Native Peoples of the Past
The Southwest Gallery presents information on the ancient
cultures of central Arizona from the Paleoindian hunters who arrived around
13,500 years ago to the advanced irrigation systems of the Hohokam farmers
that operated until A.D. 1450. The gallery presents displays of prehistoric
artifacts and replicas of Hohokam homes excavated by museum archaeologists
in the Mesa area.
The first native people of the American Southwest are the
Paleoindian cultures, the Clovis and Folsom people who hunted the large
ice-age mammals such as the mammoth, mastadon and ground sloth. Several
famous Paleoindian sites dating from 13,500 to 10,000 years ago have been
found along the San Pedro River in southern Arizona.
The Archaic or Desert Cultures represent the longest span of
human occupation in Arizona, dating from 10,000 years ago to A.D. 1. These
peoples had an intimate knowledge of the plants and animals around them and
lived a hunting and gathering way of life. Small bands of people moved
seasonally across the landscape gathering wild plants and hunting animals.
The later prehistoric cultures in the southwest are known
for their ceramic art. The ceramic timeline dramatically displays how
ceramics changed through time in the Hohokam, Anasazi and Mogollon cultures.
The pithouse was the traditional home for a Hohokam family.
These structures were constructed in pits that were dug into the ground. The
soil surrounding the house provided insulation from the heat of the summer
and the cold of the winter months. A series of individual pithouses were
arranged around a rectangular courtyard where daily activities took place.
The Hohokam built the largest irrigation systems in the
prehistoric New World. Individual canals measured up to 45 feet across and
15 feet deep and used advanced engineering principles. By the end of the
Classic Period, circa A.D. 1450, the Hohokam used water from the Salt River
to irrigate over 110,000 acres in the phoenix area.
The displays give you the opportunity to walk though
replicas of Hohokam dwellings, and glimpse artifacts used in daily
activities, such as cotton weaving, jewelry manufacture, pottery making,
hunting activities, food preparation and storage.
Try your hand at this 3-D mammoth puzzle.
Hohokam, by Antonio Pazzi, gift of Dennis R. and Mary L. Pollard
53 N. Macdonald
Mesa, AZ 85201
(One block north of Main Street in downtown Mesa. Take US 60 or 202 to
Country Club Drive, go to Main Street, and proceed one-half mile east to