Monday, July 24, 2006

Late-period Hohokam site explored near Queen Creek

[Source: Srianthi Perera, Arizona Republic] -- For three years, experts have quietly excavated the remains of dozens of Hohokams in Queen Creek in what could be one of the latest settlements of the mysterious desert dwellers ever identified. Archaeologists have done exploratory work in the Power Ranch area since the 1930s, but recent dating has put the Germann site complex, as it's known, toward the end of a rarely explored Hohokam era, preliminarily dated between 1400 and 1450. Hohokams are believed to have inhabited the Sonoran Desert between 500 and 1450 before they abruptly disappeared.

Toward the end of its existence, the society appeared to break down, with the economy and culture falling apart as the population dwindled, according to experts. The Hohokam had used up natural resources, such as firewood and plants, and had exhausted prime farming soil. But while scholars believe that after 1350 or so, the population of Hohokam declined, "we seem to have a pretty thriving location" in Queen Creek, said Banks Leonard, senior project director for Soil Systems Inc., a Phoenix archaeology company. "Nonetheless, it was abandoned, too, eventually." Leonard said the Hohokam way of life "had a negative impact on the environment," even though they appeared to be in touch with the land. "It may be one of the latest Hohokam settlements that have been identified," Leonard said. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]