.)


The Hohokam peoples migrated from northern Mexico into southern Arizona around 300 B.C., bringing with them elements of Mesoamerican art culture, farming techniques, ball courts, and artistic designs.  Soon after arriving they became the most skilled farmers of the Southwest.  Using only stone implements, they developed an elaborate irrigation network.  They were creative artisans famous for their intricate work with shells obtained from the Gulf of California and the Pacific coast and pottery decorated with geometric designs, reminiscent of both Anasazi and Mesoamerican influence, actively trading their wares with their neighbors, the Anasazi and the Mogollon.  The Hohokam built pit houses of wattle-and-daub construction, grouped around a common plaza. Remnants of Hohokam dwellings listed below are similar to other Pueblo Indian dwellings. 

The Hohokam culture vanished in the 15th century, their disappearance remaining a mystery to archeologists.  When the Spanish arrived in Arizona they discovered the Hohokam’s descendents, Pima-speaking Indians still using the ancient Hohokam irrigation techniques.  Some of their original irrigation canals are still being used in the Phoenix area today.  Here is a list of links for the most famous Hohokam ruins:


Mesa Grande Ruins — Mesa, Arizona. 

Casa Grande Ruins National Monument  — Coolidge, Arizona

Pueblo Grande Museum Archeological Park — Phoenix, Arizona. 

Indian Mesa  Peoria, Arizona

Painted Rock Petroglyph Site  Theba, Arizona


The cup, itself, shown below is based upon Mesa Verde (Anasazi) design) but illustrates the rock art dancing figures associated with Hohokam ritual and myth.


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    Hohokam Rock Art   Artist’s interpretation (20th Century)     Back to Top             

      (Circa 600 A.D.) 


The Mesa Verde People (600 A.D. to 1300 A.D.)


The Anasazi of Mesa Verde, Colorado, built cliff dwellings, which rank as the best-preserved archeological sites in the United States.  After arriving atop the mesa in 600 A.D., they began to build villages there made of adobe, but didn’t begin constructing cliff-dwellings until the late twelfth century.  The dwellings were constructed inside cliff grottos and beneath outcroppings.  The structures ranged in size from one-room storage units to villages of more than 150 rooms.  The Cliff Palace listed below is the largest cliff dwelling in North America.  They were mainly subsistence farmers, growing crops on nearby mesas.  Their primary crop was corn, which was the major part of their diet.  To supplement their diet, the Hohokam men were also hunters. The women of the Anasazi are famous for their elegant  basket weaving.  Anasazi pottery, probably a family industry, is as famous as their baskets, and their wares are highly prized.  While still farming the mesa tops, the Anasazi continued to reside in the alcoves, repairing, remodeling, and constructing new rooms for nearly a century. By the late 13th century, however, these ancestors of the later Pueblo Indians began migrating south into present-day New Mexico and Arizona.  Five of the most impressive cliff dwelling sites include:  


Balcony House

Cliff Palace 

Long House 

Spruce Tree House 

Step House 


The artistic interpretation of Anasazi mugs shown below, based upon cups made in the 13th century, represents the exceptional artistic expression of the Mesa Verde people.  Mesa Verde pottery typically featured black geometric patterns applied with a yucca paintbrush on a grayish white background. These patterns were remarkable for their balance and design.  The Anasazi experimented with adding a tempering material such as sand or finely ground grit from the region to keep pottery from cracking as it dried. The pottery was then fired and decorated using dye from Beeweed, which satisfied both utilitarian and aesthetic uses.









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