Thursday, March 29, 2007

That's ancient history

[Source: Emily Seftel, Arizona Republic] -- In a city where you're practically a native if you moved here before 1990, where historical neighborhoods are mere decades old, you can be excused for thinking the Valley lacks true historical context. But if you know where to look, the area has roots that go back not hundreds, but thousands of years. And you'll find that evidence just a few miles east of downtown Phoenix at Pueblo Grande Museum. The archaeological site and museum is dedicated to preserving and interpreting the culture of the Hohokam, who lived in the Salt River Valley for more than 1,000 years, then packed up and left. An ancient platform mound dominates the grounds. At one time the mound stood more than 25 feet tall and was encircled by an 8-foot-tall adobe wall. Visitors can go to the top to see rooms and walls uncovered through excavations and learn more about Hohokam life and culture.

On a recent Thursday morning, the museum was almost empty, save for a couple of dozen schoolchildren on a field trip. "Isn't it incredible that this is in the middle of the city?" said one chaperone, gesturing toward the mound. "I never knew about this." That's a common reaction, says Renee Aguilar, who works for visitor services. As a stop for commercial tours, the museum attracts plenty of out-of-town visitors. But residents are often surprised to learn of it. "It's the most common thing we hear - 'I've lived here 20, 30, 40 years and never knew this was here,' " Aguilar said. "Or people say they drive by all the time and never noticed it. They're surprised at what's here." [Note: To read the full article, click here.]