Saturday, June 30, 2012

Pueblo Grande: The Real Old Phoenix

Once upon a time, when the Salt River ran down out of the mountains and into the valley that now holds the thriving city of Phoenix, the ancient Hohokam built an extraordinary complex of villages tied together by a large series of irrigation canals.  Pueblo Grande (large village or town) was one of the central settlements in the valley.  It is located near the present day Sky Harbor Airport and the planes seem to be tracking across your field of vision constantly as you walk in the compound.

Pueblo Grande is not only right in the city, but it is a practical size to explore.  It has been carefully excavated and restored and there is a modern air conditioned museum, shop, and theatre to retire to if the heat becomes a bit too much.

The trail out from the museum leads you around the base of the football field sized platform mound, which dates to around 1450 ACE. It was probably the ceremonial and administrative center of the community.

You then circle out to a later adobe Hohokam house replica from about 1300 ACE.

Further on is a small group of earlier pithouse replicas dating from around 950 ACE

A close up shows their low entrance area.

From there you curve past an excavated ball court that was used from around 750 ACE to 1200 ACE.  There are many of these in Mexico but not many in the American Southwest.

Then you pass a small garden plot that is used to demonstrate Hohokam irrigation methods. Note the stone used to block the flow when enough water had passed into that section.

And finally the path winds up to the top of the ceremonial platform mound

where you can survey the entire village

A painting inside the museum gives you an excellent idea of how the whole complex might have looked in its heyday.  You can see the Salt River flowing in the background.

Today on the top of the mound you can only see some of the outlines of ancient rooms and storage areas.

 When you are finished with your walk you can return to comfort of the museum to cool off a bit before returning to your car. 

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