Hohokam Traditions and Lifestyles

Illustration of Hohokam playing ball in a ball court by Michael Hampshire.

Aerial Photograph of Pueblo Grande platform mound.
Illustration of a Hohokam platform mound at Pueblo Grande by Michael Hampshire.

Between A.D. 450 and 1150, Hohokam homes were “pit houses.” People dug shallow pits and built houses inside. Wooden wall posts and roof beams formed structures that were covered with grass and adobe. These houses were arranged in courtyard groups, such that doorways faced each other and opened onto a common central area. By 1150, people were building rooms above ground. The rooms were connected by walls that enclosed adjacent courtyard spaces. Archaeologists refer to these constructions as compounds.

Prehistoric Hohokam Canals in the Phoenix area.

At some Hohokam villages dating between A.D. 700 and 1100, people created sunken ballcourts. Watching or participating in ball games brought people together, and provided opportunities to visit with friends and family and trade raw materials and finished goods, such as pottery vessels. By 1200, people had begun building rectangular, straight-sided, flat-topped structures called platform mounds. Rituals conducted on top of platform mounds were visible to spectators below.

Throughout their long occupation of the area, the Hohokam practiced intensive irrigation agriculture. The network of irrigation canals in the Phoenix area was the largest and most complex in ancient North America.

Illustration of Hohokam Pithouse. Reconstructed Hohokam pithouses at Pueblo Grande. Reconstructed Hohokam compound at Pueblo Grande. Artist's rendering of Hohokam tending canals.

Puzzle Pieces

This online exhibit was created in partnership with Pueblo Grande Museum, and is made possible by grants from the National Science Foundation.

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