Hohokam! Ancient Monuments of the Salt River Valley

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Hohokam Exhibit Title panel

Hohokam! Ancient Monuments of the Salt River Valley explores the accomplishments of the ancestors of the O’odham people who thrived in our arid desert environment for over a millennium, from A.D. 1 to 1450. The ancient houses, canals and ovens uncovered by archaeologists under the streets of Mesa, rarely seen by the public, are presented here. We also present many rare and unusual artifacts of Hohokam daily life and provide information recovered by recent museum excavations.




Children explore the floor of a pithouse. Pithouses served as the homes of Hohokam families. A pithouse of this style was characteristic from about A.D. 900-1150.



Mural of Mesa Grande, showing temple mound site and a Hohokam ballcourt at lower right. In the background the Salt River flows westwards. The Arizona Museum of Natural History cares for the Mesa Grande, a site on the National Register of Historic Places. The Mesa Grande mound is just greater in each dimension than a modern football field and measures 27 feet high.



The exhibit shows the network of trade and interaction between different prehistoric cultures. It presents rare and unusual items that came from places as distant as West and Central Mexico, such as copper bells and pyrite mirrors.



Hohokam are noted for their figurines, which sometimes occur in sets showing activities of daily life. Two original Hohokam figures are in bottom left of case; the others are reproductions, which illustrate how the Hohokam might have painted their prehistoric figurines for use.



The exhibit includes a reproduction of a full size earth oven or hornoHornos measure about 6 feet deep by 6 feet wide, and were used to roast agave hearts.



The Hohokam created the largest irrigation systems in the prehistoric New World. This display is based upon actual canals that the museum excavated at the site of the new Riverview development. What you see here is a prehistoric canal later filled in by sediments deposited by the water of the canal.



Can you solve the puzzles?



Archaeology is fun!