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Hohokam in Arizona Build Platform Mounds

The Hohokams (the “vanished ones” in O’odham language) were Native Americans who lived in the southern parts of Arizona to the northern portions of the Mexican state of Sonora. The culture flourished between 100 BC and 1500 AD. They were the ancestors of modern day Pima people or Akimel O’odham who spoke a variant of the Uto-Aztecan language. The Hohokams were known for their innovative irrigation systems in areas that they settled, particularly the Gila and Salt River valleys. These canals allowed them to grow food that was enough to support their people and allowed them to thrive in an inhospitable environment. Their society was highly organized and complex—something which they shared with the other Southwest Culture peoples, such as the Mogollon and the Anasazi. Hohokam built Platform mounds between 1100 -1200 AD according to the Biblical Timeline with World History.

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Hohokam Platform Mounds

“Map of Hohokam and neighboring cultures, c. 1350”

The Hohokam settlements showed a distinct Mesoamerican influence, as shown in the ballcourt and platform mounds they constructed. The earliest mounds were built around 800 AD, but the majority were constructed between 1150 and 1350 AD. Platform mounds were typically rectangular in shape which covered an area of hundreds to thousands of square feet and reached up to ten feet high. Many of these earthworks can be found in Pueblo Grande, Mesa Grande, Plaza Tempe, and Tres Pueblos. As much as fifty platform mounds were discovered in thirty Hohokam villages in recent years. At the culture’s peak, there must have been around a hundred platform mounds.

The Hohokams usually built the mounds along major canals, and initially did not build structures on top. By 1250, however, the Hohokams began to build homes for their leaders and priests, as well as temples on top of the mounds. The construction of these platforms was pretty simple. The Hohokam started by building a single cell made of adobe, granite, and sandstone. Other cells would be built around it, and the structure would be filled with trash and soil. The top was covered with a natural cement made of calcium carbonate called caliche. Structures would be built on top of the finished mound. The largest mounds in the Salt River Valley reached up to 30 feet high and were as big as a football field.

Picture By YuchitownOwn work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link
Rose, D. “The Hohokam.” Ancient Indian Ruins in Arizona. February 2014.
Waldman, Carl, and Molly Braun. Encyclopedia of Native American Tribes. New York, NY: Facts on File, 1988.
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