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Destination #6

Map of Arizona
Location of Museum


 
May 7
Today we dropped out of the Colorado Plateau and on to the north end of the Sonoran Desert.  The most obvious indication of our change was the presence of magnificent saguaro cactiDid you know that it takes 25 years for them to grow to be 1 foot tall and 100 years for them to sprout their first arm?  Our stop today is the Pueblo Grande Museum in the middle of the city of Phoenix.
Geology of Phoenix

 
Inhabited by the Hohokam from (at least) 1150 AD to 1450 AD, Pueblo Grande looks nothing like the Anasazi sites we have visited.  The soil here is pinkish and the masonry, if it can be called that, is rather formless and consists of river cobbles, chunks of hardened calich, and granite and sandstone blocks set in mortar.  The remnants of structures are on top of a great mound measuring 45 metres wide, 90 metres long, and 7.5 metres high.  Supposedly, important structures were built on top of the mound but most of the people lived in pithouses surrounding the mound.  The Hohokam were great farmers with crops of corn, beans, squash, and cotton.  They had extensive irrigation systems with more than 1600 km of canals.  As well, there are features known as "ball courts" which are believed to have been used for ceremonial ball games.  There are more than 200 ball courts in the Southwest.

The museum is really quite nice, despite being surrounded by a city.  One of the features I quite appreciated was its collection of living specimens of local vegetation including ocotillo, creosote bush, mesquite trees, and palo verde trees.


 
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