FROM ARCHAEOLOGY TO IDEOLOGY IN NORTHWEST MEXCIO:

FROM ARCHAEOLOGY TO IDEOLOGY IN NORTHWEST MEXCIO:
FROM ARCHAEOLOGY TO IDEOLOGY IN NORTHWEST MEXCIO:
CERRO DE MOCTEZUMA IN THE CASAS GRANDES RITUAL LANDSCAPE
by
Todd Pitezel
_____________________
Copyright © Todd Pitezel 2011
A Dissertation Submitted to the Faculty of the
SCHOOL OF ANTHROPOLOGY
In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements
For the Degree of
DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY
In the Graduate College
THE UNIVERSITY OF ARIZONA
2011
2
THE UNIVERSITY OF ARIZONA
GRADUATE COLLEGE
As members of the Dissertation Committee, we certify that we have read the dissertation
prepared by Todd Pitezel
entitled From Archaeology to Ideology in Northwest Mexcio: Cerro de Moctezuma in the
Casas Grandes Ritual Landscape
and recommend that it be accepted as fulfilling the dissertation requirement for the
Degree of Doctor of Philosophy
_______________________________________________________________________
Date: 10/1/2010
Suzanne K. Fish
_______________________________________________________________________
Date: 10/1/2010
Paul R. Fish
_______________________________________________________________________
Date: 10/1/2010
Barbara J. Mills
_______________________________________________________________________
Date: 10/1/2010
J. Jefferson Reid
_______________________________________________________________________
Date: 10/1/2010
Thomas E. Sheridan
Final approval and acceptance of this dissertation is contingent upon the candidate’s
submission of the final copies of the dissertation to the Graduate College.
I hereby certify that I have read this dissertation prepared under my direction and
recommend that it be accepted as fulfilling the dissertation requirement.
________________________________________________ Date: 10/1//2010
Dissertation Director: Suzanne K. Fish
3
STATEMENT BY AUTHOR
This dissertation has been submitted in partial fulfillment of requirements for an
advanced degree at the University of Arizona and is deposited in the University Library
to be made available to borrowers under rules of the Library.
Brief quotations from this dissertation are allowable without special permission, provided
that accurate acknowledgment of source is made. Requests for permission for extended
quotation from or reproduction of this manuscript in whole or in part may be granted by
the copyright holder.
SIGNED: Todd Pitezel
4
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
Suzanne K. Fish chaired my dissertation committee. Paul R. Fish, Barbara J.
Mills, J. Jefferson Reid, and Thomas E. Sheridan served as dissertation committee
members. I am always grateful for their discussion and extraordinary willingness to help
me across the line when the moment came.
Dissertation research was supported by a National Science Foundation
Dissertation Improvement Grant (BCS-0531262) and funding from the Emil Haury
Educational Fund, the Raymond H. Thompson Fellowship Endowment, Reicker Grant,
the Arizona Archaeological and Historical Society, and the Fred Plog Memorial
Fellowship.
Michael E. Whalen (University of Tulsa) and Paul E. Minnis (University of
Oklahoma) generously shared settlement and artifact data; and Steve Swanson kindly
shared hill site data to help make part of this dissertation possible. I alone am responsible
for any inaccurate use or interpretation of their data.
I am indebted to those who freely labored for me at Cerro de Moctezuma for one
day or several weeks: Beth Bagwell, Michael Boley, Jessica Cerezo, Jeff Charest, James
Clanahan, Karla Cordova, Daina Dajevskis, Jon Dowling, Jennifer Gutzeit, Emily Jones,
Heather Kehres, Leonard Kemp, Lauren Kingston, Art MacWilliams, Dave Mehalic,
Keith Mendez, Matt Pailes, Estee Rivera, Tom Robinson, Jennifer Sandretto, Kari
Schmidt, Adam Searcy, Mike Searcy, Elizabeth Toney.
From free labor in the field to countless lunches in Tucson where we considered
what Casas Grandes meant and means and how Cerro de Moctezuma fits into that.
Thank you, Art.
I would be thoughtless if I did not thank Mike “Mago” Whalen, Paul “Sr.
Ciencia” Minnis, and Paul Fish for the day of backfilling. I am sure that it is not often
that your mentors become your willing slaves. Suzy, labored in other ways. Always
encouraging and challenging, I have benefited from her deep reservoir of knowledge and
remarkable, unending patience.
Mago y Sr. Ciencia introduced me to Casas Grandes and gave me opportunities
that few students are able to enjoy. There is simply no way to describe the circumstances
of unparalleled generosity Suzy and Paul provided since I arrived in Tucson to start this
journey.
5
to
dad and mom
6
TABLE OF CONTENTS
LIST OF FIGURES ...........................................................................................................10
LIST OF TABLES .............................................................................................................13
ABSTRACT.......................................................................................................................15
CHAPTER 1 – TOWARD A NEW UNDERSTANDING OF CERRO DE
MOCTEZUMA AND THE CASAS GRANDES RITUAL LANDSCAPE .....................17
CERRO DE MOCTEZUMA .................................................................................................19
OVERVIEW OF THE INVESTIGATIVE APPROACH ..............................................................20
ORGANIZATION OF THE DISSERTATION ..........................................................................22
CHAPTER 2 – A VIEW OF THE PAST AND PRESENT STATE OF THE
CASAS GRANDES MEDIO PERIOD .............................................................................25
CASAS GRANDES CHRONOLOGY ....................................................................................26
ENVIRONMENTAL SETTING.............................................................................................29
CASAS GRANDES SETTLEMENT ......................................................................................31
PREVIOUS CASAS GRANDES STUDIES .............................................................................33
Paquimé ....................................................................................................................33
Near and Far Organization around Paquimé ..........................................................37
The Near Hinterland ..............................................................................................37
The Far Hinterland .................................................................................................43
Shamans, Cults, Ball Courts, and Hilltop Features .................................................46
SUMMARY ......................................................................................................................49
CHAPTER 3 – SETTING THE THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK .................................51
LANDSCAPE ....................................................................................................................52
RITUALIZATION AND RELIGION ......................................................................................55
CRAFTING AND MOVING THROUGH THE LANDSCAPE .....................................................59
Placecrafting, Trails, and Shrines of Engagement ...................................................59
Pilgrimage.................................................................................................................63
ARCHAEOLOGY AND ETHNOGRAPHY OF HILL USE IN MEXICO AND THE
SOUTHWEST UNITED STATES .........................................................................................67
ARCHITECTURE ..............................................................................................................71
A THEORETICAL FOCUS ON CERRO DE MOCTEZUMA .....................................................72
CHAPTER 4 – CERRO DE MOCTEZUMA’S UPLAND FIELDS, CORRIODORS OF
MOVEMENT, AND CROWING PRECINCT .................................................................74
CERRO DE MOCTEZUMA’S FIELDS OF POWER .................................................................74
CASAS GRANDES TRAILS................................................................................................79
TRAIL SURVEY METHODOLOGY AT CERRO DE MOCTEZUMA .........................................80
7
TABLE OF CONTENTS – Continued
CONNECTING PEOPLE AND PLACE: CERRO DE MOCTEZUMA’S TRAILS AND
WAYSIDE FEATURES ......................................................................................................83
Two North Entrance Trails .......................................................................................85
Trail 112 with Wayside Feature 93 ........................................................................85
Trail 113 .................................................................................................................86
Five West Entrance Trails ........................................................................................87
Trail 114 with Wayside Features 100, 101, 121, and 137 .....................................87
Trails 116 and 138 with Wayside Features 122, 123, 124, 126, 127, and 128 ......89
Trail 110 and Wayside Feature 99 .........................................................................93
Trail 111 .................................................................................................................93
One South Entrance Trail .........................................................................................94
Trail 117 with Wayside Feature 102 ......................................................................94
The Atalaya Trail (Trail 106) ...................................................................................94
The Tunnel Trail and Hillside Tunnel.......................................................................95
MEDIO PERIOD USE OF TRAILS.......................................................................................96
CERRO DE MOCTEZUMA’S TRAILS AND WAYSIDE FEATURES IN CONTEXT ....................98
A UNIQUE INVESTMENT: THE ATALAYA ATOP CERRO DE MOCTEZUMA ........................99
Introduction and Research Methodology..................................................................99
Describing and Excavating the Ostentatious Ritual Precinct ................................101
SUMMARY ....................................................................................................................105
CHAPTER 5 – DISCOVERING AND EXCAVATING EL PUEBLITO ......................108
ARCHITECTURE OF POWER IN ADOBE ...........................................................................111
Estimating Number of Rooms .................................................................................115
ROCK-IN-ADOBE ...........................................................................................................116
ESOTERIC KNOWLEDGE IN RUBBLE CORE MASONRY...................................................117
Isolated Rubble Core Masonry Structures ..............................................................120
West-central Rubble Core Masonry Structures ......................................................121
North Rubble Core Masonry Structures .................................................................126
Northeast Cliff Rubble Core Masonry Structures ...................................................127
The Massive Ruble Core Masonry Wall .................................................................129
UNTYPICAL COMPONENTS OF SETTLEMENT COMPOSITION:
EXTRAMURAL ROCK FEATURES ...................................................................................130
SURVEILLANCE AND ACCOMMODATION: PLAZAS ........................................................135
SUMMARY ....................................................................................................................138
CHAPTER 6 – THE ORDINARY AND EXTRAORDINARY: RESIDENCE AND
RITUAL AT CERRO DE MOCTEZUMA ......................................................................141
SURFACE ARTIFACTS FROM EL PUEBLITO ....................................................................144
EXCAVATED ARTIFACTS FROM EL PUEBLITO ...............................................................146
THE ORDINARY: INTER-SETTLEMENT COMPARISON .....................................................148
8
TABLE OF CONTENTS – Continued
THE EXTRAORDINARY ..................................................................................................151
Wood Preference and Differentiation .....................................................................151
Bird Wings and Elk Ribs among other Fauna ........................................................154
MISCELLANEOUS ARTIFACTS FROM CERRO DE MOCTEZUMA.......................................158
SUMMARY ....................................................................................................................158
CHAPTER 7 – EXPERIENCE AND DESTINATION AT CERRO DE
MOCTEZUMA ................................................................................................................161
MOVING TO EL PUEBLITO ............................................................................................162
ENTERING EL PUEBLITO ...............................................................................................167
ENCOUNTERING EL PUEBLITO ......................................................................................171
Public and Private Gatherings: Plazas ..................................................................171
Beyond the Practical: Architecture, Placement, and Multiplicity ..........................172
THE ULTIMATE DESTINATION AT CERRO DE MOCTEZUMA ..........................................175
SUMMARY ....................................................................................................................177
CHAPTER 8 – FROM ARCHAEOLOGY TO IDEOLOGY: COMPILING AND
CONCEPTUALIZING THE CASAS GRANDES RITUAL LANDSCAPE .................181
VISUALIZING RITUAL COMMUNITIES IN THE CASAS GRANDES LANDSCAPE.................183
Hill Sites ..................................................................................................................187
Hilltop Shrines .....................................................................................................187
Hill Shrine Communities .....................................................................................192
Ball Court Communities .........................................................................................194
Feasting Communities ............................................................................................198
THE RITUAL LANDSCAPE AT PAQUIMÉ .........................................................................202
CONCLUSIONS ..............................................................................................................207
APPENDIX A – EL PUEBLITO ARTIFACT ANALYSES AND COMPARISONS ...215
SURFACE COLLECTIONS FROM EL PUEBLITO ................................................................217
General Surface Collection.....................................................................................218
Comparison of Controlled Surface Collection Units ..............................................222
Surface Collections from Plazas .............................................................................224
Surface Collections from Buildings and Extramural Rock Features......................227
EXCAVATED ASSEMBLAGES FROM EL PUEBLITO AND INTER-SETTLEMENT
COMPARISONS ..............................................................................................................231
Comparison of Excavated Assemblages from El Pueblito......................................231
Inter-settlement Comparison of Excavated Assemblages .......................................232
Comparison of Excavated Ceramics from El Pueblito ...........................................236
Inter-settlement Comparison of Excavated Ceramics with
Notes on Chronology ..............................................................................................240
Comparison of Excavated Chipped Stone from El Pueblito ...................................244
Inter-settlement Comparison of Excavated Chipped Stone ....................................252
9
TABLE OF CONTENTS – Continued
Comparison of Excavated Ground Stone from El Pueblito ....................................256
Inter-settlement Comparison of Ground Stone .......................................................256
APPENDIX B – NON-WOOD PLANT REMAINS FROM EL PUEBLITO
EXCAVATIONS .............................................................................................................258
APPENDIX C – CERAMIC DATA FROM CERRO DE MOCTEZUMA’S TRAILS
AND WAYSID FEATURES...........................................................................................260
APPENDIX D – CERAMIC DATA FROM EL PUEBLITO AND THE ATALAYA ..265
APPENDIX E – CHIPPED STONE DATA FROM CERRO DE MOCTEZUMA’S
TRAILS AND WAYSIDE FEATURES .........................................................................270
APPENDIX F – CHIPPED STONE DATA FROM EL PUBLITO AND THE
ATALAYA ......................................................................................................................272
APPENDIX G – GROUND STONE DATA FROM CERRO DE MOCTEZUMA’S
TRAILS AND WAYSIDE FEATURES .........................................................................275
APPENDIX H – GROUND STONE DATA FROM EL PUEBLITO AND THE
ATALAYA ......................................................................................................................276
APPENDIX I – A CASAS GRANDES PLAINWARE JAR ..........................................279
REFERENCES ................................................................................................................280
10
LIST OF FIGURES
Figure 1.1
Imposing Cerro de Moctezuma fills the southwestern panorama of Casas
Grandes’ capital town of Paquimé ...........................................................18
Figure 2.1
Location of the Casas Grandes world.......................................................30
Figure 2.2a-d Four excavated Medio period settlements showing variability in
settlement composition .............................................................................40
Figure 4.1
Overview of Cerro de Moctezuma showing the locations of agricultural
fields, trails, El Pueblito, and the atalaya .................................................75
Figure 4.2
Two upland rock agricultural fields and massive oven that are a part of a
larger complex along Cerro de Moctezuma’s west side...........................77
Figure 4.3
Cerro de Moctezuma’s known trails and wayside features ......................82
Figure 4.4
Wayside Feature 93, a symbolic passage to El Pueblito and Paquimé ....86
Figure 4.5
Wayside Feature 101, a rock accumulation..............................................89
Figure 4.6
Wayside Features 124 and 126 .................................................................90
Figure 4.7
Wayside Feature 128, parallel rock alignments .......................................92
Figure 4.8
Plan view of the atalaya atop Cerro de Moctezuma ...............................102
Figure 4.9
Profile views of the atalaya atop Cerro de Moctezuma..........................103
Figure 5.1
El Pueblito on Cerro de Moctezuma showing the types and locations of
features ...................................................................................................110
Figure 5.2
A 12-walled room in the adobe mound ..................................................112
Figure 5.3a-c Adobe wall profiles as revealed by looting and excavation ...................114
Figure 5.4
West wall profile of a rock-in-adobe structure, Feature 56 ....................117
Figure 5.5
West profile of two partially excavated rubble core masonry structures
showing room floors and remnant and projected wall heights ...............119
Figure 5.6
A rubble core masonry structure, Feature 35 .........................................122
Figure 5.7
A rubble core masonry structure, Feature 36, with a platform hearth and
T-shaped door .........................................................................................124
Figure 5.8
An adobe platform hearth (Feature 118) with ash retainer ....................125
Figure 5.9
A rubble core masonry structure, Feature 28 .........................................127
Figure 5.10
A rubble core masonry structure, Feature 15 .........................................128
Figure 5.11
Top view of the massive rubble core masonry wall, Feature 46 ............129
Figure 5.12
A rock feature, Feature 7 ........................................................................132
Figure 5.13
A rock feature, Feature 49 ......................................................................133
Figure 5.14
A rock feature, Feature 24 ......................................................................135
Figure 7.1
Below surface Trail 113 with rhyolite cliff of the El Pueblito mesa in the
background .............................................................................................166
Figure 7.2
El Pueblito showing the south entrance trail and points of entry from the
north and west ........................................................................................168
Figure 7.3
West entrance to El Pueblito ..................................................................169
Figure 7.4
North entrance to El Pueblito .................................................................169
Figure 7.5
First view of the atalaya from the atalaya trail .......................................176
Figure 8.1
Settlement survey areas and known settlements in the Casas Grandes
heartland .................................................................................................185
11
LIST OF FIGURES – Continued
Figure 8.2
Hill survey areas and known locations of hill sites in the Casas Grandes
heartland .................................................................................................186
Figure 8.3
Hill sites in the Casas Grandes heartland and the types of features on
them ........................................................................................................191
Figure 8.4
Distribution of ball courts in the Casas Grandes heartland ....................195
Figure 8.5
Distribution of massive “feasting” ovens in the Casas Grandes
heartland .................................................................................................201
Figure A.1
El Pueblito on Cerro de Moctezuma showing the locations of test
excavated features and controlled surface collection units ....................216
Figure A.2a-e Examples of chipped stone tools from the general surface collection at El
Pueblito...................................................................................................220
Figure A.3
An unusually large axe from the general surface collection at
El Pueblito ..............................................................................................221
Figure A.4
Proportional comparison of ceramics, chipped stone, and ground stone
from the surfaces of El Pueblito’s plazas ...............................................225
Figure A.5
Proportional comparison of plain and decorated ceramics from the
surfaces of El Pueblito’s plazas ..............................................................226
Figure A.6
Proportional comparison of chipped stone from the surfaces of El
Pueblito’s plazas .....................................................................................227
Figure A.7
Proportional comparison of ceramics, chipped stone, and ground stone
from the surfaces of El Pueblito’s buildings and extramural
rock features ...........................................................................................228
Figure A.8
Proportional comparison of plain and decorated ceramics from the
surfaces of El Pueblito’s buildings and extramural rock features ..........229
Figure A.9
Proportional comparison of chipped stone from the surfaces of El
Pueblito’s buildings and extramural rock features .................................230
Figure A.10
Proportional comparison of excavated ceramics, chipped stone, and
ground stone from El Pueblito’s buildings and extramural rock
features ...................................................................................................232
Figure A.11
Proportional comparison of excavated ceramics, chipped stone, and
ground stone from the adobe architecture at El Pueblito and four other
Medio period settlements .......................................................................233
Figure A.12
Proportional comparison of excavated ceramics, chipped stone, and
ground stone from all contexts at El Pueblito and four other Medio period
settlements ..............................................................................................235
Figure A.13
Proportional comparison of excavated plain and decorated ceramics from
El Pueblito ..............................................................................................237
Figure A.14
Proportional comparison of excavated jar and bowl rims from
El Pueblito ..............................................................................................238
Figure A.15
Range of excavated Plainware rim diameters from El Pueblito .............240
Figure A.16
Proportions of small, medium, and large Plainware jars ........................240
12
LIST OF FIGURES – Continued
Figure A.17
Figure A.18
Figure A.19
Figure A.20
Figure A.21
Figure A.22
Figure I.1
Proportional comparison of excavated chipped stone from El Pueblito’s
adobe architecture and all other contexts ...............................................246
Proportional comparison of excavated chipped stone from all contexts at
El Pueblito ..............................................................................................247
Proportional comparison of excavated chipped stone from El Pueblito’s
buildings and extramural rock features ..................................................248
Proportional comparison of excavated chipped stone from El Pueblito’s
extramural rock features .........................................................................249
Proportional comparison of excavated chipped stone raw material types
from El Pueblito .....................................................................................250
Proportional comparison of excavated chipped stone from El Pueblito
and four other Medio period settlements ................................................254
A Casas Grandes Plainware bowl from El Pueblito ...............................279
13
LIST OF TABLES
Table 2.1
Table 5.1
Table 5.2
Table 6.1
Table 6.2
Table 6.3
Table 6.4
Table 6.5
Table A.1
Table A.2
Table A.3
Table A.4
Table A.5
Table A.6
Table A.7
Table A.8
Table A.9
Table A.10
Table A.11
Table A.12
Table A.13
Table A.14
Table A.15
Table A.16
Table A.17
Chronology for the Casas Grandes world .....................................................27
Rubble core masonry structures at El Pueblito ...........................................119
Extramural rock features at El Pueblito ......................................................131
Test excavated features at Cerro de Moctezuma ........................................143
Volume excavated and counts of ceramics, chipped stone, and ground stone
from El Pueblito and four other Medio period settlements.........................144
Abundance, counts, and weights of wood remains from El Pueblito .........153
Wood abundance from El Pueblito and four other Medio period
settlements...................................................................................................153
Faunal remains from Cerro de Moctezuma ................................................157
Test excavated features at El Pueblito ........................................................215
Ceramic counts from the general surface collection at El Pueblito ............219
Chipped stone counts from the general surface collection at El Pueblito...220
Ground stone counts from the general surface collection at El Pueblito ....221
Densities and ratios of ceramics, chipped stone, and ground stone from
controlled surface collection units at El Pueblito .......................................223
Densities and ratios of plain and decorated ceramics from controlled surface
collection units at El Pueblito .....................................................................223
Densities of decorated ceramics from controlled surface collection units at
El Pueblito...................................................................................................223
Densities of chipped stone from controlled surface collection units at El
Pueblito .......................................................................................................223
Proportions of ceramics, chipped stone, and ground stone from the surfaces
of El Pueblito’s plazas ................................................................................225
Proportions of chipped stone from the surfaces of El Pueblito’s plazas.....227
Proportions of ceramics, chipped stone, and ground stone from the surfaces
of El Pueblito’s buildings and extramural rock features .............................228
Proportions of chipped stone from the surfaces of El Pueblito’s buildings
and extramural rock features .......................................................................230
Proportions of ceramics, chipped stone, and ground stone from El Pueblito’s
buildings and extramural rock features .......................................................232
Proportions of excavated ceramics, chipped stone, and ground stone from
the adobe architecture at El Pueblito and four other Medio period
settlements...................................................................................................234
Proportions of excavated ceramics, chipped stone, and ground stone from all
contexts at El Pueblito and four other Medio period settlements ...............235
Proportions of excavated jar and bowl rims from El Pueblito ....................238
Ceramic type proportions from excavations at El Pueblito and four other
Medio period settlements ............................................................................242
14
LIST OF TABLES – Continued
Table A.18 Polychrome proportions from excavations at El Pueblito and four other
Medio period settlements ............................................................................242
Table A.19 Plainware jar and bowl proportions compared to all other types from
El Pueblito...................................................................................................244
Table A.20 Proportions of excavated chipped stone from El Pueblito’s adobe
architecture and all other contexts ..............................................................246
Table A.21 Proportions of excavated chipped stone from all contexts at El Pueblito...247
Table A.22 Proportions of excavated chipped stone from El Pueblito’s buildings and
extramural rock features .............................................................................248
Table A.23 Proportions of excavated chipped stone from El Pueblito’s extramural rock
features ........................................................................................................249
Table A.24 Proportions of excavated whole and broken flakes from El Pueblito’s
extramural rock features .............................................................................249
Table A.25 Proportions of chipped stone raw material types from El Pueblito’s
buildings and extramural rock features .......................................................251
Table A.26 Counts of excavated stone tools from El Pueblito ......................................252
Table A.27 Proportions of excavated chipped stone raw material types form El Pueblito
and four other Medio period settlements ....................................................253
Table A.28 Proportions of chipped stone from El Pueblito and four other Medio period
settlements...................................................................................................254
Table A.29 Counts of excavated ground stone items from El Pueblito .........................256
Table A.30 Proportions of ground stone items from El Pueblito and four other Medio
period settlements .......................................................................................257
Table B.1 Ubiquity and number of identified charred plant remains from El Pueblito
flotation samples .........................................................................................259
Table C.1 Ceramic types and counts from the surface survey of trails and wayside
features at Cerro de Moctezuma .................................................................261
Table D.1 Surface and excavated ceramic types and counts from El Pueblito and the
atalaya .........................................................................................................266
Table E.1 Chipped stone items and counts from the surface survey of trails and
wayside features at Cerro de Moctezuma ...................................................271
Table F.1 Surface and excavated chipped stone items and counts from El Pueblito and
the atalaya ...................................................................................................273
Table H.1 Surface and excavated ground stone items and counts from El Pueblito and
the atalaya ...................................................................................................277
15
ABSTRACT
The research presented here explores why a few people left their valley-dwelling
neighbors to build and live at El Pueblito on Cerro de Moctezuma, the only hilltop
settlement constructed during the Casas Grandes Medio period (A.D. 1200-1450) in what
is today northwest Chihuahua, Mexico. These people also constructed the only currently
recognized trails to a settlement, a massive rock agricultural system and subterranean
oven, and an unparalleled crowning hill summit precinct. Comparative analyses of
artifacts from limited excavations at El Pueblito to four other Medio period settlements
shows that in terms of ceramics, chipped stone, and ground stone, El Pueblito was an
ordinary residence. However, other evidence demonstrates that El Pueblito, and more
comprehensively Cerro de Moctezuma, was beyond the ordinary. Wood preference, bird
wings, remains of elk, an impractical use of construction materials, an imposing use of
buildings, a unique architectural style, and an untypical settlement composition support a
conclusion of specialized, ideological interests. Trails and wayside shrines at Cerro de
Moctezuma were physical and symbolic places that initialized perceptions of the hill.
Theories of ritualization, architecture, pilgrimage, and community; ethnographic analogy;
and archaeological parallels provide vantages to orient Cerro de Moctezuma within a
broader ritualized landscape of interactions involving hilltop shrines, feasting ovens, ball
courts, and Paquimé, the premier capital of Medio times. Cerro de Moctezuma and
Paquimé each concentrated the trappings of specialization. Tangible reproductions of
ritual in the hinterland, such as ovens and ball courts, are less elaborately expressed than
at Paquimé. Likewise, hilltop ritual facilities are most elaborate at Cerro de Moctezuma
16
compared to those in the hinterland. Pilgrimage to both ritual centers as well as
hinterland ritual leaders are envisioned. Within a trans-regional ideology and worldview
of hill settlement and use, Cerro de Moctezuma was locally crafted from a ritual mandate
to reinforce and maintain central beliefs and values emanating from Paquimé and was a
physical and ideological part of that great center with ritual leadership residing
periodically at both places.
17
CHAPTER 1 – TOWARD A NEW UNDERSTANDING OF CERRO DE
MOCTEZUMA AND THE CASAS GRANDES RITUAL LANDSCAPE
Around A.D. 1200 in what is today northwest Chihuahua, Mexico, a
transformation from pit houses and red-on-brown pottery to above ground adobe
architecture and polychrome pottery began. It culminated in one of the most distinctive
and extensive cultural expressions in late prehistoric northwest Mexico and the southwest
United States. Casas Grandes, as this cultural domain is known, is renowned in part
because its namesake town, also referred to as Paquimé, is the largest and most elaborate
settlement among related secondary sites and hundreds of significantly smaller and
simpler ones. But there is another Casas Grandes settlement far more elaborate than
most, and it too was an outcome of the transformation that occurred. Before the rise of
Paquimé, only in the Archaic period were hills used for habitation (Hard and Roney
1998), and it was not until the 1200s during the Medio period that the people of this area
again chose a hill for dwelling, and then it was only in a single instance. I refer to El
Pueblito, a residential site on Cerro de Moctezuma that is a visually iconic landform in
the Casas Grandes valley and an imposing southwest panorama from Paquimé (Figure
1.1). Understanding the overall settlement and landscape context of El Pueblito and how
it is set within the entirety of Cerro de Moctezuma with its trails, extensive rock
agricultural complex, and unparalleled summit feature requires a theoretical approach
beyond what has been previously applied in the area to interpret settlement and societal
organization.
18
Figure 1.1. Imposing Cerro de Moctezuma fills the southwestern panorama of Casas Grandes’
capital town of Paquimé.
An emerging thread of inquiry among researchers in the southwest United States,
northwest Mexico, and elsewhere asks how ritual can unify and organize societies where
all-powerful leaders and bureaucracies are minimized or absent, which appears to be the
case in the Casas Grandes world. A flexible and insightful theoretical approach that has
not received wide application in the Casas Grandes region but has been pursued in other
parts of the southwest, in both archaeology and history, is the concept of landscape
(Sheridan 2006; Snead 2008; Snead et al. 2009; Snead and Preucel 1999; Van Dyke
2008; Varien 1999; Whittlesey 2009; Whittlesey et al. 1997; Wygant 2007). Combined
with broadly drawn ethnographic analogies and additional theories involving ritual,
pilgrimage, and architecture I adopt a ritualized landscape framework to formulate and
refine a more comprehensive view of Cerro de Moctezuma and its role in the Casas
Grandes world. I suggest that Cerro de Moctezuma was a prominent and ritually charged
19
component of the Casas Grandes landscape and an embodiment of broader trans-regional
tenets associated with hills.
CERRO DE MOCTEZUMA
Although Cerro de Moctezuma has been noted for its unusual archaeological
remains since the times of Adolph Bandelier (1890-1892:563-574) and Carl Lumholtz
(1902:89-91), and despite visits to the hill by Blackiston (1906), Brand (1933, 1943),
Sayles (1933), Di Peso (1974:2), Roney and Trumbal (1983), Whalen and Minnis (1995),
and Swanson (1997) there had never been a systematic program of survey and
excavation; a brief history of preceding documentation and interpretation is covered by
Pitezel (2007). There is little wonder why the hill has drawn the attention of so many.
Two principal architectural elements of Cerro de Moctezuma are El Pueblito, 200 m
above the surrounding valleys, and its unique and preeminent walled summit feature, or
atalaya, an additional 200 m higher circumscribing the hill summit. At 400 m above
Paquimé to the northeast, the view from the summit is spectacular and unparalleled. In
view of El Pueblito’s unique situation on a mesa jutting from the north end of the hill and
the crowning walls on the summit, it is curious that Cerro de Moctezuma has figured so
little in reconstructions of Medio period society (although see Swanson 2003; VanPool
and VanPool 2007:130-132).
But there is more to Cerro de Moctezuma than its summit and settlement. The hill
also supports the only currently identified trails and accompanying features approaching
a Casas Grandes settlement, the second largest set of agricultural fields on record, a
20
regionally unduplicated masonry technology, extravagant adobe architecture, a reservoir,
and a massive wall or terrace. El Pueblito itself combines architecture and outdoor
features in a configuration that is unrivaled outside Paquimé for its communal orientation
and exclusive attributes. An inclusive consideration of Cerro de Moctezuma’s
components has been absent in previous interpretations of this settlement. Generally,
prior accounts of Cerro de Moctezuma have invoked assumptions about El Pueblito and
the summit feature in suggesting reasons for El Pueblito’s unusual position, although
these reasons are not necessarily mutually exclusive. According to one assumption,
because El Pueblito is located on a hill it could have been a defensive installation
(Blackiston 1906). Other interpretations have seen the summit feature as either a central
node of communication because of visibility, a defensive lookout, or an element related
to Casas Grandes religious beliefs. Following from each scenario, El Pueblito’s residents
would have been caretakers of the summit feature (Bandelier 1890-1892:567-568;
Blackiston 1906; Brand 1933; Di Peso 1974:2:362-365; Swanson 1997). Defense,
communication, and religion are equally plausible possibilities, but none of these
associations has rested on more than brief visits to the hill and conjecture coupled with a
general failure to consider the relevance of Cerro de Moctezuma’s landscape context
(although see Swanson 2003).
OVERVIEW OF THE INVESTIGATIVE APPROACH
El Pueblito is the notable exception to typical patterns of residential settlement
type and location in the near vicinity of Paquimé. It is impractically located for access to
21
water or food in comparison to the many hundreds of other settlements in the valleys
around Cerro de Moctezuma. Why, then, is El Pueblito improbably situated on a hill?
Or, Why did El Pueblito’s residents choose to leave their neighbors on the valley floor
and build this impressive and unique settlement? Prior documentation of El Pueblito
existed at such an incomplete level that even beginning to address that question required
initial survey and mapping. Pedestrian survey located features on El Pueblito that were
subsequently mapped. The immediate outcome from the mapping phase was the first
systematically produced map of El Pueblito that showed a number and variety of features
unknown at other settlements, and it allowed the design of a test excavation program
based on a stratified sample of features to maximize data collection from the diverse
architectural and extramural elements of the settlement.
The composition of the summit feature or atalaya is variably described and
illustrated in the existing literature, including in the form of a spiraled tower with four
interior rooms and an outermost wall, but those characterizations are not entirely evident
today. Therefore, the summit feature was mapped to clarify the constituent parts of the
precinct, and limited trench excavations were conducted in hopes of confirming the
existence of an interior structure. Excavated contents were sought to shed light on the
nature of activities in the summit precinct.
Substantial trails linking prehispanic nodes and fields with arrays of stone features
were known to be present at Cerro de Moctezuma, but only minimal documentation
existed in passing references or as sketch maps, and it was clear that to better appreciate
and recognize the complexity of the hill, each needed additional research. Each complex
22
of features was investigated as time, funding, and labor permitted with two primary goals
being to document the extent of trails and agricultural features. More specific questions
concerning trails address the similarities and differences among them and how they might
have been used. Investigation of the agricultural complex focused on the variety of
features present, what crops they might have supported, and how they might have
provisioned the settlement of El Pueblito or beyond.
ORGANIZATION OF THE DISSERTATION
A selected review of past and current research in the Casas Grandes world is
presented in Chapter 2. Most researchers today challenge the original, highly influential,
interpretation of Paquimé and societal organization presented by Di Peso in his multivolume exposition of his work at that great site. Di Peso worked at the apex of the Casas
Grandes settlement hierarchy and extended his thoughts about social, economic, political,
and religious institutions across the hinterland without an adequate knowledge of the
settlements he characterized as being subject to Paquimé. The challenge is to rethink
Paquimé and its regional relationships through surveys and excavation of sites from
southwest New Mexico to west-central Chihuahua.
Chapter 3 provides key theoretical concepts focused on landscape, ritual,
pilgrimage, and architecture in order to frame succeeding discussions on Cerro de
Moctezuma and the Casas Grandes ritual landscape. As indicated earlier, Cerro de
Moctezuma encompasses an array of features from its lower slopes to its summit.
Chapter 4 opens with the results from mapping Cerro de Moctezuma’s rock agricultural
23
systems. The unexpected extent of the field complex demonstrates that Cerro de
Moctezuma has the second largest system yet recorded in the region. Following that,
trails are described as avenues used to ascend and descend Cerro de Moctezuma, to reach
El Pueblito at three entrances, and to climb 400 m the summit. Accompanying wayside
features also are described. Together, trails and wayside features mark the Casas
Grandes landscape at Cerro de Moctezuma in a structured manner that evokes a transition
from the common to the extraordinary. Discussion of the summit atalaya concludes
Chapter 4 where the largest, most elaborate Casas Grandes hilltop construction is
described as a unique ritual precinct. In Chapter 5, attention turns to El Pueblito’s
architecture and other features. Normative Medio period construction is not a
characteristic of El Pueblito, but instead robust masonry and adobe architecture and
diverse outdoor features serve as signatures of the exceptional nature of this unique
example of hill settlement. Chapter 5 also serves to introduce architecture and features
that were the focus of test excavations on El Pueblito.
Chapter 6 summarizes analyses of artifacts from surface collections and test
excavations at El Pueblito that are comprehensively discussed in Appendix A.
Assemblages of ceramics, chipped stone, and ground stone from distinct types of
architecture and features are compared in order to evaluate possible differences in their
use. Although sample sizes are small, there are some indications of functional variation
between spatial components at El Pueblito, especially the adobe room. The same data are
used to compare El Pueblito to four other Medio period settlements. Given El Pueblito’s
exceptional location, a distinctive artifact assemblage was expected but was not found.
24
In terms of ceramics, chipped stone, and ground stone El Pueblito is comparable to
current comparative collections. However, wood and faunal collections from El Pueblito
and the atalaya also are described in Chapter 6 as tangible evidence for specialized and
dedicated conceptions of Cerro de Moctezuma in the Medio period landscape.
In Chapter 7, the reader is taken along a journey to Cerro de Moctezuma as
visitors to the hill might have experienced it in the past. Trails of destination begin below
the hill and rise to one of El Pueblito’s three entrances. Moving through El Pueblito
travelers would have encountered a kind of settlement unknown in their home
communities. The journey culminates atop Cerro de Moctezuma at the ultimate
expression of summit precincts in the region. Summit features are taken up again in
Chapter 8, along with ball courts and massive ovens as elements of the broader Casas
Grandes landscape in which ritual communities formed under variable contexts.
Possibilities for leadership roles could be expressed under varying circumstances within
ritual communities. The chapter concludes by addressing 1) Why did the residents of El
Pueblito live on a hill while most Casas Grandes populations did not?, and 2) What was
Cerro de Moctezuma’s role in Medio period settlement and organization and its wider
ritual landscape?
25
CHAPTER 2 – A VIEW OF THE PAST AND PRESENT STATE OF THE
CASAS GRANDES MEDIO PERIOD
The most famous interpretation of Casas Grandes was published in a 3-volume
narrative that was based on three years of excavation at Paquimé and a few other sites.
The data from that project fill an additional five volumes, and together they are titled
Casas Grandes: A Fallen Trading Center of the Gran Chichimeca (Di Peso 1974; Di
Peso et al. 1974). The title tersely characterizes Charles C. Di Peso’s thoughts: Paquimé
was a trading center that succumbed. There is more to his interpretation—a complex web
of theory, analogy, and data—which suggests that Paquimé was a Mesoamerican outpost
and a centralized polity ruling over a vast landscape, about 87,750 sq km. The Joint
Casas Grandes Expedition (JCGE), led by Di Peso in collaboration with the Instituto
Nacional de Antropología e Historia, only excavated two settlements contemporary with
Paquimé, making Di Peso’s interpretation Paquimé-centric and leaving a knowledge gap
about its near and far neighbors.
Importantly, there have been survey and excavation projects and collections
studies over the past 20 years that have added data and new understandings of the Casas
Grandes region that were missing from the original study (Bagwell 2004; Bagwell 2006;
Bradley 1999, 2000; Casserino 2009; Cruz Antillón and Maxwell 1999; Harmon 2005;
Kelley 2008; Kelley et al. 1999; Rakita 2001; Searcy 2010; Sprehn 2003; Stewart et al.
2004; VanPool 2003; Vargas 1995, 2001; Whalen and Minnis 2001b, 2009). It now is
clear from some of this more recent research that Casas Grandes was not the centralized
26
polity as originally defined by Di Peso, and instead, there appears to have been
independent sectors across northwest Chihuahua, and beyond, with variable integration
and interaction with the great center of Paquimé, but this settlement retains its primacy in
unparalleled fashion. A question to be asked is, “If Paquimé did not comprehensively
govern, what tied communities together and to Paquimé?” Among recent studies,
religion and ritual have surfaced as an overarching organizing principle for Medio period
Casas Grandes (e.g., Rakita 2009; VanPool and VanPool 2007). Nevertheless, while
studies promote a ritual perspective, especially as a leadership strategy, it is not always
clear how the leadership or ideology was extended across the Medio period landscape.
This dissertation is a step in that direction using ritual landscape as a broad framework.
In this chapter, I review the original interpretation of Casas Grandes, subsequent regional
field projects, and several studies that have proposed integrating strategies used by Medio
period leaders.
CASAS GRANDES CHRONOLOGY
The Medio period was originally defined by Di Peso as beginning in A.D. 1060
and lasting through A.D. 1340 (Table 1; see also Scott 1966). Researchers almost
immediately questioned the chronology (Braniff C. 1986; Carlson 1982; LeBlanc 1980;
Lekson 1984; Wilcox and Shenk 1977:64-68) and the Medio period has now been pushed
forward in time to A.D. 1200-1450/1500 (Dean and Ravesloot 1993; Foster 1995;
Phillips and Carpenter 1999).
27
Table 2.1. Chronology for the Casas Grandes world.
Period
Phase
Viejo
Convento
Pilon
Perros Bravos
Buena Fé
Paquimé
Diablo
Robles
Spanish Contact
San Antonio de Padua
Apache
Medio
Tardio
Españoles
Originala
700-900
900-950
950-1060
1060-1205
1205-1261
1261-1340
1340-1519
1519-1600
1660-1696
1680-1821
Revisedb
1200
to
1450
Note: All dates A.D.
a
Di Peso et al. 1974:4
b
Dean and Ravesloot 1993
The realignment of the Medio period from the thirteenth century into the fifteenth century
accords with an earlier estimation of the Casas Grandes timeline (Gladwin in Sayles
(1936)). Most recently, Whalen and Minnis (2009) have characterized Medio period
Paquimé as blossoming beginning in the 1300s, an evaluation not out of line with Dean
and Ravesloot’s (1993) earlier work with Paquimé’s tree-ring data. We know very little
about the intervals bracketing the Medio period. Broadly, the antecedent Viejo period
was a time of farming by pit house dwellers using plain, textured, and red-on-brown
ceramic vessels. The interval immediately preceding the Medio period, but still classified
within the Viejo period, saw the transition to surface structures in the form of jacal
architecture and the introduction of a polychrome ceramic. Di Peso dated the beginning
of the Viejo to A.D. 700, but so little archaeology has been done in the Casas Grandes
Valley that the date of Viejo beginnings should be used cautiously (cf. Stewart et al.
2004).
28
In the original chronology, Di Peso named two periods subsequent to Medio
times. His Tardio period was characterized as a time of resettlement following the
destruction of Paquimé, and while material culture continued, those items cannot be
distinguished from their Medio counterparts (Di Peso 1974:3; Pitezel 2000). Phillips and
Carpenter (1999) argue eloquently that Di Peso’s construction of the Robles phase, the
leading interval of the Tardio period, was flawed in the face of then prevailing evidence.
In addition to their argument, it is not clear why the same apparently charged symbolism,
for example on ceramics, would continue to be crafted and consumed after Paquimé’s
destruction, especially considering Di Peso’s interpretation of that center as the political,
economic, and religious seat of Medio period life.
Paquimé was not inhabited by its Medio period residents, or their descendents,
when Spanish Basque explorer Francisco de Ibarra passed by the settlement in 1568,
although the nearby surrounding area was still occupied (Obregón 1928:207). Curiously,
Baltasar de Obregón, Ibarra’s chronicler, describes paintings on exterior walls at
Paquimé. It seems unlikely that paint, left unattended on adobe would last very long.
Either some group was maintaining at least parts of that once great center or its residents
had not been gone so long that wall surfaces had deteriorated. Finally, the established
presence of the Spanish and the construction of the Franciscan mission San Antonio de
Padua de Casas Grandes marks the beginning of Di Peso’s Españoles period in A.D.
1660. There are no known direct descendents of Casas Grandes inhabitants, today.
29
ENVIRONMENTAL SETTING
Casas Grandes affinities in combined ceramics and architecture are found from
southwestern New Mexico to west-central Chihuahua and from the Sierra Madre
Occidental to the Carmen and Santa Clara Rivers, an area encompassing roughly 29,000
sq km within the Chihuahuan Desert and most of northwest Chihuahua (Figure 2.1). The
majority of that area consists of basin and range topography with the Sierra Madre
making up the western and southern fringes. The difference between the highest
elevation, about 2500 m, and the lowest, about 1100 m, indicates the potential for
significant biotic diversity (Brand 1933). Prehistoric patterns of precipitation and
temperature are not well known for northwest Chihuahua, but some departure from
present conditions appears indicated by ubiquitous riparian species identified in
prehistoric roofing that are quite restricted in distribution today.
Although records from south-central New Mexico (Grissino-Mayer et al. 1997)
are not immediate to Paquimé’s surroundings, past environmental reconstruction based
on tree-ring data show a long-term drought between A.D. 1210-1305, followed by a
century of above average rainfall with little year-to-year variance; the latter half of the
1300s was especially wet. Below average rainfall characterizes the 1400s, with a severe
drought between A.D. 1405-1410 and again between A.D. 1445-1450. In northwest
Chihuahua, today, most precipitation occurs in the months of July and August, although
rainfall can be spatially variable across the area and from year to year. In general, rainfall
decreases from southwest to northeast with annual average precipitation ranging from
600 mm in the Sierra Madre to 250 mm in the Carmen River Valley (INEGI 1988;
30
Schmidt 1973:Figure 6). The modern town Casas Grandes averages about 300 mm
annual rainfall that is highly summer dominant.
Figure 2.1. Location of the Casas Grandes world. Medio period-related settlements span from the
Animas Creek area to Laguna Babicora and from the Sierra Madre Occidental to the Carmen and
Santa Clara Rivers.
31
Three interior drainages make up the largest watersheds in northwest Chihuahua.
From west to east they are the Casas Grandes, Santa Maria, and Carmen Rivers, all
flowing south to north. The Casas Grandes is the largest of these rivers, draining 16,600
sq km (Schmidt 1973:22). Whalen and Minnis (2001b:61) compare the Casas Grandes
River drainage to archaeologically important counterparts in the southwest United States,
finding that it is some nine times smaller than the Gila River drainage, but comparable to
the Verde and Salt River watersheds. Secondary watercourses of importance in
northwest Chihuahua are the Tinaja and Tapicitas Arroyos, both of which flow into the
Piedras Verdes River that in turn joins the Palanganas River to form the Casas Grandes
River at the southern toe of Cerro de Moctezuma.
CASAS GRANDES SETTLEMENT
The Casas Grandes River Valley is not only the largest watershed but also is
home to the largest and most elaborate settlement from Medio times, Paquimé, and is the
location of Cerro de Moctezuma. Both are at the headwaters of the Casas Grandes River.
Paquimé is regarded as the capital city of the Medio period and Cerro de Moctezuma fills
the western panorama of that great city. Rising 400 m above the surround landscape,
Cerro de Moctezuma was surely a visual landmark for Paquimé’s residents and
surrounding populations.
Paquimé was clearly the most populous and elaborate among its Chihuahuan
contemporaries (Maxwell 2002:12; Phillips 2002a:20; Whalen and Minnis 2001b),
indeed, one the most complex settlements among all its contemporaries in the southwest
32
United States and northwest Mexico (Johnson 1989:386; Plog 1997:173). Paquimé
evokes the strongest perceptions of Mesoamerican influence in the greater region during
its time (Riley 2005:117). “[I]n terms of both site size and complexity of remains
[Paquimé] is ‘off the scale’” for Chihuahua (Phillips 2002a:20), representing the highest
expression of political, social, ritual, and economic activity in the Casas Grandes
settlement system. The spectacle of Paquimé’s architectural scale and sophisticated
artifact inventory is not repeated elsewhere among Medio period settlements.
Survey in the Casas Grandes heartland shows that there are about 300 Medio
period sites around Paquimé and to its west and northwest, up to a distance of about 70
km (Whalen and Minnis 2001b:Table 4.1). Recent work among some 200 sites south of
the heartland in west-central Chihuahua, along the upper Santa Maria and Santa Clara
Rivers and around Laguna Babicora, document broadly distributed connections with
developments closer to Paquimé (Kelley et al. 1999). Restricted levels of knowledge
regarding settlement patterns follows from under-documented habitation in the Sierra
Madre Occidental encompassing the modern border of Sonora and Chihuahua to the west
and along northwestern Chihuahua’s more eastern Santa Maria and Carmen Rivers.
Lekson and his coauthors (2004) speculate that there may have been thousands of Medio
period settlements with a population of no less than 95,000.
With exceptions possible in more poorly investigated sectors, Medio period
settlements are characteristically along or near permanent and seasonal drainages and
span mountain bajadas (Brand 1933; Whalen and Minnis 2001b:136-138). In adjacent
regions, and contemporary with the Medio period, valley and basin settlement
33
predominates among patterned components of habitation on and specialized use of
prominent hills within clearly recognized cultural traditions, and much earlier
manifestations of hill residences are known in Chihuahua (Downum et al. 1993; Fish and
Fish 2007; Fish et al. 2007; Hard and Roney 1998; O'Donovan 2002; Pailes 2008).
Moreover, modification and elaboration of hills appears to have been a widespread
ideological phenomenon from central Mexico into the southwest United States (Fish and
Fish 2007; Nelson 2007). Expectations for similarly represented ideology in the Medio
period find trans-regional expressions muted in comparison but nonetheless almost
certainly crafted to local circumstances. Data collected by Swanson (1997) from a 90 sq
km area near Paquimé shows that Medio period use of hills was widespread and that
work reconfirms characterizations prior to his hill survey of preferred settlement
locations in low valley and piedmont settings. There is, however, one exception: El
Pueblito on Cerro de Moctezuma. Squarely within the Medio period Casas Grandes
heartland and a few kilometers from Paquimé, then, is the only substantial hill residence.
PREVIOUS CASAS GRANDES STUDIES
Paquimé
This background begins with a review of Paquimé because it is the standard by
which all else Medio is compared. Volume 2 of the Casas Grandes report, which outlines
the Medio period in narrative, immediately introduces an interpretation based on
Wittfogel’s (1957) treatise on irrigation societies (Di Peso 1974:2:290). More
specifically, Di Peso’s interpretation of Paquimé was tied to themes of “constructional,”
34
“organizational,” and “acquisitive” activities modeled after Chapter 2 of Wittfogel’s
work. At Paquimé those activities were initiated and implemented by a foreign “donor”
society with the labor of a local “recipient” population, an idea grounded in Di Peso’s
previous work in southern Arizona (Di Peso 1956:562-564). For Di Peso, the cultural
formation of the southwest United States had much to do with intrusions from
unspecified Mesoamerican sources (Riley 1993). The Casas Grandes realm, and more
specifically Paquimé, was similarly influenced and Di Peso found in Wittfogel a model
on which to base the remarkable changes observed between the Medio period and the
preceding Viejo period, with architecture, ceramic inventory, and infrastructure being
some of the more prominent developments in Medio times. The following description is
abstracted from Volume 2 of the Casas Grandes report (Di Peso 1974:2).
After a time of initial contacts with Mesoamerica in the Viejo period, Di Peso
suggested that an unknown number of merchant-priests from an unspecified place in
Mesoamerica eventually became managerial overlords at Paquimé and inspired an
“urbanized hydrologic society.” With technological sophistication the donors engineered
and directed the construction of Paquimé, purportedly selected for urbanization because
1) it was in an oasis setting that could sustain agricultural production; 2) it was central to
other resources such as ricolite, selenite, salt, copper, and turquoise; 3) it had sufficient
population to support exploitative purposes; and, 4) it was positioned in a transportation
corridor between the southwest United States and Mesoamerica. These conditions were
important for enabling the foreign donors to direct the trading operations between this
Mesoamerican outpost and local and foreign communities and create a stratified society
35
of Paquimé elites and an outlying working class. The laboring sister villages produced
(primarily agricultural) surplus goods that were funneled into the Paquimé market center
and provisioned its civic and religious leadership, thereby allowing the Paquimé residents
to specialize in crafting of ceramics, jewelry, and lithic goods. In return for their support,
satellite villages could have been provided military protection and religious inspiration
from the capital town of Paquimé.
Di Peso says little of military operations other than briefly disclosing that hill
summit features might have been situated as observation posts from which to keep a
watchful eye upon travelers along purported roads that connected Paquimé with local
resources. One of these observation posts was atop Cerro de Moctezuma, the central
node in the network, and he also considered it an important religious shrine. More is
made of religion and its attendant ritual and paraphernalia than of purported military
operations. Some of the changes seen in the Medio period, Di Peso suggested, were
associated with the introduction of Mesoamerican cults into northern Chihuahua,
specifically Xipe Tótec, Tlaloc, and Quetzalcóatl. Mountains, sky, water, agriculture,
and sacrifice and cannibalism are some of the themes found within the religious
complexes Di Peso identified, and he covered the breadth of Mesoamerica seeking
parallels to Paquimé’s architecture, ceramic forms, images and motifs, shell ornaments,
and other aspects of Medio period life. Di Peso notes, however, that in order to work,
Mesoamerican ritual and ceremonial forms had to be cast in a local flavor and context for
the Casas Grandians: “It is one thing to copy your neighbor’s mano design, but another
thing to be able to accept his exact image of god and to achieve parallel identity with
36
it…” (Di Peso 1974:2:547). Out of religious doctrines and in conjunction with
“display”—a central market, warehouses, ball courts, earthen mounds, and high-rise
architecture—priestly orders created a holy image of the city that pulled the hinterland
farmers, and their agricultural produce, to a divine place where they gathered to pay
homage. Paquimé was crafted in part to attract visitors from near and far for economic
transactions and was bolstered by its technological and religious sophistication.
Much of the preceding interpretation, while having some basis in the remains of
Paquimé’s artifacts, style of public architecture, and iconography, is scanty in details and
Di Peso repeatedly deploys words such as “perhaps” and “possibly” thus implying the
interpretation is open for deeper analysis. There are Mesoamerican inspirations at
Paquimé to be sure. The two I-shaped ball courts are perhaps the clearest transferral of
southern models but other Casas Grandes forms have southern overtones such as the
earthen mounds, colonnades, effigy vessels, and horned-serpent imagery. However, the
presence of such items need not have required managerial overlords from the south
(McGuire 1980). Perhaps the biggest gap in this monumental interpretation is the lack of
evidence from the so-called satellite villages. The JCGE only excavated at two sites
believed to be contemporary with Paquimé (Di Peso et al. 1974:5:856-865). At Reyes
Site 1, a single room was excavated and at Reyes Site 2, four rooms, two plazas, and two
pits were excavated. It is clear that the Reyes settlements differed from Paquimé in
numerous ways but despite those differences, little evidence supports the claim that they,
and all other sister settlements were subjects of the leadership seated at Paquimé.
37
Near and Far Organization around Paquimé
With one exception (De Atley and Findlow 1982), it was not until the early 1990s
that researchers armed with data began to address Paquimé’s footprint across the
landscape. To date, none of their research supports the claim that Paquimé singularly
commanded surrounding communities in the way Di Peso envisioned. The following
discussion focuses on the overarching theme expressed in recent research, that is, the
relationships between Paquimé and its surrounding neighbors and how those relationships
are measured and expressed. The data come from southwestern New Mexico on the
north, from the Santa Maria valley on the east, from west-central Chihuahua to the south,
from the Sierra Madre on the west, and from settlements more immediately
circumscribing Paquimé, and this is the area I refer to as the Casas Grandes world,
sphere, domain, or realm where Medio period ceramics, T-shaped doorways, adobe
architecture, and ball courts present a generalized pattern of Medio period life. It may be
worth noting that Casas Grandes pottery occurs at greater distances (AZSITE 2010;
Carpenter et al. 2006; Carpenter and Vicente 2009; Di Peso et al. 1974:8:143, Figure
149-8; Gallaga Murrieta 2006; Hayden 1957; Kelley 1951; Neuzil 2005).
The Near Hinterland
The longest, most comprehensive research effort near Paquimé was directed by
Michael Whalen and Paul Minnis who, through two decades of survey and excavation
have sought to characterize Medio period organization and Paquimé’s integration and
interaction with surrounding settlements (Whalen and Minnis 2001b, 2009). Most
38
recently, Whalen and Minnis (2009:6-11) operate in the belief that levels of elaboration
and the presence of certain goods and facilities of production can profitably measure
organizational hierarchy and they have characterized Paquimé’s leadership as
establishing and perpetuating themselves through power strategies of economy and
ideology. Signifiers of authority include sophisticated architecture, domination of
prestige goods, mobilization of agricultural production, and use of ritual architecture.
More specifically, ball courts, massive subterranean ovens, large agricultural fields
identified by stone features, and over-engineered and eccentric architecture are identified
as markers of authority. With the exception of large agricultural fields, all the items just
listed are concentrated at Paquimé.
I address ball courts, ovens, and agricultural fields more specifically in Chapter 8
as part of a discussion of the Casas Grandes ritual landscape, but generally, Whalen and
Minnis see these items as facilities for both ritual and economic production. Here I draw
attention to their use of “architecture of power.” Taking the term from the noted
Mississippian archaeologist Thomas E. Emerson (1997), Whalen and Minnis are cued by
additional studies that recognize the correlation between architecture and authority.
Whalen and Minnis (2001) interpret over-engineered architecture in the Casas Grandes
world, such as thick adobe walls and eccentrically shaped rooms, as non-verbal
communication about the identity of those who dwell within and their social status. As
will be discussed in subsequent chapters, architecture of power is represented at Cerro de
Moctezuma in a variety of ways.
39
Whalen and Minnis believe that the presence of these attributes at some
settlements but not others indicates settlement specialization in activities that parallel
those at Paquimé but that no one settlement appears to be responsible for the
comprehensive civic, economic, and religious interests so obviously represented at that
great center (Whalen and Minnis 2009). By these measures, most of Paquimé’s
neighboring settlements in and near the Casas Grandes Valley are composed of adobe
architecture with few recognizable extramural features that indicate activities beyond
simple day-to-day activities. Of course additional research could expose activities yet
unseen, and questions linger about the role played by the large settlement of Galeana in
the neighboring Santa Maria Valley, about 40 km southeast of Paquimé (Cruz Antillón et
al. 2004).
Figure 2.2a-d shows four settlements from Whalen and Minnis’ work in the Casas
Grandes heartland. These settlements were selected for observation here because they
recently have been excavated and their artifact assemblages served as a basis of
comparison in Chapter 6 to El Pueblito’s artifact assemblage. Moreover, they represent
settlement diversity and are foundations for Whalen and Minnis’ characterization of
Medio period organization. What is immediately noticeable is that the settlements are not
mirror images. Whalen and Minnis (2009:12-40) describe Sites 231 and 317 as small and
ordinary, Site 204 as large, and Site 242 as an administrative center. Site 231 consists of
thin-walled (ca 30 cm) adobe architecture, now a mound of collapsed walls and roofs,
and one outdoor feature that was identified as a stone footing. Nearly 50 percent of
recorded settlements are of this kind. Nothing in the way of architecture or artifacts
40
appears to distinguish such settlements from each other. Site 204 is large by regional
standards and its ball court and ovens indicates that is was the locus of ritual activity
involving more than the settlement’s residents. It too has the thin-walled variety of
domestic architecture.
a. Site 231.
b. Site 317.
c. Site 204.
d. Site 242.
Figure 2.2a-d. Four excavated Medio period settlements showing variability in settlement
composition. All figures redrawn from Whalen and Minnis (2009:Figure 1.23, 1.19, 1.4, 1.26).
41
While small, Site 242 is of note for several reasons, including the several stone
arcs encircling the adobe mound. It is the only known settlement outside of Paquimé
with an earthen mound, and that mound is associated with a ball court, a combination of
ritual architecture only seen at Paquimé. Excavation revealed that the walls at this site
are uncommonly robust at about 50-60 cm wide and there is a room with 14 walls. The
eccentrically shaped room and the thick walls are examples of Casas Grandes architecture
of power (Whalen and Minnis 2001). Site 242 also is associated with a rock agricultural
complex far larger than would be needed to provision the site’s residents; in fact, it is the
largest recorded upland agricultural complex in the near area of Paquimé (Minnis et al.
2006). Accordingly, Minnis and his colleagues (Minnis et al. 2006) argue that the
residents were responsible for organizing economic production that possibly helped fund
the elite at Paquimé. Because Site 242 has signifiers of authority in architecture, ritual
facilities, and agriculture, Whalen and Minnis (Whalen and Minnis 2001a) contend that it
was a specialized settlement or an administrative node of Paquimé.
Recently, Minnis and colleagues (2006) have added El Pueblito as a specialized
settlement because of its associated and extraordinarily large agricultural complex, the
second largest in the region, but I believe that the settlement, and by extension, Cerro de
Moctezuma was for more than agricultural surplus production. As will be clear in
subsequent chapters, with the exception of Paquimé, El Pueblito is the most complexly
composed settlement among its contemporaries by having different types of architecture
in forms easily considered architecture of power, different kinds of extramural features,
42
trails, and an unequalled ritual summit precinct. In short, Cerro de Moctezuma represents
a specialized use of space in Medio times related to ritual authority.
Because Whalen and Minnis see differential distribution of features and
settlement complexity nearer and farther from Paquimé, they believe that the preeminent
center performed most functions related to economy, politics, and ritual within a few
kilometers of that settlement. The signifiers of authority are absent or nearly so within
that short distance, although Cerro de Moctezuma, a ritual destination, is clearly inside
this near zone of authority, leading to the conclusion in this dissertation that Cerro de
Moctezuma was crafted by Paquimé’s elite. Beyond that near zone, differential
distribution of features and settlement complexity indicate that Paquimé’s control was
limited to a few specialized settlements such as Site 242. In addition, Whalen and Minnis
(2009:7) believe there to have been settlement clusters (e.g., Tinaja, Alamito) within
about 30 km of Paquimé that internally provided the full range of economic, ritual, and
political matters that are most comprehensively represented at Paquimé.
The large Site 204 in the Tinaja arroyo valley would have been a focal point of
one of the within-30-km subsystems, but again, no one settlement in that system covered
the range of specialized interests as seen at Paquimé. For example, although Site 204
was large and catered to public events it lacked the architectural sophistication that
Whalen and Minnis see as an important signifier of centralized authority from Paquimé.
Thus, although some form of managerial control extended beyond Paquimé, there were
independent sectors near the Casas Grandes Valley suggesting that integration with
Paquimé was not comprehensive. If Paquimé had complete control of the hinterland we
43
presumably would see miniature versions of that center across the Casas Grandes
domain. Whalen and Minnis (1999, 2001b) have used both core-periphery and peer
polity models to describe their survey and excavation results, and although they are
primarily guided by a political-economic perspective, their work provides a valuable
foundation for an explicit consideration of the Casas Grandes ritual landscape by
recognizing the importance of ritual features, in particular ball courts and communalsized pit ovens (Minnis and Whalen 2005; Minnis et al. 2006; Whalen and Minnis 1996).
The Far Hinterland
What is described for far areas east and south of Paquimé (Santa Maria and
Carmen Valleys, Babicora Basin) indicates a generalized pattern of architecture and
material culture not unlike the majority of sites near Paquimé that were just described as
relatively simple, lacking public architecture and other characteristics of differentiated
settlement (Cruz Antillón et al. 2004; Cruz Antillón and Maxwell 1999; Kelley et al.
1999). Assumptions of the researchers just cited appear not far from ideas expressed by
Whalen and Minnis; more specifically, they invoke the presence and absence of artifacts
and specialized features to judge interaction and integration with Paquimé. No massive
ovens are currently known from these southern and eastern sectors, and stone agricultural
systems are unknown except for one of uncertain size in the neighboring Santa Maria
Valley (Cruz Antillón et al. 2004). Likewise, ball courts are conspicuously rare, with
only one in west-central Chihuahua (Cunningham 2009) and three in southwest New
Mexico (Skibo et al. 2002). If these features acted as forums of social order (Whalen and
44
Minnis 2009:6), then Paquimé’s influence operated over a larger arena than proposed by
Whalen and Minnis, although the uneven distribution of those facilities might still
indicate that the great center did not have comprehensive control.
In general, imported items such as marine shell, copper, and ceramics found at
Paquimé are nonexistent or are present at much lower frequencies in southern and eastern
areas, but this may not be idiosyncratic of those areas because Whalen and Minnis report
similarly low numbers of these items from settlements nearer Paquimé. The contrasts in
imported goods suggests that settlements far east and south had little interaction with
Paquimé, but again by this measure it appears that Paquimé dominated the distribution of
prestige goods, as proposed by Whalen and Minnis. On the other hand, Carpenter
(2002:157) suggests that the dearth of certain items at a distance from Paquimé may
reflect that fact that those items were not necessary to promote or legitimize relations
with Paquimé. The idea that interaction with Paquimé can be linked to the presence and
frequencies of nonlocal items is an empirical question currently without systematic
attention. Analysis of the kinds of imports and their frequency on settlements across
extended areas surrounding Paquimé would go far toward a better interpretation of the
data and attendant social, political, and economic implications.
Chipped stone, ground stone, and subsistence items in areas both south and east of
Paquimé appear to be locally derived and controlled but otherwise not uniquely different
from nearer Paquimé. Ideological connections seem consistent across distant sectors if
we consider the presence of turkey burials and macaw cages, which are conspicuous at
Paquimé; subfloor human inhumations; and the presence of common motifs on ceramics
45
types such as Ramos and Babicora polychromes as reliable symbolic indicators (Kelley et
al. 1999; Minnis et al. 1993). Commonalities shared by Paquimé and these areas suggest,
as Kelley and her coauthors put it, “an overall pattern of loosely assembled social
organization, with subscription to common beliefs and practices that were defined in
local terms” (Kelley et al. 1999:74).
It is unfortunate that similar assessments cannot be made of settlements in the
Sierra Madre Occidental to the west of Paquimé. Open air and cave sites in the
mountains are Casas Grandes-related but they have been so little investigated and
reported that characterizing them beyond the simplest denominator would be risky (see
Bagwell 2006; Gamboa Carrera and Mancera-Valencia 2008; Lister 1958; Luebben et al.
1986). What seems clear is that these settlements shared common beliefs or participated
in an ideology associated with Casas Grandes, as implied by the presence of Ramos
Polychrome and at least one ball court as minimally reliable, although participation may
not have been spread equally across the mountain zone.
Thus, no single measure points to Paquimé having complete control of the vast
Casas Grandes world as originally proposed by Di Peso. Researchers in the Casas
Grandes heartland, to the north in southwest New Mexico, to the east in the Santa Maria
and Carmen Valleys, to the south in west-central Chihuahua, and in the mountainous
zone all express opinions that their respective studies show economic and political
independence from Paquimé, although Paquimé certainly could be seen as dominating
some aspects of prestige economy, iconography, and ideology.
46
Shamans, Cults, Ball Courts, and Hilltop Features
Given the early scholarly focus on economy, manufacturing, and trade, Cordell
(1997:413) imagined that religion might have had more to do with “gluing” together the
Casas Grandes world than was then currently fashionable (also see Phillips 2002b).
Ritual and religious perspectives on Casas Grandes, and more specifically Paquimé, are
not new. Di Peso believed strongly in the presence of Mesoamerican cults and that a
locally crafted religious ideology accounted for the widespread commonality between
Paquimé and its neighbors (Di Peso 1974:2:333, 546-582). More recently, Fish and Fish
(1999) and Whalen and Minnis (2001b) have echoed Di Peso’s contention that Paquimé
was perhaps a pilgrimage center, and now we are beginning to see more exploration of
religion and ritual as a source of leadership.
For example, Christine VanPool and Todd VanPool (2007) model religious and
political leadership through imagery on polychrome vessels. More specifically, they
interpret certain iconography as depicting shamans and their transformation into the spirit
world. Communication with the supernatural gave rise to and legitimized the authority of
these practitioners as mediators of Medio period cosmology and thusly, in the face of
aggregation and scalar stress, they became the leaders of Medio period Casas Grandes.
New social norms were encoded on polychrome vessels that fostered “proper” behavior
(VanPool and VanPool 2007:133). Whalen (2008) has expressed reservations that
shamans harnessed all-inclusive political, economic, and social power. Shamans may
serve in priestly roles, be full-time specialists, and rank as extremely powerful individuals
but it appears that they are unlikely to be consummate leaders (Eerkens 2010:78-79;
47
Miller and Taube 1993; Winter 2000). More specifically with regard to Paquimé and the
Casas Grandes world, it is difficult to envision shamans capitalizing on ideologies that
led to massive constructions such as ball courts, ovens, high-rise architecture,
colonnades, earthen mounds, and inspired supra-regionally unprecedented concentrations
of non-local copper and shell at that preeminent settlement (for shell and copper
discussions see Bradley 1999; Vargas 2001). Moreover, other than through encoded
rules and spirit journeys, it is not clear how the proposed shamanic leadership operated
and from where other than Paquimé leadership emanated. Nevertheless, the VanPools
have taken the study of Medio period iconography to a new level.
Ravesloot (1994) believed that cosmology or access to ritual knowledge and
information was a major source of power for elites at Paquimé, who used monumental
architecture and a mortuary program to broadcast their positions to their community. In
addition, Ravesloot proposed a “cult of the dead” focused on fertility, water, and
regeneration. Following Ravesloot and bringing together the mortuary program at
Paquimé with other prominent attributes, such as ball courts, ceramic iconography, and
sacrifice, Rakita (Rakita 2009; Rakita 2001) extended Ravesloot’s cult concept in dual
fashion, seeing not only a cult of fertility but also a political cult based in ancestral rights.
Both Ravesloot and Rakita depend solely on data from Paquimé, however, so that the
operation of cults beyond that center remains murky.
Harmon (2006; 2005) uses the existence of two ball court styles to argue for
“cults” or “ball court complexes” involving both private rituals concerned with fertility
and public rituals of display aimed at legitimizing elite ranks. The fertility rituals are
48
again not easily extended to Paquimé’s neighbors because the associated style of
elaborated ball court is not replicated elsewhere. However, Harmon believes that
competitive displays took place among other communities. Finally, three Casas Grandesstyle ball courts at large sites dating to the locally recognized Animas phase in southwest
New Mexico have been interpreted as scenes of celestial-based games related to fertility
rituals observed within the Casas Grandes religious interaction sphere (Walker and Skibo
2002).
Rituals and observances of various natures must have occurred across the Casas
Grandes landscape. As Polly Schaafsma (1998:40) writes, surely “ritual activity was
carried out away from Paquimé itself.” Schaasfma’s idea is based on preliminary and
limited data from rock art around the great center of Paquimé, but if she is correct, the
content, in particular horned serpents and cartouche, and the placement of rock art at
springs, overlooking watercourses, and near settlements suggests a structured landscape
with cosmological and social relevance. Of course, ball court rituals, whether civic or
religious, or both, surely occurred, but the nature of the ball court games remains
equivocal (Harmon 2006; Walker and Skibo 2002; Whalen and Minnis 1996, 2001b). In
addition, approximately 35 large pit ovens located across the region most likely were
facilities for roasting large quantities of food for feasting (Jones 2003; Minnis and
Whalen 2005; Minnis et al. 2006:716).
I seek to add another dimension to the ritualized Medio period landscape, in
particular drawing attention to hill features in the region and on Cerro de Moctezuma that
were initially reported by Di Peso (1974:2) and subsequently investigated by Swanson
49
(1997). Swanson recorded features on hills with varying morphological characteristics
and classified them as platform cairns, cairns, enclosures, room blocks, and breastworks,
and he used a geographic information system to analyze the intervisibility of, specifically,
platform cairns as signaling stations. Swanson concluded that platform cairns create a
dense and highly intervisible system, with Cerro de Moctezuma being the most
intervisible among Chihuahuan hill sites. It should be noted that there is not a platform
cairn atop Cerro de Moctezuma; rather, as described in Chapter 4, its summit supports an
imposing complex of features unlike any other hill site example. In a later expansion of
his work, Swanson (2003) argues for a multifunctional interpretation of the system that
includes the possibilities of military, social, and ritual signaling. Ball courts, pit ovens,
and hill features are further explored in the final chapter of this dissertation. There, I
adopt a ritualized landscape approach to suggest that those features and facilities had
different organizational properties and therefore may have involved different realms and
scales of ritual and would have provided leadership opportunities outside Paquimé.
SUMMARY
The interpretation of the Casas Grandes region has been gauged by our
understanding of Paquimé, the largest most elaborate Medio period settlement. Economy
weighed heavily in the original interpretation of that site, and political sway was centered
there as well. While religion was not absent from Di Peso’s interpretation, it was not
considered a foremost integrative force. More recently, some researchers have
deemphasized economy while drawing attention to possibilities of religion and ritual as
50
primary sources of leadership and as implicit instruments in shaping relationships in the
Medio period. Cerro de Moctezuma, although squarely within the Casas Grandes
heartland and the most unusual settlement among its contemporaries except Paquimé, has
not been a focus of systematic research or consideration in interpretations of the Medio
period landscape. The following chapter explores key theoretical concepts that orient the
remaining chapters on Cerro de Moctezuma and the Casas Grandes ritual landscape.
51
CHAPTER 3 – SETTING THE THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK
Interpreting Medio period Casas Grandes is not a straightforward task. Direct
insights are not available from ethnohistorical accounts nor is it clear from which
descendent communities to draw interpretative inspiration (cf. Van Dyke 2008:38).
Accordingly, a suite of theoretical positions and analogy provide sources of explanation
for patterns in the material residues of Medio period life. I freely draw upon theories of
architecture, performance, landscape, and ritual as baseline concepts to investigate the
use of space on Cerro de Moctezuma, its role in Medio period organization, and the
Medio period ritual landscape. A ritualized landscape approach offers a perspective that
has not been previously explored for the Medio period.
Implicit in the discussion presented in Chapter 2 is a general consensus on the
lack of coercion and force on the part of Medio period leadership; in addition, fully
institutionalized accumulation and redistribution of material wealth does not appear to
have played a major role in social and economic inequalities. Although non-local copper,
shell, and ceramics appear to be overwhelmingly present at Paquimé and scarce
elsewhere in the Casas Grandes world, the reasons for that uneven distribution remain
unclear at present. The basis of leadership arises in many forms and in societies where
force and economic redistribution are less a central part of social control, ritual and
religion may play a central role in societal structure and organization (Aldenderfer 1993;
Burns and Laughlin 1979; Knapp 1988; Mills 2000; Potter and Perry 2000; Reyman
1982; Sanner 1995; Whiteley 1987).
52
A focal point of Whalen and Minnis’ work is demonstrating the level of
complexity and hierarchy in Medio period Casas Grandes. I do not explore that
perspective explicitly and instead move toward understanding Casas Grandes
organizational complexities, in particular by observing ritual communities and leadership.
This perspective is not without precedent, particularly in the northern Southwest United
States among researchers studying Chaco Canyon. As Mills (2002) observes in her
overview of Chacoan research, defining complexity has become muted in favor of newer
questions on how Chaco was organized. Moreover, she concludes that many Chacoan
scholars are agreeing that power was not invested in a centralized polity but rather
developments in and outside of Chaco Canyon were more directly related to ritual
organization.
LANDSCAPE
One way to approach the questions presented in Chapter 1 is through a landscape
perspective. I understand landscape in two ways, first as archaeological methodology
and second as a process of social life among any past or present group of people in all
societal forms. As a methodology, landscape archaeology is an outgrowth from, and
reaction to, settlement pattern studies (Willey 1953) that seek to discover settlements and
to evaluate arrangements and functions of sites across space as necessary first steps to
understanding social processes. A landscape approach builds on settlement studies in
many ways but it is particularly useful for considering places that do not easily conform
to settlement typologies and it serves as a unifying concept to various guises of “off-site”
53
and “non-site” archaeologies (Anschuetz et al. 2001; Snead et al. 2009). Snead and his
coauthors (2009:3) consider the concept of landscape to facilitate observations on
previously ignored archaeological data, thereby incorporating them into broader
discussions. Landscape archaeology facilitates answering a question long ago posed by
Evon Vogt (1956:181-182), “Why are some sites not economically or ecologically
situated?” Vogt continues, suggesting that cultural beliefs may have played a part in the
selection of some settlement locations, a point to which this dissertation is directed.
Landscapes encompass more than settlements by including broadly imagined and
physical elements that are understood by their relationships to each other and to people.
Tilley (1994:23) observes that landscape is both “medium for and outcom of action and
previous actions.” Landscapes can be studied by considering cognitive, formal,
historical, relational, and ideological dimensions (Whittlesey 2009). The physical
environment should be included in discussion of landscapes because as people interact
with nature they continually model and reshape their worldviews or the cognitive field.
Landscapes also are the result of past actions that influence the way people assign
meaning to their social and physical environments that in turn affect the organizational or
relational properties of societies.
The study of landscapes, then, articulates physical, social, ideological, and
perceptional spheres (Basso 1996; Ingold 1993; Knapp and Ashmore 1999; Zedeño and
Bowser 2009). Paths, trails, and roads; shrines, monuments, temples, and palaces;
gardens and fields; caves and promontories; springs, rivers, and lakes; and rock art are
not just mere components of landscapes and backdrops of human action, they are places
54
of thought and meaningful actions of people that create memory, identity, social order,
and transformation. Some constructions by ancient people of the southwest United
States, for example, appear to have been metaphors of cosmologically important places of
the physical world and thus created and reinforced identity at distances from the referent
(Snead 2008:90; Whittlesey 2007). Shrines, trails, and rock art in northern New Mexico
are tangible markers of social order (Sneed 2008). Despite the purported competition
between these communities, patterned responses to the physical and social environment
indicate meaningful and active landscapes of identity, transformation, and memory.
Landscapes are borne out of making places and experiencing and knowing other
places and times such that sentiments and feelings move with people as they live;
meanings of places are not forgotten upon departure (Basso 1996; Derks 1997; Hirsch
1995; Ingold 1993; van Dommelen 1999; Van Dyke 2008:238; Zedeño and Bowser
2009). Bender (1993:9) describes landscapes as “palimpsests of past activities in
people’s lives.” As people move about their worlds landscapes can change or shift focus
and they are not just echoes of activity but “act back” giving people understandings of
themselves (Bender 1993:9). Places of landscapes are where “bonds are developed, lands
are made homelands, order and power are created and negotiated, and experiences are
anchored (Zedeño and Bowser 2009:8)
Landscape theory is particularly useful for considering all the related facets of
Cerro de Moctezuma including an impractical location of habitation that is uniquely
positioned in an otherwise patterned settlement with respect to water and arable land.
Moreover, landscapes as compositions of places bring Casas Grandes hinterland hill sites
55
into a socially meaningful relationship with the summit precinct atop Cerro de
Moctezuma. A landscape perspective also provides a framework from which to consider
the relationship between Paquimé, Cerro de Moctezuma, and hinterland settlements and
the communities they form.
RITUALIZATION AND RELIGION
A critical point of Knapp and Ashmore’s (1999) discussion of landscapes is that
they are created and experienced not only in quotidian life but also in specialized
observances. As a form of communication, rituals, especially of a collective nature, offer
a specific form of discourse that describes and expresses conditions that are referenced
and expected in daily life (Bell 1992; Burns and Laughlin 1979; Sekaquaptewa and
Washburn 2004). As people go about routines and move into and out of prescribed
occasions, landscapes and rituals intertwine as cultural process and practice. Bell (1992)
refers to ritualization as differentiated action that specifically establishes a privileged
contrast between certain practices, and it is through this process that some dominant
concerns of society are particularly visible. Moreover, ritualization is a culturally and
temporally specific strategy of production meant to distinguish some activities from
others and it ascribes realities to those distinctions that are thought to transcend the power
of humans.
Several themes discussed by Bell (1992) and noted elsewhere include central
place ritual practices that incorporate localized elements but in more elaborate and
stylized performances, autonomous social groups with ceremonies that vary only in
56
minor details yet are indistinguishable in purpose, and the nested importance of locations
with respect to the overarching tenets, values, and cosmology of a preeminent center or
belief system (Brown 2004; Dozier 1970:203, 209-210; Harvey 1991:93; Kus and
Raharijaona 2000; Ware and Blinman 2000). Ritualization is a malleable strategy that
allows for variation in content, themes, and actions. Furthermore, it is a process that
crosscuts kinship, ethnicity, language, and politics. Every member or participant in the
actions of ritualization might not identically recognize meanings, but more than a few
people understand the overarching messages and significance. Moore (2005:126)
provides such examples of crosscutting membership from Andean sacred places, and
adopts Turner’s (1974:184) concept of “ritual topography” to describe the broad
geographic catchment and varied social interests focused upon oracular shrines. As
described by Bell (1992) and Moore (2005:126), ritual draws upon diverse interests.
Ritualization, then, also can be considered a system of beliefs that bring order and
meaning to the world. In the ethnographic Puebloan southwest United States and
beyond, the relationship between native groups, land, and environment is of religious
significance. This relationship was expressed by Zingg (1938:351) for the Huichol as,
“there are tongues in trees, books in running brooks, sermons in stones.” Supernatural
and natural realms are intimately structured and are accessed through religious practices
involving ritual or “ceremonialism” (Dozier 1970; Lamphere 1983; Lumholtz 1902:126135; Zingg 1938). The importance of these practices is life-critical. Ritual specialists
hold a reservoir of expert knowledge and are responsible for maintaining and scheduling
the ceremonial cycle. Crucial responsibilities situate these specialists into what otherwise
57
is referred to as sociopolitical positions or elite status (Brandt 1980, 1994; Reyman
1982). Ritual paraphernalia, architecture, and religious retreat locations found across
Puebloan landscapes indicate the potential for identifying ceremonialism in
archaeological contexts.
Archaeologists often approach the study of religion from a ritual perspective
because ritual can be tangible and because knowing the specifics of prehistoric belief
systems is less straightforward. This approach sees ritual as enacting coded religious
principles that are interpreted from within a range of lived experience (Barrett 1991;
Fogelin 2007). Several papers collected by Hegmon demonstrate the relevance of
studying religion and ritual in the past, especially at the scale of archaeological culture,
such as the Casas Grandes world (Hegmon et al. 2000:6, 13-14). Insights from these
researchers include archaeological signatures and roles of religious practice across shared
landscapes, that is, religious action leaves behind patterned residues and is a thread of
commonality through broadly recognized prehistoric social configurations. Believing
that religion is a pervasive organizing principle of societies, VanPool and her colleagues
(2006) compiled research that considers prehistoric southwestern religious expressions
from the material to the symbolic (see especially Ruscavage-Barz and Bagwell 2006;
Zavala 2006). Ball courts in southern Arizona are elements of social order having
integrative measures. These localized facilities have been interpreted not only as scenes
of a version of the Mesoamerican ballgame that had cosmological directive, but also as
accommodating regional integration rooted in ideological beliefs and ceremonial
practices (Wilcox 1991; Wilcox and Sternberg 1983; Wilkerson 1991).
58
Cosmologically oriented practices and material outcomes in the prehistoric
southwest United States also are widely recognized in the Katsina and Southwestern
Cults (Adams 1991; Crown 1994). Both cults served in different ways to bind members
of communities, reinforcing senses of identity and place in the world. The Katsina Cult
ritually integrated villagers and allowed leaders to enhance their power through control of
secret knowledge. The cult had both public and private aspects, most conspicuously seen
as enclosed plazas used for communal observance and ceremonial structures (kivas) with
access restricted to certain social segments. The Southwestern Cult was a belief system
associated with so-called Salado polychromes, a set of ceramic types with a particular
color combination and iconography. The cult is believed to have integrated disparate
social constituencies through overarching tenets devoted to earth and fertility.
In ritualized landscapes, material culture and the environment are coded with
knowledge of how the world works and people respond to these codes through
experience. Ritual communicates, but messages are interpreted within a range of lived
experience that allows for overarching themes that serve to combine and reconfigure
social groups. The Casas Grandes settlement and excavation data described in the
previous chapter point to broadly distributed cultural affinities but no researcher working
with the data is convinced that Paquimé exercised complete hegemony across the
associated landscape. Ritualization seems an appropriate vantage from which to
approach Medio period Casas Grandes considering the distribution of ritual facilities such
as ball courts, pit ovens, and hilltop shrines. As will be shown in the final chapter, those
59
items have certain distributional limitations but they occur in what were described as
autonomous political and economic subsystems.
CRAFTING AND MOVING THROUGH THE LANDSCAPE
Placecrafting, Trails, and Shrines of Engagement
If dominant concerns of society are particularly visible through ritualization as
contended by Bell, then differentiated production and action holds promise for
identifying and measuring ritualization in the past. Although not specifically addressed
by Bell, I consider production and action to include the built environment (Rapoport
1990). In many instances, builders expended considerable effort to demarcate places of
authority and significant destinations with cosmological imperatives. Such places might
include what Renfrew (2001) refers to as “locations of high devotional expression.”
Using the built environment as a strategy is especially visible in societies that convey
information materially (McGuire and Schiffer 1983), and where symbolic construction
facilitates ideology and social roles by investment in expensive material, overengineering, and specialized forms (Emerson 2003; Kantner 2003; Moore 2005; Nielsen
1995).
Nelson (2007) refers to this process as “placecrafting,” a succession of deliberate
acts through time that monumentalize, commemorate, and symbolize social and
cosmological ideals. Nelson sees placecrafting as a culturally specific, recursive strategy
between leaders and followers. In the northern southwest United States, Chacoan great
houses were testaments to central beliefs expressed most elaborately in Chaco Canyon
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and might have been re-conceptualized in memorable and novel ways later in time
(Kanter and Mahoney 2000; Van Dyke 2004a). I consider Cerro de Moctezuma an
instance of placecrafting for several reasons to be elaborated in the coming chapters.
Immediately observable traits include the extravagant use of adobe on a hill, the overbuilt
and unique masonry architecture, the incomparable summit feature, and the massive
agricultural complex.
An over-emphasis on monumentality and expense suffers from missing, ignoring,
or undervaluing less elaborate components of landscapes that are just as important in
facilitating ideology and beliefs as, for example, monumental Chacoan great houses. I
refer to corridors of travel that are usually classified according to levels of elaboration as
roads, trails, and paths (Earle 1991). Inka roads and associated shrines, and Maya roads
with altars, vaulted arches, and ramps were certainly monumental and crafted to facilitate
political and religious ends, but other routes of movement, usually referred to as paths or
trails, and their wayside features are often far less conspicuous and elaborate (Creel 2006;
Folan 1991; Hyslop 1984; Johnston and Johnston 1957; Motsinger 1998; Robertson
1983; Titiev 1937; Wilcox et al. 1981). However, from a ritualized landscape
perspective, variability and informality is of less concern because the focus is on context
and association, which, as Snead and his colleagues (Snead et al. 2009:4) write, “provides
a much stronger source for inference and interpretation” than typological structures.
Context and association bear particular relevance for studying Cerro de Moctezuma’s
trails and trail features because they are not of the monumental kinds found in
Mesoamerica, for example, and there are no direct ethnographic examples from which to
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draw interpretive insight. In succeeding chapters I consider Cerro de Moctezuma’s
infrastructure within a range of appropriate archaeological and ethnographic examples as
well as from the vantage of additional theories introduced below. When these features
are regarded in the broader landscape they gain additional perspective as elements in a
sacred geography.
Trails and wayside features represent “landscapes of movement” that structure
and reflect human life, enacting different social domains (Snead et al. 2009:1). Wayside
features are known archaeologically from across the southwest United States. Rock
borders, rock accumulations, and rock circles along routes in the southwestern Arizona
were undoubtedly no less significant than more elaborate versions elsewhere for those
who created and experienced them (Phillips and Rozen 1982). Rock circles on the edges
of cliffs around Chaco Canyon are associated with access to the canyon bottom and are
intervisible with great houses and shrines, indicating ritual or religious value (Windes
1978). Trail features in New Mexico’s Pajarito Plateau are not described with particular
emphasis on cosmological association, but the trails themselves lead to shrines (Snead
2002, 2008). Creel notes cairns and other possible wayside features along a road at Old
Town in southwest New Mexico. Specific meanings for these road and trail associated
features are unknown but given southwest United States and Mexican ethnography it is
tempting to consider them as physical nodes from which social and cosmological beliefs
were engaged.
Ethnographic description of trail features and comparable shrines across
indigenous landscapes contributes to the sense that although they are not epic
62
constructions they are places of offerings and embrace consequences important for
sustaining harmony, ensuring safe journeys, and appeasement to ancestors and creators
(Fewkes 1891; Hough 1907; Jett 1994; Rogers 1933; Thompson et al. 1997; Titiev 1937).
Ellis (1994:104) writes that Pueblo shrines are like a “supernatural switchboard,” and
Rina Swentzell (Thompson et al. 1997), a native of Santa Clara Pueblo, offers these as
places of communion with the universe. Hopi and Tohono O’odham trail shrines are well
known but they are not always constructed features; rather, they often are natural
formations where offerings are placed and supplications made (Darling 2006; Ferguson et
al. 2006; Titiev 1937). In northern Mexico, the Tarahumara, Tepehuanes, and Huichol
add stones to rock piles as they are encounter along journeys. Such observances are
believed to relieve fatigue and encourage strength (Lumholtz 1902:181-182). Huichol
deities are part of the earth, in mountains and stones alike (Lumholtz 1902:132).
While trailside features contribute to the importance of routes, trails are also
places of engagement along which landmarks are noted, history recounted, and codes of
living learned (Basso 1996; Darling 2009; Darling and Lewis 2007; Ferguson et al.
2006). In “landscapes of movement” the journey is not exclusively about the destination
because journeys themselves condition personhood and broader social identities along the
way, engaging travelers not only with each other but also with the surrounding
environment (Cummings and Johnston 2007; Snead et al. 2009). Ancient Hopi trails are
believed to have been established by spiritual beings to connect people with each other
and with religious shrines (Ferguson et al. 2009). Trails and roads express relationships
between people, between people and places, and between people and deities. While used
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for everyday activities, some trails also serve in sacred and ritual observances or they can
have segregated uses and users (Ferguson et al. 2009; Hyslop 1984; Snead 2008).
Archaeologically, trails and roads are often more elaborate and visibly defined
near points of destination or places of significance. For example, Chacoan roads are
often much wider and demarcated with berms and herraduras (rock outlines) near great
houses (Kantner 1997; Roney 1992). These roads and associated features were likely
part of a sacred geography (Fowler and Stein 1992:116-118; Stein and Lekson 1992; Van
Dyke 2004b:424). Commenting on La Quemada in northern Mesoamerica, Nelson
(2007) considers road-building as an extension of the placecrafting process in an effort to
ritualize the landscape. Exciting new research in southern New Mexico has documented
trails at large Mimbres settlements (Creel 2006). Clearly, ethnographic and prehistoric
landscapes were active and marked in ways that set apart certain activities from others.
Pilgrimage
A particular type of movement through landscapes, and a form of ritualization is
pilgrimage, which can broadly be defined as a journey undertaken by a person with
religious motivation to a place of sacred value (Morinis 1992; Stoddard 1997).
Consideration of pilgrimages is relevant because Paquimé has been suggested as a
pilgrimage center (Fish and Fish 1999; Whalen and Minnis 2001b:199), and Cerro de
Moctezuma conforms to the attributes of a pilgrimage destination. Morinis (1992) and
Stoddard (1997) place the preceding definition into perspective. Pilgrimage events are
classified as frequent, annual, or rare, and the length of the journey usually involves
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longer travel than local. Motivation predominately encompasses religious agendas of
requesting favor, offering thanks, fulfilling vows and obligations, expressing penitence,
and gaining merit or salvation. Pilgrimage destinations most often are considered sacred
and can be arranged in hierarchies if more than one exists within a pilgrimage field or
catchment area. The location of pilgrimage events often requires strenuous journeys or
access. While some pilgrimage locations are often filled with masses of devotees, other
destinations are just as sacred because they inhibit large gatherings; ease of access and
mass popularity can diminish the sacredness of pilgrimage destinations. Preston
considers “spiritual magnetism” to be the power of a pilgrimage shrine or event to attract
followers and it develops from “human concepts and values via historical, geographical,
and social forces that coalesce in a sacred center” (Preston 1992:33). For Preston,
spiritual magnetism is the quality shared by all destinations regardless of their place
within the pilgrimage structure.
The preceding characterizations are largely drawn from pilgrimages involving
major world religions, and using just three of seven criteria that Stoddard (1997)
describes as important for defining pilgrimage, he was able to tally 27 different types of
pilgrimages. A more nuanced perspective of those circumstances can likewise be tailored
to levels appropriate to archaeological cases and more localized traditional belief
systems. Pilgrimages, then, represent a transformation from the everyday experience
during the act of moving through the landscape along routes to destinations with
anticipated outcomes. People from traditional societies to fully modern industrialized
nations embark upon journeys at varying scales as devotional expressions of faith.
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Pilgrims leave their familiar ground of home communities and territories to seek a place
or state that they believe embodies the values and ideals necessary for fulfilling that
which is sought. And while those ideals and values can be practiced at home or at more
local destinations, supra-local pilgrimage destinations often offer intensified versions that
can fulfill practices and needs that cannot be accomplished elsewhere.
The following examples illustrate a range of variability in pilgrimages but also
underscore central criteria of travel, special places, and significance to the journeyer.
These instances of pilgrimage were specifically selected based on their spatial, but not
temporal, relationship to the Casas Grandes world. Examples from more distant areas, of
course, could be included, for example, contemporary Andean pilgrims who perform
ritual dances enacting nature, society, and gods at regional shrines; or, delegates who
journey to the Njelele shrine in Zimbabwe to request rain for their communities (Mafu
1995; Poole 1991).
The idea of prehistoric pilgrimage in the southwest United States is not new.
Judge (Judge 1989:234-245; see also Kantner 2003) argued that Chaco Canyon was the
focus of periodic pilgrimages built on a structured ritual and exchange system. A
pilgrimage field of outlying communities provisioned the leaders in the canyon who
embedded favorable environmental conditions into the ritual structure. The ethnography
of the southern reaches of the southwest United States and northwest Mexico presents
different types of ritual. The Cora of Mexico embark upon week-long pilgrimages to
transport sacred water from the edges and center of each Cora community territory to
duplicate the meanings of ancestral territory that are encoded in communal dance
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ceremonies (Coyle 2000). Standardized rituals are performed at each point, but each
place has a unique meaning such that “joining the waters” at the final ceremonial
destination symbolically reproduces the world. Among the nearby Huichol, ceremonial
officers within the civic-religious hierarchy are required to conduct pilgrimages to five
sacred places. But in addition, to sustain their world, officers recreate the journey to an
eastern desert location that the first ancestor pilgrims undertook in creating the Huichol
world (Neurath 2000). Historically, both the Zuni and Hopi made dangerous and arduous
pilgrimages to sacred places to collect natural resources necessary for rituals (Ferguson
2007; Ferguson et al. 2006).
A modern example of pilgrimage involves thousands of people from three
different ethnic groups that descend upon Magdalena de Kino, Sonora, under Catholic
tenets (Dobyns 1960). Mexican nationals and native Yaqui and O’odham all make a
prescribed arduous journey to Magdalena for intercession from a saint whose statue
resides in the parish church; however, not all pilgrims share the same conception of who
is venerated. Griffith (1992) explains that while the statute is that of San Francisco
Xavier, the celebration occurs on the day assigned to Saint Francis of Assisi. The former
was a Jesuit and the latter was the founder of the Order of Friars Minor or Franciscans.
To complicate the matter, some believe that the statute of San Xavier in the parish church
is the representation of the person buried, and now exposed under a dome, in the church
plaza. The plaza burial is Father Eusebio Francisco Kino, a Jesuit who worked in the
area in the 1600s. Despite the varied perspectives on the saint’s identity, the underlying
belief of the multi-ethnic pilgrimage field is that the saint grants petitions. Moreover, the
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Fiesta of San Francisco illustrates that a range of disparate groups with different
perspectives participate in an overarching system of belief. As Griffith (1992:61) writes,
“…in Magdalena [the Yaqui] encounter a San Francisco who is a uniquely Yaqui
conception.”
The preceding examples show that pilgrimages share the common purpose of
travel to a special place for particular needs. Special places involve a central location,
ritual resources, and a ritually imbed object or objective. The needs are generally seen as
facilitating critical life cycles in the ethnographic examples. The pilgrimage to Chaco
Canyon focused on insuring a favorable subsistence environment, while San Francisco
fulfilled personal requests of pilgrims. It is clear that the criteria developed for
pilgrimage involving world religions do not sufficiently capture the full range of
meaning, movement, and behavior. Future work could challenge those criteria by
expanding the base of examples to include more ethnographically recorded instances of
regional-scale pilgrimage (cf. Astor-Aguilera and Jarvenpa 2008; Crumrine and Morinis
1991; Kubler 1984). Nevertheless, the essential nature of pilgrimage presented above
and these few examples provide a basis for considering pilgrimage in Medio period Casas
Grandes.
ARCHAEOLOGY AND ETHNOGRAPHY OF HILL USE IN MEXICO AND THE SOUTHWEST
UNITED STATES
Among many ethnographically recorded societies geographical features
specifically reference the ideals sought by pilgrims. Prominent among those features are
68
hill and mountains, which are widely recorded as places where the physical and spiritual
coincide, referencing cosmological ideals and beliefs (Bowen 1976; Brown 2004; Durán
1971; Ferguson et al. 2006; Griffith 1992; Heiras Rodríguez 2005; Isbell 1978; Ladd
1983; Lumholtz 1902; Rodríguez López and Valderrama Rouy 2005; Sundstrom 1996;
Townsend 1991; Vogt 1992; White 1942). Gods and ancestors dwell in these elevated
landscape features and they are often believed to be the source of life, of food, and
people; origins of rain; and locations of sacred shrines. Hills and mountains, then, are
invested with collective meaning that bears upon the continuity and well being of the
group.
Ritual specialists retreat to mountains, hills, and buttes for the common benefit of
society but ordinary people also are known to visit to these places, as among some
modern Maya groups that perform rites at shrines atop a sacred mountain to gain
desirable things or dispel troubles (Brown 2004). Likewise, any Zuni may at certain
times of the year visit sacred peaks to make personal offerings to the gods (Ladd
1983:174). According to Kubler (1984), Mesoamerican pilgrims to sacred elevated
landforms were of all social classes. Nevertheless, nobility, ceremonial officers, and
ritual specialists often are specifically associated with journeys to hills and mountains.
Ritual practitioners from Laguna, Acoma, Zuni, and Jemez travel to a mountain shrine to
pray for good crops and successful hunting (Snead and Preucel 1999:178). In Chiapas,
Tzotzil Maya shamans intercede in dual observances, at the bottoms and tops of hills
(Vogt 1992). Among the Huichol, ritual specialists and pilgrims gather atop
Kauyumaritzie hill, home of Elder Brother Kauyumári, for prescribed ceremonial
69
consumption of peyote (Schaefer 1996). Moreover, according to Lumholtz, the Huichol
landscape comprises complexes of god-houses and temples on hills and other visually
prominent locations where cosmologically sanctioned observances unfold among
religious officials. Native historical records from central Mexico document an intensive
ritual agenda on hills and mountains oriented toward ensuring the required amount of rain
for agriculture success (Nicholson 2003). The grandest ceremony within the cycle
occurred atop Mt. Tlaloc, where elite Aztec officials from across the Basin of Mexico
gathered in propitiation that included feasting and sacrifice.
Hill-focused ritual is not restricted to Mexican and southwest United States
geographies, of course. It is notable that elevated landforms have ceremonial and
cosmological significance elsewhere (Schutte 1978:120; Sundstrom 1996). In parts of
Africa, rain-control rituals are performed on elevated landforms associated with ancestors
or, in the case of multi-ethnic shrine locations, unallied spirits (Huffman 2009; Schoeman
2006; 2009:279). There also is a hierarchical system of rain-control, from local ritual to
regional shrine locations (Mafu 1995). A commonality through these ethnographic
instances of hill use is their cosmological nature and importance in the relationship
between society and nature.
Elevated landforms associated with ritual and cosmology are attributed parallel
ranges of significance that extend from the southwest United States into northern
Mesoamerica. According to Nelson (2007), locally variable traditions of
monumentalizing significantly prominent elevated places spans from Guanajuato,
Mexico, into southern Arizona. Modification of and habitation on hills, Nelson argues,
70
was ritually symbolic, defined social roles, and reinforced societal structures and central
ideological concepts. Such landscape features were created to evoke and direct
behaviors. Characterized as ceremonial centers or even cities on hills, these central,
landmark places document social power within realms of cosmological and ideological
significance. Cerro de Moctezuma’s prominent position within the Medio period
settlement pattern, its substantial habitation, its trails, and the summit feature fit squarely
within Nelson’s characterization of monumentalizing elevated landforms.
A recurrent set of stone enclosures and other constructions on hills in the
Trincheras Tradition of northern Sonora, Mexico, appears most comprehensive and
elaborate at the primate site of Cerro de Trincheras where the distribution of features and
artifacts indicate specialized precincts, including ritual loci (McGuire and Villalpando
2007; O'Donovan 2002). Fish and Fish (2007) interpret late prehistoric replication of
stone enclosures and related features on hills, in part, as a ritual landscape linked with
that preeminent center. Moreover, ideas and features appear to crosscut sectors of the
international borderlands, as Fish and Fish (2007) describe the use of hills and the
features on them as a pan-regional expression of fundamental beliefs crafted and
expressed variably under local conditions and at different times. Nevertheless, such
expression of cosmological belief reaches farther, as described earlier for central Mexican
rainmaking ceremonies. There, a massive walled enclosure and approaching corridor sit
atop Mt. Tlaloc wherein ceremonial beliefs were enacted (Nicholson 2003:Figure 6;
Townsend 1991). The similarities between this instance of placecrafting and associated
traits and Cerro de Moctezuma’s atalaya are striking (e.g., trail on a steep slope, massive
71
rock enclosure, interior constructions, restricted visual field). I believe that Cerro de
Moctezuma’s summit precinct and other hill features across the Medio period landscape
pertain to an essential pattern of ideologically influenced architecture on prominent hills
in late prehistoric times.
ARCHITECTURE
Architecture creates and mediates experience (Rapoport 1990). Architecture and
politics can converge to create as a message of social surplus in what Gregory Johnson
refers to as “piling behavior” (Johnson 1989:376; Nielsen 1995). Thomas Emerson
(1997) adds to this discussion in his treatment of architecture as material manifestations
of elite status and power. Emerson proposes that specialized and elaborate construction
across a region or within a rural population is associated with dominance and control.
Whalen and Minnis’ (2001a) similarly used “architecture of power” was referred to in the
preceding chapter for thick-walled and over-engineered architecture as a projection of
Paquimé’s authority. El Pueblito encompasses architecture of power in adobe and in
masonry, and the summit precinct certainly qualifies as a specialized construction among
its counterparts in the hinterland. Thus, an understanding of the relationship among
status, authority, and architecture will be key to evaluating El Pueblito’s residents and
their role in Medio period organization.
However, architecture is more than a product of labor investment and overt
political posturing because it shapes social interaction by defining public and private
access and privilege, influences movement, and creates visual perceptions through design
72
and location (Hall 1969; Moore 2005; Rapoport 1990). These are performance
characteristics that can be measured and mapped. The height of walls and the location
and direction of entryways contribute to the visual and physical access to structures,
plazas, and other differentiated spaces, while the placement of features directs or impedes
the flow of movement through them. I explore such architectural variables at El Pueblito
and on Cerro de Moctezuma in general. In the most basic examination of El Pueblito, it
is clear that some architecture directed circulation upon entering the settlement. There
are also obviously defined public spaces on El Pueblito. Inomata (2006) writes that
public spaces were a concern of Classic Maya rulers for performances that located
participants in social communion and dramatized moral and aesthetic values. The size of
public spaces obviously dictates accommodation of audience numbers, and visual and
auditory messages and cues not only depend on the size of architecture and public space,
but also on the position of participants (Leckman 2004; Moore 2005:98-101). El
Pueblito’s performance venues are explored according to ideas of communion, how
messages were conveyed, and audience size in order to consider how pilgrims were
accommodated within and among the architectural spaces.
A THEORETICAL FOCUS ON CERRO DE MOCTEZUMA
Landscape is a flexible yet powerful framework for considering diverse material,
conceptual, and natural features of societal interest when combined with additional
concepts such as ritualization, movement, performance, and architecture. Landscapes
involve the diverse physical and mental experiences and daily lives of their inhabitants
73
and thus encompasses multiple social, political, and religious domains. As they are
experienced, landscapes reinforce the individual’s place in the world and ways of
knowing the world. Rituals are a way of communicating events and conditions of life
and are, therefore, elements of landscapes as materialized and conceptualized by
societies. Places are built and conceived in ritualizing the landscape. As a strategy,
ritualization privileges some actions over others, leaving behind visible and measurable
markers of societal concerns. In ritualized landscapes, journeys represent a
transformation from the everyday experience to moving through the landscape along
specific routes to destinations with anticipated outcomes. Often those destinations are
elaborated versions of significant places in home communities, and for many indigenous
and prehistoric groups throughout much of Mexico and the southwest United States,
those destinations are associated with elevated landforms. I propose that Cerro de
Moctezuma was a locally unique ritual destination and that other hill sites served
community religious interests corresponding to a geographically widespread ideological
phenomenon involving the use of elevated landforms. The following two chapters
introduce the components of Cerro de Moctezuma in more detail with attention to
agricultural fields, trails, the summit feature, and the variety of architecture and features
on El Pueblito as revealed by mapping and excavations.
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CHAPTER 4 – CERRO DE MOCTEZUMA’S UPLAND FIELDS, CORRIDORS OF
MOVEMENT, AND CROWING PRECINCT
El Pueblito, agricultural fields, trails, and the hill summit precinct comprise Cerro
de Moctezuma’s four major components that register archaeological evidence of Medio
period activities. Each was studied as part of dissertation field research, although each
was not given equal priority as discussed below. The fields, trails, and the summit
features are presented in this chapter, while mapping and excavation at El Pueblito are
discussed in Chapter 5. No excavations were carried out among the agricultural features
or along trails, but both were mapped and serve to orient the hill as a place of settlement
and destination within the Medio period ritual landscape. The summit precinct was
mapped in order to clarify the configuration of the features and limited test excavations
were carried out to obtain information on the architecture and activities on the hilltop.
These four major components of Cerro de Moctezuma archaeology are important for
understanding how the hill was used in Medio times and how it contrasted to other
settlements across the landscape. Figure 4.1 shows the locations of fields, trails, El
Pueblito, and the summit feature.
CERRO DE MOCTEZUMA’S FIELDS OF POWER
Bandelier (1890-1892:564) may have been the first to have commented on Cerro
de Moctezuma’s agricultural complex, as he noted dikes or dams with fertile soil behind
them. Brand (1933:48) also observed the system and stated that the agricultural features
75
indicated “a normal settlement of the site.” But, Cerro de Moctezuma’s fields are far
from normal because together they comprise the second largest complex of stone features
currently on record in the near zone about Paquimé. Moreover, the fields may have
provisioned more than the residents and visitors to El Pueblito (Minnis et al. 2006).
Figure 4.1. Overview of Cerro de Moctezuma showing the locations of agricultural fields, trails, El
Pueblito, and the atalaya.
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Until recently the fields had not been systematically recorded, with only a sketch
map of the fields closest to El Pueblito in the Amerind Foundation archives. Those fields
are the northernmost two shown in Figure 4.1, comprised of a large and small field
directly below and to the west of El Pueblito, and they are the ones that were mapped
during this dissertation field research (Figure 4.2). Features in the fields were plotted
using compass and tape as they were opportunistically encountered; full coverage survey
was not attempted. The many drainages coming off the hill also have features often
referred to as check dams, low rock walls perpendicular to drainage courses, that could
have been horticultural features or water and erosion control devices (e.g., Herold 1965;
Luebben et al. 1986), but these were not mapped. Minnis and his colleagues (2006)
subsequently recorded the other fields shown in Figure 4.1 and they resurveyed the large
and small areas that I had previously mapped, finding only two or three more features
(Paul Minnis, personal communication 2005).
The features shown in Figure 4.2 cover approximately 38,000 sq m, comprising
64 terraces totaling 933 linear m, 178 rock piles, intermittently spaced and clustered
rocks, a massive subterranean oven, and a rock outline directly south of the oven that
could be a structure. Among the full complex, along Cerro de Moctezuma’s west side,
400 terraces totaling over 5000 linear m covers 400 ha (Minnis et al. 2006). Rock
terraces are interspersed between drainages as sets of straight, parallel, and more
complexly arranged lines that would have enhanced soil accumulation and water
catchment on the gentle slope setting and they parallel ethnographic and archaeological
summaries of facilities for agricultural production (Fish et al. 1992b; Maxwell and
77
Anschuetz 1992). The issue of what was grown behind terraces in Chihuahua remains
unresolved but the frequent proximity of the largest roasting pits with massive systems
suggests agave as one crop. Linear rock alignments (cross-slope terraces, check dams,
etc.) in Cerro de Moctezuma’s fields resemble linear features associated with agave
cultivation in southern Arizona (Doolittle and Neely 2004; Fish et al. 1984)
Figure 4.2. Two upland rock agricultural fields and massive oven that are part of a larger complex
along Cerro de Moctezuma’s west side.
78
The fields at Cerro de Moctezuma include dozens of rock piles as shown in Figure
4.2. These features are never more than about 1 m in diameter and are within the size
range of rock piles in the Hohokam region that have been interpreted as rock mulch (Fish
et al. 1992a). Available data in this proximate region indicate that rock piles protect and
enhance the growth of crop plants such as agave. Agave was almost certainly cooked in
the nearby subterranean oven (see Chapter 8). Cerro de Moctezuma’s oven is among the
largest of its kind in the region, consisting of an outer ring of rocks 1.85 m wide and 1617 m in diameter and a central pit of unknown size. But judging from burned rock
distribution the pit is most likely 3-5 m in diameter. Intermittent stones set on end
circumscribe the fire pit.
These kinds of rock fields are a specialized type of system in upland
environments and it is important to remember that the most productive fields for, say,
corn, were without doubt the irrigated ones on the floodplains of the major drainages.
Nevertheless, Minnis and his colleagues (2006) documented rock field systems in the
core area around Paquimé, finding that the largest ones, including Cerro de Moctezuma’s,
are associated with specialized settlements. Those researchers designate extraordinarily
large systems – more than needed to sustain the associated settlement – as “fields of
power,” meaning that they were extensions of the leadership at Paquimé and used to
produce surplus that was funneled to that settlement. These fields and products were
important in shaping and maintaining a settlement’s function and status among neighbors,
but surplus production could just as reasonably have been used in the hinterland for a
variety of reasons, including social elaboration of local leaders. Site 242 was described
79
in Chapter 2 as managing agricultural pursuits in the hinterland, and it is a notable site for
additional special attributes. El Pueblito is another specialized settlement associated with
the management of an unusual extent of slope fields, but that was not the only purpose of
the hill. While the fields at Cerro de Moctezuma were likely important in maintaining the
status of El Pueblito residents, other components suggest that the hill as a whole was a
pilgrimage destination.
CASAS GRANDES TRAILS
Di Peso et al. (Di Peso et al. 1974:Figure 284-5) published a map locating two
“trade trails” originating at Paquimé with trajectories into the nearby Sierra Madre
Occidental to the west. The basis for positioning these trails on a map comes from a
“study” of trails (Di Peso 1974:2:360-361). Unfortunately, the report lacks specifics. In
narrative, Di Peso contends that the trails are as wide as those in the Chaco area of New
Mexico, but we do not know where the Casas Grandes trails fall within the range of
widths known for Chacoan roads. Two “wayside houses,” found in the Sierra Madre
Occidental, are lightly referenced and apparently no other trailside features were
observed. These Casas Grandes trails have not been verified subsequent to the
publication of the map.
Whalen and Minnis (2001) noted trails during several survey projects around the
area of Paquimé, although the focus was to locate habitation sites (Michael Whalen,
personal communication 2007). Cruz Antillón and his collaborators refer to parallel
stone alignments that might indicate a trail in the neighboring Santa María River Valley
80
(Cruz Antillón et al. 2004). Although the alignments bear directly toward Paquimé, the
researchers just cited are cautious in placing the possible trail within a temporal frame
because they lack diagnostic chronological evidence for doing so. Finally, Swanson
(1997) notes a few trails associated with hilltop features but discussion of them is limited.
These trails do not appear to approach places of substantial habitation, as Cerro de
Moctezuma’s trails do. As part of dissertation fieldwork Cerro de Moctezuma’s trails
and heretofore unknown wayside features were mapped and recorded.
TRAIL SURVEY METHODOLOGY AT CERRO DE MOCTEZUMA
Trail archaeology consists of three basic phases: discovery, description or
definition, and interpretation (e.g., Hyslop 1984; Vivian 1983). The first step for
interpreting Cerro de Moctezuma’s trails, the task of discovery, was facilitated by early
accounts and sketch maps (Bandelier 1890-1892; Roney and Trumball 1983). In
addition, local informants proved equally useful for locating trails. In the present case,
the landowner directed me to trailside features and portions of trails not easily observed
or previously known. Another discovery tool used for the project was satellite imagery
on Google Earth, a virtual map and geographic information program.
The second step involved description and definition. The Cerro de Moctezuma
trail survey was guided by expectations found in reviews of trail archeology and
ethnography (Becker and Altschul 2003; Cleland and Apple 2003; Hyslop 1984; Jett
1994; Johnston and Johnston 1957; Kincaid 1983; Robertson 1983; Rogers 1933; Snead
2002; Trombold 1991; Wilcox et al. 1981). From the authors just cited, trails should
81
have measurable morphology, including length, width, and, sometimes, depth. Trails and
roads also have wayside associations including built features and artifacts, which can be
useful for interpreting the chronology of infrastructure. Description and definition, then,
involve obtaining spatial data or location, characterizing structural properties, recording
wayside features, and collecting and analyzing associated artifacts.
For the Cerro de Moctezuma trail survey, spatial data were collected using a
Garmin eTrex Vista GPS unit while surveying within trail margins. Because artifacts and
features often are located adjacent to trails, each side of a trail was surveyed by two
crewmembers at 2 m intervals, which was considered appropriate considering available
time and ground visibility. The transect interval was, however, flexible due to
topography. For example, along trails perpendicular to the hill slope more effort was
placed surveying down slope than up slope because it was anticipated that items would be
dropped or discarded and come to rest down- rather than up slope. When trailside
features were encountered, a 5-m radius around the feature was surveyed for artifacts. It
should be noted that the trail survey was performed as time and resources allowed
because a trail study was not considered in the original vision of the project. However, as
the project developed it became clear that trails formed an important component of Cerro
de Moctezuma archaeology. Recordation of trails and wayside features is illustrated in
Figure 4.3. Intensively surveyed trail segments are highlighted in yellow; other trail
segments were only surveyed for spatial data and feature associations to the extent that
one or two people could observe them.
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Figure 4.3. Cerro de Moctezuma’s known trails and wayside features. Trail segments that were
intensively surveyed are highlighted in yellow.
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CONNECTING PEOPLE AND PLACE: CERRO DE MOCTEZUMA’S TRAILS AND
WAYSIDE FEATURES
Bandelier (1890-1892) reported trails at Cerro de Moctezuma, briefly
summarizing that the four trails he observed ranged from about 1.0 to 2.5 m wide. He
disagreed with his local informants that the ancient people constructed entrenched trails,
instead believing them to be worn into the surface by travel. Bandelier might have been
correct but without excavation this distinction cannot be made at Cerro de Moctezuma,
except where lateral dirt berms are present along an entrenched walkway. Lumholtz
(1902) likely noticed the same trails as Bandelier but adds that in some places, the trails
are supported by down-slope rock berms. Blackiston (1906) reported more specifically
on an intermittent trail between Paquimé and Cerro de Moctezuma, observing that it was
most notable near the hill because it had a below grade walkway. According to
Blackiston, the locals referred to this trail as the “road of the Montezumas.” Montezuma
is a north Mexican term for a mound of collapsed adobe architecture (Bandelier 1892),
which is the condition of a major architectural unit at El Pueblito. Brand (1933) noted
trails approaching from the east and west sides of the hill, while Sayles (1933) remarked
that El Pueblito is reached by a path from Casas Grandes. Two sketch maps of trails at
the hill are known (Amerind Foundation Archives; Roney and Trumball 1983).
Cerro de Moctezuma is a striking natural landmark at the juncture of
prehistorically populated valleys and constitutes the topographic setting for El Pueblito.
Shear cliffs of rhyolite define three sides of the mesa on which El Pueblito sits, 250 m
above the surrounding valleys, making it difficult to reach. Therefore, we might expect
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infrastructure to be associated with the hill itself to facilitate its ascent. However, the
approach to Cerro de Moctezuma across surrounding gently rolling terrain, punctuated
with occasional low hills, is a seemingly unlikely setting for a scale of infrastructure
beyond that necessary to mark trail trajectories, such as simple rock alignments or cairns.
Yet, Cerro de Moctezuma’s trails generally are visually conspicuous as they cross easily
traversed approaches, implying they are significant features that served to connect people
to place in a highly visual and symbolic way.
Figure 4.3 shows that most of the trails converge at the north point and west side
of El Pueblito, the unique instance of habitation on a hill in Medio times, apparently with
full-time residents. However, the radiating trails about the hill originate from the
directions of valleys full of contemporaneous settlement, from which populations must
have traveled to and returned from Cerro de Moctezuma. I have chosen three key
identifiers to designate sets of trails based on where travelers using them would have
entered El Pueblito. Accordingly, these are referred to as the West, North, and South
Entrance trails, although trails with these designations do not necessarily originate from
the corresponding cardinal directions, as shown in Figure 4.3. As an example, the South
Entrance trail enters El Pueblito on its southern side but originates as a spur from one of
the West Entrance trails, that itself is a south-southwest trending pathway. Finally, one
major trail does not serve as an exterior approach into El Pueblito, but rather connects El
Pueblito and the summit at the south end of the hill. It is referred to as the atalaya trail.
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Two North Entrance Trails
Trail 112 with Wayside Feature 93
Trail 112 that leads toward the north side of El Pueblito has a steep course and is
one of the most intensively engineered trails on Cerro de Moctezuma. A massive down
slope rock berm supports the trail along its upper half to the point where it turns
northeast. The berm is significantly minimized or absent along the lower half of the trail,
but otherwise it ranges from 2.0 to 5.0 m wide, and rises to 60 cm above the walking
surface. In places, vegetation and upslope rock fall precluded precise measurements for
trail width, but where measureable it varies between 1 and 2 m wide. Steps constructed
of flat rocks are present in two places along this segment of the trail.
The northeasterly segment of the trail is different than the segment just described.
Here, the trail begins as an unmarked bedrock walkway for a few meters and then turns
up slope and steeply rises as a 2 meter-wide walkway entrenched well below the modern
surface. The recessed track surfaces at a rock wall, Wayside Feature 93, which is
constructed of immediately available rhyolite (Figure 4.4). The passage through the
center of the wall is intentionally constructed, not the result of collapse, and appears to be
an entry or symbolic passage to El Pueblito. Heading southeast from this point, toward
El Pueblito, the trail becomes nearly indistinguishable but there are occasional rocks
along what could have marked the ancient path to the settlement. A barbed-wire fence
runs along the saddle crest, the poles supported by rocks that could have been quarried
from the ancient trail.
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Plain, slipped, and polychrome sherds, chipped stone, and ground stone were
recorded along the trail (Appendices C, E, and G). Artifacts associated with the entry
feature include plain and polychrome sherds and chipped stone (Appendices C and E).
Figure 4.4. Wayside Feature 93, a symbolic passage to El Pueblito and Paquimé, accessed on Trail
112.
Trail 113
The symbolic passage (Wayside Feature 93) was certainly used to continue to
Paquimé as the trail continues east from it, mostly along an exposed bedrock shelf, where
it joins another trail, which also would have brought travelers coming from Paquimé to El
Pueblito. The portion of Trail 113 that was intensively surveyed is just below and north
of El Pueblito. The trail is constructed, having an entrenched walkway about 1.4 m wide
and 0.6 m below the top of dirt and small rock berms that define the margins. The berms
range from 10 to 38 cm above the modern surface. Accompanying the berms along a 2530 m stretch, large rocks 30-50 cm in maximum dimension and spaced about 1.0 m apart
also demarcate the trail boundaries. Plain sherds and chipped stone were recorded along
the trail (Appendices C and E).
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Feature 113 is most likely the trail Blackiston (1906) and others reported as
connecting Cerro de Moctezuma and Paquimé. If it is that trail, the survey crew was
unable to confirm it because, unfortunately, the land east of Cerro de Moctezuma was
under ownership dispute and could not be accessed for surveying. The trail is
recognizable on Google Earth near Cerro de Moctezuma but it is not visible all the way to
Paquimé.
Five West Entrance Trails
Trail 114 with Wayside Features 100, 101, 121, and 137
Trail 114 begins at an unknown point, but according to the landowner it originates
30 km distant near the Sierra Madre where he also owns land and where decades ago he
built a road paralleling the ancient trail. Confirming this report was precluded due to
limited time and resources; only the portion of the trail illustrated in Figure 4.3 was
confirmed. If the trail does come from the mountains, I suspect that it appears today only
intermittently along much of its length because orchards and residential development in
the intervening communities of Colonia Chuatémoc and Colonia Juárez surely obscure it.
The trail ends at a small rock pile (Wayside Feature 137) on a narrow mesa below El
Pueblito and shortly thereafter it joins another trail segment that continues to the West
Entrance.
At the juncture with Wayside Feature 137, Trail 114 gradually descends along the
western aspect of the hill and it becomes narrower at about 70 cm wide and has a surface
level walkway. Here, the track lacks any notable construction. The trail gains depth and
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width upon reaching the lower slope of the hill where it turns west-southwest and
continues across the gently sloping land. This lower extension is entrenched about 30 cm
below the surface and is from 2.0 to 2.4 m wide. Occasionally, rocks appear to
demarcate trail margins, but it is ambiguous whether they derive from trail construction
or not. Plain, textured, slipped, and polychrome sherds; chipped stone; and a possible
piece of ground stone were recorded along the trail (Appendices C, E, and G).
Four rock features are associated with the trail. Wayside Feature 137 is a small
rock pile at the end of the trail, and it is about 75 cm in diameter and 50 cm high.
Wayside Feature 100 is a small rock pile approximately 1.0 m in diameter and 40 cm
high lying immediately adjacent to the trail on the south. No artifacts were observed with
either rock pile.
About 180 m southeast of Wayside Feature 100 is a much larger rock
arrangement, Wayside Feature 101, measuring 6.0 m by 7.0 m in maximum dimension
and not more than one course high at about 30 cm (Figure 4.5). A cluster of 44 Ramos
Polychrome jar body sherds and 2 rim sherds, all from the same vessel, were found about
23 m west of the feature. Artifacts found within the feature boundaries include plain and
polychrome sherds and chipped stone (Appendices C and E). None of the polychrome
sherds appear to be from the same vessel and none belong to the aforementioned cluster
of Ramos Polychrome sherds. The associated trail becomes indistinguishable about 20 m
to the northeast of the feature and a few meters southwest of the feature, thus the feature
was constructed within the trail corridor rather than to the side.
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Farther southwest along Trail 114 is Wayside Feature 121. Unlike Wayside
Features 100 and 101 that were just described, this is a rock ring rather than an
accumulation of contiguous rocks. Basalt rocks from 5-30 cm piled 30 cm high delimit
the feature, which is 3.25 by 3.40 m in maximum dimension. Associated artifacts include
plain sherds and one possible piece of ground stone (Appendices C and G). The latter is
a flat piece of rhyolite with possible polish on one side. Rhyolite is not available in the
immediate vicinity of the feature.
Figure 4.5. Wayside Feature 101, a rock accumulation on Trail 114.
Trails 116 and 138 with Wayside Features 122, 123, 124, 126, 127, and 128
Trail 138 is visible on Google Earth but, unfortunately, there was not sufficient
time to confirm it in the field. One brief survey attempt was not able to locate it. Trail
116 is the longest trail recorded at Cerro de Moctezuma, and it joins the previously
described Trail 114, continuing to El Pueblito. In part, Trail 116 is structurally similar to
Trail 114 with an entrenched walkway about 30 cm below the surface, although it is
slightly narrower at about 1.8 m wide. Occasionally Trail 116 appears to be marked with
lateral rock alignments, but as is the case for Trail 114, those markers may be more
apparent than real. Along certain segments the trail exhibits neither entrenchment nor
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lateral alignments. Trail 116 loses definition and is only intermittently observable in a
few places where a ranch road appears to have obscured it. For a short extent, between
Wayside Features 123 and 127, it is about 2 m wide and is not entrenched but follows the
natural surface cleared of rock. There is also a portion of the trail that follows an exposed
fault that is relatively clear of rock. No artifacts were observed in association with Trail
116.
Parallel and immediately adjacent to the Trail 116, Wayside Feature 122 is a
rectangular pavement of rock 5.2 m long and 3.2-3.8 m wide. The maximum height of
the feature is 40 cm, and it is predominately one course high. One piece of chipped stone
was associated (Appendix E). Casual observation of Wayside Features 123 and 127
shows them to be rock rings similar to Wayside Feature 121, and they are about 1 m in
diameter and constructed of a single course of rock about 30 cm high. Wayside Feature
124 is a low rock pile about 4.5 m in diameter with an adjoining arrangement of rock that
together forms an arc having a total length of 8.5 m (Figure 4.6). No artifacts were
observed around Wayside Feature 124.
Figure 4.6. Wayside Features 124 (left) and 126 (right) along Trail 116.
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Directly across Trail 116 from Wayside Feature 124, Wayside Feature 126 is a
low rock pile 2.25 m in diameter in conjunction with hundreds of pieces of chipped stone,
predominately north of the pile. Although the chipped stone was not collected, field
observations indicate that the assemblage consists of mostly chert but also rhyolite flakes
in all stages of reduction, retouched flakes, and about 25 cores. The chipped stone is
characteristic of Medio period assemblages in terms of the following attributes: 1) No
evidence of faceted or prepared or beveled platforms; mostly cortical platforms. 2) No
nonlocal or exotic material. 3) No evidence of bifacial reduction; cores are
multidirectional. 4) No observed flakes with lipping to suggest hard hammer use. 5) No
formal tools, but only expedient flake tools.
Wayside Feature 128 was first observed on Google Earth. The feature is between
but not immediately associated with Trails 116 and 138, consisting of a pair of roughly
parallel rock alignments without accompanying artifacts. The rocks making up Wayside
Feature 128 are 30-50 cm in diameter. The area between the rock alignments is cleared
of the surface debris that is ubiquitous in the vicinity. These parallel alignments bring to
mind local instances of open-ended ball courts, which are much simpler constructions
than the two I-shaped courts at Paquimé and often have outlines of low berms or rocks
(Whalen and Minnis 1996). The orientation of this feature deviates significantly from
most ball court orientations in the greater Casas Grandes world. Figure 4.7 illustrates the
orientation of the rock alignments and, for comparison, the orientations of recorded Casas
Grandes ball courts. With one exception the prevailing orientation of ball courts is
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southeast-northwest, but the feature at Cerro de Moctezuma is southwest-northeast; a
divergent orientation does not necessarily preclude this feature from having been used as
a ball court.
Figure 4.7. Wayside feature 128, parallel rock alignments between Trails 116 and 138.
However, considering the placement of Wayside Feature 128 within the broader
landscape configuration of Cerro de Moctezuma suggests a likely alternative to a ball
court function for this unusual parallel alignment. Standing at the open end on the
southwest and looking northeast provides a direct view to the massive atalaya atop Cerro
de Moctezuma. The line of sight in the opposite direction, to the southwest, does not
cross any known landmark or settlement of particular note. Whether or not the set of
alignments had additional functions, it seems clear that these parallel lines of rock were
an effective mechanism in unequivocally directing the attention toward the atalaya.
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Trail 110 with Wayside Feature 99
Trail 110 abruptly begins on a narrow shelf below and west of El Pueblito where
modern machinery has excavated into the side of the landform. Despite this disturbance,
the landowner, who has been associated with the property for over 70 years, related to me
that he has never seen an indication of the trail farther west than what is illustrated in
Figure 4.3. The trail ascends the shelf and a higher mesa where it splits into two trails,
north of Wayside Feature 99. Low, lateral dirt berms in some places suggest that at least
portions of Trail 110 were excavated in prehispanic times. The trail surface is about 0.3
to 0.4 m below grade and is about 1 m wide along its entire length, except for a short
segment of about 20 m over which it cannot be discerned. Plain and polychrome sherds
and chipped stone were recorded along the trail (Appendices C and E).
Trail 110 passes a rock cairn, Wayside Feature 99. Constructed of immediately
available rhyolite, the cairn stands about 1.0 m high and is 1.85 by 2.60 m wide. The
feature appears to be a single construction event rather than the result of episodic
accretions because the rocks are stacked rather than piled and the sides are relatively
perpendicular to the surrounding surface. No associated artifacts were observed.
Trail 111
Vegetation of distinctive color made Trail 111 visible from distances but it was
not easily detected on the ground during survey. Therefore, the trail was surveyed twice,
producing nearly identical GPS tracks in both cases. Trail 111 branches from Trail 110
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and proceeds below a mesa of the hill. No notable trail morphology or artifacts were
observed.
One South Entrance Trail
Trail 117 with Wayside Feature 102
Trail 117 begins as a branch from Trail 116 and ends at two parallel lines of rock
on El Pueblito. It is about 70 cm wide and has down-slope rock berms along two
stretches. One probable polychrome sherd and one piece of chipped stone were recorded
along the trail. Wayside Feature 102 is a rock cairn constructed of rhyolite and basalt and
is about 2.0 m wide, 0.9 m high on the upslope side, and 1.3 m high on the down slope
side. An upright rectangular rock is anchored into the top center of the cairn. Like
Wayside Feature 99, this cairn appears to have been built in one event rather than by
accretion. No artifacts were observed around it.
The Atalaya Trail (Trail 106)
The atalaya trail traverses 1326 m and connects El Pueblito with the uppermost
part of the hill, where the massive atalaya circumscribes the summit (see following
discussion of atalaya in this chapter). In recent years, local residents have built small
rock cairns along this trail to mark their way along less noticeable stretches and it was
more recently cleared when Tarahumara runners raced down from the summit during the
festival for the patron saint of Casas Grandes. The clearing caused minor disturbance but
the trail remains in much the form as when it was surveyed during this project.
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Beginning on El Pueblito, where it is not elaborated in any way, the trail gradually
ascends along a stretch of about 280 m at which point it begins a steep rise up the western
aspect of the hill. At the point where the trail meets the ridge of the hill it becomes less
defined on the ground, although this portion of the trail is strikingly clear in aerial
photographs. Along most of its length the trail seems little more than a single-file track
about 30-40 cm wide, although in a few places it widens to 70 cm. Down slope rock
berms were observed in a few instances, and although these are not substantial
constructions they clearly create and support a level surface for foot travel. The berm
segments measured no more than 1 m wide and in one instance a berm rises about 30 cm
above the walking surface. No constructed steps were confidently identified, but there
are places were exposed bedrock facilitates the ascent. No artifacts were observed along
the trail.
The Tunnel Trail and Hillside Tunnel
The “tunnel trail” is not illustrated in Figure 4.3 but is found on a recently
published map (Swanson 2003:Figure 2). It is directly west and below the hill summit,
and is 68 m long, ending at a tunnel of uncertain age and function cut into the side of the
hill. I do not believe this trail is prehistoric. Given the precipitous descent from the
summit to the tunnel it appears significant that no trail improvements ease the descent
and ascent. In fact, the trail is littered with small to medium sized, loose rock, making
walking hazardous. No artifacts were observed in association with the trail. The tunnel
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trail, such as it is, may well be a result of repeated treasure seekers visiting the tunnel
over the last century and probably even longer.
The tunnel into the side of the hill, 50 m below the summit, is said by some locals
to lead to Paquimé or any number of surrounding hills. It stretches about 14 m into the
hill to a circular chamber about 20 m in diameter and 6 m deep; from there, another
branch leads off for an unknown distance. The tunnel may or may not have originated as
a natural cave or overhang but it clearly has been altered in modern times. There are
blasting holes on the entrance face and tailings are strewn across the entrance and down
the hill slope forming a T-shape that is visible on aerial photographs from the 1950s
(Amerind Foundation Archives). Blackiston (1906) was of the opinion, based on local
informants, that the tunnel was a modern creation, but the existence of the tunnel or a
natural precursor in prehistoric times cannot be conclusively dismissed. Other than one
historic glaze ware sherd of unknown type, no artifacts were found in association with the
tunnel.
MEDIO PERIOD USE OF TRAILS
A critical step for interpreting Cerro de Moctezuma’s trails is to evaluate their
chronology, primarily through diagnostic ceramics. Of the 215 trail-associated artifacts,
161 are sherds, 51 of which are Medio period polychromes. However, of the 51 painted
sherds, 46 are from the sherd cluster associated with Trail 114 and Wayside Feature 101.
These 46 and three of the other five are Ramos Polychromes. The two exceptions could
be Ramos or Babicora Polychrome, also a Medio period ceramic type. The painted
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sherds were recovered along three trails (110, 112, and 114) and Trail 117 produced a
probable polychrome sherd; seven polychrome sherds were associated with wayside
features. No decorated sherds were encountered on the trails or elsewhere at Cerro de
Moctezuma that could be assigned to a time preceding the Medio period.
I have argued elsewhere that the ceramic type descriptions for non-decorated
Casas Grandes pottery are not easily distinguished from those of the earlier Viejo period
(Pitezel 2000, 2001). Nevertheless, based on my experience in analyzing thousands of
sherds from nearby Medio period sites for projects directed by Mike Whalen and Paul
Minnis and viewing sherds from single component Viejo period sites, unpainted sherds
along Cerro de Moctezuma’s trails and at trailside features are consistent with Medio
period types. On that basis, Trails 110, 112, 113, and 114 were also used during the
Medio period.
Cerro de Moctezuma’s trails radiate from valleys once populated by Medio
people, and one trail bridges El Pueblito and the atalaya, which are both clearly of the
Medio period. No sherds from the Viejo period were found during the project indicating
that this was not a Viejo settlement. Trails could have preceded the Medio period
because Archaic points were found in excavations on El Pueblito, but other Medio
settlements have yielded early points. It seems justifiable in treating Cerro de
Moctezuma’s trail complex as a Medio period phenomenon.
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CERRO DE MOCTEZUMA’S TRAILS AND WAYSIDE FEATURES IN CONTEXT
Having discussed the structure and chronology of Cerro de Moctezuma’s trails,
they now can be interpreted within the Medio period landscape. The following
generalized summary of ethnographic and archaeological characteristics of trails and
roads provides interpretative insights into Cerro de Moctezuma’s infrastructure. First and
foremost, trails and roads connect people and places. Trails are used for everyday
activities as well as sacred and ritual observances; the same trail can be used for both
purposes because in many societies even everyday activities have sacred dimensions.
Trails can also have privileged users. Moreover, travel along trails and roads is often an
experience of social and cosmological value. Trails and roads are often are more
elaborate at places of culturally assigned importance than at other points along the route,
therefore serving as an immediately visible spatial transition. Finally, shrines are
constructed along trails and roads as places of petition and thanksgiving.
Cerro de Moctezuma’s trails are conspicuous landscape features that connected
surrounding populations with El Pueblito and ultimately the summit atalaya. In general,
most trails are broad enough along most of their courses to have facilitated processional
traffic, and some trails may have had special uses. Trail 112 illustrates why differential
use of trails at Cerro de Moctezuma should be considered. This trail could have served
western populations, however, as engineered, it diverges from El Pueblito rather than
continuing a direct trajectory toward it and stops at a rock wall with a constructed
passage in the center. The rock wall could be a ceremonial entrance to El Pueblito that
was used for specific ritual events, perhaps ones that ultimately led travelers to Paquimé.
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Recall that nearby Trail Feature 113 is a trail that may have continued to Paquimé. In
addition is the atalaya trail (Trail 106), which ascends along the hill slope in much the
same way as Trail 112, yet the latter is substantially constructed while the atalaya trail is
not. The lesser construction and narrow walkway of the route suggests more exclusive
single-file foot traffic rather than broad processions.
By their placement, wayside features have the appearance of vital components of
travel; they certainly recall ethnographically recorded shrines as discussed in Chapter 3.
The examples at Cerro de Moctezuma do not appear to form a patterned distribution.
That is to say, the same kinds of features are not found along each trail, although trails
were not surveyed at equal levels leaving the possibility that some wayside features went
unnoticed. The exceptions to apparent random distribution are the two cairns that are
both at higher but not lower elevations. The rock rings do not seem large enough to have
accommodated activities within them. In general, activities probably occurred around or
in reference to the wayside features at Cerro de Moctezuma.
A UNIQUE INVESTMENT: THE ATALAYA ATOP CERRO DE MOCTEZUMA
Introduction and Research Methodology
Bandelier (1890-1892:567-568), Blackiston (1906), Brand (1933), Di Peso
(1974:2:362-365; Di Peso et al. 1974:5:866-867), Lumholtz (1902:89-91) and Swanson
(2003) have described the summit feature on Cerro de Moctezuma, and while some
commonalities emerge, feature components and their measurements are sufficiently
discrepant to preclude resolution. As an example, the summit feature has been illustrated
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as a spiraled wall encircling additional features (Di Peso et al. 1974:5:Figure 239-5), but
others who have visited the site did not detect that configuration, instead minimally
describing an outermost wall, an inner wall, and a central room block. (Di Peso’s Figure
239-5 also shows the straight-line distance between the summit and El Pueblito to be 2.3
km rather than the actual distance, about 1.4 km.) The summit precinct was therefore
mapped as part of field research. Heavy mapping instruments were not carried to the
remote summit and instead the features were mapped using compass and tape.
There is no remaining evidence of a central room block within inner and outer
encircling walls today. The center of the atalaya is a jumble of stone and vegetation
where the walls of the room block presumably stood. A goal was to place trenches about
where the walls of the rooms might have been, based on an estimation of position from a
sketch in the Amerind Foundation archives. The effort that could be afforded to this
excavation was limited due to the remote location, time and personnel constraints, and a
lack of shade during the hottest, driest month of the year. Two short trenches were
excavated to explore the existence of interior walls and one test pit was excavated to
acquire characteristics of construction of the inner encircling wall. Each was excavated
as one level and all contents were passed through ¼-inch screen.
Di Peso called the summit precinct an atalaya, a Spanish term for watchtower.
Swanson analyzed this and other hill features, that Di Peso termed atalayas, for their
intervisibility and likelihood of being stations for signaling, finding that Cerro de
Moctezuma’s summit precinct was the most intervisible among the network of hilltop
features and he referred to it as a “unique architectural investment” among Casas Grandes
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hilltop features (Swanson 1997:72, 2003). Little charred material was recovered from
screening during my project, however, and no ashy deposits were encountered in the
excavation or on the surface in the vicinity, suggesting that it was not a communication
station using pyrotechnics as suggested by Di Peso (1974:5:362-365). I believe it was
instead involved in communication about the cosmology of Medio period people and the
social and ritual organization seated at Paquimé (see Chapter 8).
Describing and Excavating the Ostentatious Ritual Precinct
The atalaya on Cerro de Moctezuma consists of three components – an outermost
low rock wall, a massive inner rubble core masonry wall, and the purported innermost
structure previously described as divided into quadrants. As will become clear in Chapter
8, this complex is ostentatious by comparison to other Casas Grandes hilltop features.
Plan and profile views of the atalaya are shown in Figures 4.8 and 4.9, respectively. The
outermost wall forms a roughly 45 m diameter circle of immediately available basalt
rocks that are 5 to 15 cm in maximum dimension. The wall varies from 70 to 90 cm wide
and from 30 cm to 1.5 m high; where highest the rocks are well stacked, while in other
places the wall is less formally prepared, having only a low grade into the up slope
surface. There is no obvious constructed passage through the low wall but it is generally
easy to step over. The precipitous slope between this outer wall and the next higher wall
is littered with rock that occurs naturally on the hill and it is clear that the outermost wall
does not form an encircling terrace for retaining soil to create a level inner surface.
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Figure 4.8. Plan view of the atalaya atop Cerro de Moctezuma.
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Figure 4.9 Profile views of the atalaya atop Cerro de Moctezuma. Top view facing west, bottom view
facing south.
The inner massive wall, 6 vertical meters higher up slope, overshadows the
outermost low wall. In fact, this massive construction rises from the hill summit such
that it is recognizable at distances to at least 5 km. The original height of the wall is
difficult to measure in many places due to collapse, but judging from a lack of wall fall
near one portion, some of the wall remains largely intact and is 2.7 m tall on the exterior
side; although, as shown in profile (Figure 4.9) the wall height likely varied along its
circumference because the hill summit is not symmetrical. Any entrance through the
inner wall that might have been originally constructed could be obscured today by wall
collapse; however, Bandelier did not observe an entrance when he visited in 1884,
although he conjectures that a heap of stones (likely collapse) on the outside of the wall
may have originally been stairs (Bandelier 1890-1892). The 2-meter wide inner rubble
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core masonry wall has two facings composed of locally available basalt rocks from 30 to
50 cm in maximum dimension, with smaller cobbles filling the center; its interior
diameter is 17 m. Bandelier (1890-1892) was under the impression that the stones were
laid in adobe, but there is no evidence of that today.
Judging from a test pit excavated against the interior side of the massive inner
wall (Figure 4.8), it was built on an undisturbed ground surface; after which, clean fill to
a height of about 30 cm was added to the interior to create a level surface. The
artificially leveled surface undoubtedly supported the “four clearly outlined chambers in
the centre” of the massive wall that Lumholtz observed in 1891 (Lumholtz 1902:91).
Lumholtz apparently excavated within one (or more) of the rooms but found nothing
except a floor that was about 1 inch (2.5 cm) thick. My limited excavation within the
center of the massive inner wall confirmed the presence of masonry construction and
adobe flooring, although all was in poor condition.
It may not be surprising that Lumholtz found only a floor in his excavation
because relatively little was recovered in my more recent work as well. However, in the
present case, the unusual nature of recovered items exceeds any expectations based on the
small quantity of materials excavated. In addition to a polishing stone and a turquoise
bead, charred fragments of pine and agave-like tissue were recovered. My limited
excavation further uncovered elements forming three complete bird wings, identified as
two terns (Sterninae) and one probable snowy egret (Ardeidae cf. Egretta thula); both are
migratory water birds exotic to the Casas Grandes environs. Pine wood and bird wings
are further addressed in Chapter 6 as elements of specialized interests and settlement in
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the Casas Grandes world, but for the present purpose I consider at least the bird wings to
have been used in specialized observances in the atalaya.
Also of interest here is a test excavation within a hilltop massive adobe wall
structure or enclosure in southern Arizona that uncovered a schist pestle carved into the
shape of a human phallus and a small stone bowl that were classified as ritual rather than
domestic (Downum et al. 1993:78-89). From neighboring Sonora, Mexico, McGuire and
Villalpando (2007:158-159) report that features and artifacts on the massively terraced
hill called Cerro de Trincheras become more elaborate as elevation increases. Features
culminate at the summit in a complex of terraces and rock enclosures with restricted
access, and the summit has been interpreted as ceremonial precinct. By combining
ethnographic evidence that shows shrines on hills bear cosmological and ritual
importance with archaeologically derived data it is not unreasonable to suggest ritual or
ceremonial importance for Cerro de Moctezuma’s summit precinct and other hilltop
features in the Casas Grandes world that were recorded by Swanson (1997), although I
recognize that specific meanings varied across geographical and temporal expressions
related to hill ideology. The atalaya atop Cerro de Moctezuma and other Casas Grandes
hilltop features are further discussed in Chapter 8 as components of the Casas Grandes
ritual landscape.
SUMMARY
Three components of Cerro de Moctezuma were described and discussed in this
chapter as untypical elements of Medio period organization and effort. Agricultural
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fields, trails, and the summit precinct represent instances of marking the landscape in
overt ways as strategies of differentiation. The rock agricultural complex at Cerro de
Moctezuma is one of the largest agriculturally engineered landscapes currently known
and larger than needed for El Pueblito’s residents and visitors. As fields of power, the
system reflects the authority invested in at least a part of El Pueblito’s inhabitants, as
leaders with ability to organize large-scale production and those that held knowledge of
ritual significance undoubtedly involved with that production.
Southwest United States and north Mexican ethnography, broader instances of
road archaeology, and the concept and pilgrimage provide comparative and interpretive
insights that contextualize and localize Medio period placecrafting at Cerro de
Moctezuma. In Medio times, Cerro de Moctezuma’s broad trails supported travel to and
facilitated ascent of the hill, however the trails also were physical and symbolic places
that, in part, structured the Medio period landscape. Trails converging at Cerro de
Moctezuma and wayside features presented an initial and enduring sense of place,
meaning, and identity for travelers who convened at the hill to participate in Medio
period observances. The wide trails at the hill suggest populations from surrounding
settlements coming to participate in rituals of shared interest. In short, trails were the
infrastructure used to ascend the hill and thus oriented pilgrims to the destination and
outcomes of travel.
The summit precinct atop Cerro de Moctezuma was perhaps the ultimate
destination for those coming to the hill. Prior to the present project, no summit feature in
northwest Chihuahua had been excavated. The few artifacts revealed in the excavation
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are provoking. Although perhaps an accident of sampling, the only piece of turquoise
found during the fieldwork is from the summit feature. Pine wood and three wings from
locally exotic water birds also were found; their significance is discussed in Chapter 6.
The atalaya is a regionally unique instance of hilltop ritualization with parallels of
relevance from northern Mesoamerica into the southwest United States as an ideology
and cosmology associated with elevated landforms. Such places were crafted by leaders
and followers and reference ideals believed to meet the needs of societal interests and
personal needs that are associated with conceptions of how the world works and with
relationships to ancestors and deities. It is not difficult to imagine pilgrims coming to
Cerro de Moctezuma for intercession or supplication in accordance with Medio period
tenets. Administers of rituals were likely the elite residents of El Pueblito, which is the
subject of the following chapter.
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CHAPTER 5 – DISCOVERING AND EXCAVATING EL PUEBLITO
Mapping El Pueblito revealed a variety of architectural forms, feature types, and
construction techniques (Pitezel 2007). This first systematically produced map includes
80 obvious and less well-defined features (Figure 5.1). For example, architecture
standing more than 1 m high is more easily recognized than some of the low rock
alignments scattered across the mesa at much the same height as surrounding natural
stones. The map illustrates a current state of knowledge subject to future modification
and detail. In this chapter I describe the different types of architecture and other
constructed features with particular focus on those selected for excavation, denoted by
red feature numbers in Figure 5.1. This chapter also serves to orient the contexts artifact
analyses summarized in Chapter 6 and evaluated in Appendices A and B.
Excavation at El Pueblito was designed to address questions concerning the
nature of architectural differentiation and corresponding differentiation of activities
through comparative analyses of recovered materials. Adobe, rock-in-adobe, rubble core
masonry, and rock features comprise four classes of constructions with obvious
technological differences, and implications for functional variation. The architecturally
differentiated range of activities at El Pueblito was approached through a limited test
excavation program using a stratified sample of features from the four construction
classes. Rock-in-adobe and rubble core masonry structures were selected primarily as
representative of the class to which they belong and because of their rareness and
uniqueness in the Casas Grandes world. Selection of rock features sought to capture the
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range of variability in forms and maximize spatial coverage across the settlement.
Admittedly, the sample size is small but given restricted time, resources, and feature
variability, coverage was necessarily constrained. Nevertheless, the stratified sample
provides initial insights into the function of El Pueblito in the Medio period landscape.
Additional work, of course, could modify any conclusions provided in this dissertation.
I begin with the adobe architecture, which at El Pueblito is an example of a
regionally defined “architecture of power” with differential representation across the
Medio period landscape. One large room in the site’s adobe room block was completely
outlined and was partially excavated. I then briefly describe rooms constructed of rockin-adobe, which is a minor style of architecture at Paquimé and more widely known in
the mountainous zone but is to date rare among excavated settlements in the valleys
below. One of these rooms on El Pueblito was tested. Following that, I discuss rubblecore masonry architecture, a construction technique presently unknown anywhere in the
Casas Grandes world except at El Pueblito, where in addition to rooms it was used to
build a 90 m long wall along the east edge of the settlement. I define rubble core
masonry as another instance of architecture of power at the settlement. Six of these
structures were tested. The final category of construction is rock features that are found
as low walls, alignments, arcs, and circles. These types of features appear to be rare in
the Casas Grandes hinterland. Five rock features were tested.
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Figure 5.1 El Pueblito on Cerro de Moctezuma showing the types and locations of features. Test
excavated features are indicated by red feature numbers.
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ARCHITECTURE OF POWER IN ADOBE
The adobe architecture at El Pueblito today is a mound of collapsed and melted
walls and roofs that once formed a group of contiguous rooms. Looting had exposed a
portion of a wall in the mound, allowing shallow excavations to easily outline a room for
excavation, a common procedure used elsewhere in Casas Grandes investigations. A
small portion of the room was excavated in arbitrary levels to the prehistoric natural
surface and all contents of the excavation were passed through ¼-inch screen. Flotation
samples were collected from floor fill contexts and discriminately from upper fill levels.
Wall trenching showed that the mound contains an elaborately shaped room with
12 walls that are up to 0.55 m wide; the total floor area is 73.6 sq m, making it the largest
known room outside of Paquimé (Frost 2000:Table 4.5; Whalen and Minnis 2009:Table
3.1). The room is illustrated in Figure 5.2, which also shows that the room has a Tshaped door, two rectangular doors, and a wall niche. The shape of the room alone
stands apart from most rooms at surrounding settlements that are more commonly simple
rectangular or L-shapes and smaller in area (Whalen and Minnis 2001a). Eccentrically
shaped rooms and large room areas are not common in the Casas Grandes sphere but are
more characteristic of Paquimé and of a few functionally differentiated settlements, such
as Site 242, which has a room with 14 walls (Whalen and Minnis 2001a). Like the
similar room at Site 242, the elaborately shaped room at El Pueblito is surrounded by
other rooms, indicating that there was not direct access into it from the outside.
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Figure 5.2. A 12-walled room in the adobe mound. The narrow central portion of the room was
excavated to floor. Letters indicate wall profiles shown in Figures 3a-c.
This type of unusual architecture constitutes non-verbal communication about the
identity of those who dwell within and their status within and among social
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constituencies. The size and shape of this room at El Pueblito are remarkable but
considering the use of adobe on a hill amplifies the unusual nature of this settlement.
Adobe architecture is a pedestrian attribute of the Medio period as hundreds of
settlements were constructed of mixed earth and water cast in layers between wooden
forms, but the ingredients for adobe, especially the water, might not have been
immediately available in quantities sufficient for constructing adobe walls at El Pueblito.
There is a reservoir to the south of the adobe mound that might have naturally
accumulated the necessary amount of water, but if not, water would have been collected
off the hill and carried up 200 m in order to prepare adobe. Moreover, deep sediments
are not characteristic of the mesa top and dirt may also have been hauled as well, possibly
from the narrow shelf extending further west just below the El Pueblito mesa, where the
West Entrance trails converge (see Figure 4.3). There, a possible barrow pit has been
identified1.
A small portion of the outlined room at El Pueblito was selected for excavation.
Figure 5.2 shows the excavation plan view as well as letters that indicate wall profile
views shown in Figure 5.3a-c, which presents the east and west wall profiles from the
excavation and the profile of a wall exposed by looting. Excluding wall tracing, a mere
11.5 m3 of fill was removed from the room. As indicated in Figure 5.2, about half (4.33
sq m) the floor area within the excavation was disturbed, while a small portion (2.03 sq
m) was hard packed and lacked plaster that covered the remaining area (4.03 sq m). No
1
Harmon (2005) refers to this depression as an Open-to-T-shape transition ball court. I respectfully
disagree. First, its shape is ambiguous without a clearly defined north or south end. Second, uneven and
jagged bedrock exposures can be seen within what would be the playing field. Third, the berms on the east
and west sides are composed mostly of rubble, which looks strikingly like the result of winnowing. The
latter point particularly suggests a possible borrow pit for making the adobe found at El Pueblito.
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floor or wall features were observed within the excavated area. Judging from excavation
below the floor level, the adobe walls have footings about 16 cm deep that rest on
bedrock or cultural fill; bedrock appears from 16 to 39 cm below the floor.
Figure 5.3a-c. Adobe wall profiles as revealed by looting (north) and excavation (west and east).
Refer to Figrue 5.2 for the locations of walls.
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Estimating Number of Rooms
The tops of adobe walls in Chihuahua are not typically visible because they are
capped by a thin layer of overburden. Thus, counting the number of rooms is impossible
on the basis of surface indications, and to complicate matters, Medio period rooms are of
variable size and shape such that estimating numbers of rooms from mound size is
difficult at best. To avoid overestimating or underestimating room counts, Whalen and
Minnis (2001b:108-110) used mound area to characterize settlement size, and by that
measure El Pueblito’s 925 sq m mound is small by Chihuahua standards, although it falls
at the top end of their small category. Small settlements (< 1000 sq m) account for about
76 percent of mounds found within about 80 km of the primate center of Paquimé
(Whalen and Minnis 2001b:Table 4.4). El Pueblito’s adobe room block is directly
associated with other types of architecture (e.g., Features 61, 44); those are not included
in the 925 sq m, nor is the associated plaza.
New data have become available since Whalen and Minnis first established the
use of mound area as a measure of settlement size. Now, there are four sets of data for
comparative purposes and they underscore previous understanding that room size is
variable among settlements (Whalen and Minnis 1999, 2000; 2001b:110-111; 2001c,
2003). Including excavation at Paquimé, there are 312 rooms in the sample with average
room sizes ranging between 8.8-26.9 sq m. Even removing Paquimé from the equation,
there is a difference of 10.7 sq m between the low and high end of average room sizes.
Finally, at least one room at El Pueblito is about 74 sq m, far above the highest average of
26.9 sq m. Using the low and high averages yields estimates of 105 and 34 for the
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number of adobe rooms at El Pueblito. It should be clear from this brief exercise that
estimating the number of rooms at El Pueblito could be misleading, but I am comfortable
rejecting the high of 105 rooms, given the unusually large size of the 12-walled room.
The lower number is, of course, plausible but it also is likely too high because the
calculation for El Pueblito’s mound area includes the full extent of adobe melt that most
likely extends beyond the original footprint of the room block. Therefore, I take the
number of rooms to be no more than 34 and most likely fewer.
ROCK-IN-ADOBE
A small block of three rooms directly northeast of the adobe mound was mapped
from surface rock alignments, and the rooms appear to be constructed from rock-in
adobe, although the north wall of this complex is rubble core masonry (Features 22, 63,
and 64). One of the rooms appears to have 8 walls, forming a complex shape (Feature
64). If this is truly the case, the room is another instance of extravagant engineering that
is uncommon at other settlements. More of this same type of architecture forms a row of
contiguous rooms on the south side of the Adobe Plaza. One of the rooms appears to
form an L-shape. There are a few walls of this type at Paquimé, and Di Peso et al.
(1974:4:218) referred to them as adobe and stone cob. Outside of those few examples,
the only other currently known walls of this nature occur about 150 km west of Cerro de
Moctezuma in the Sierra Madre (Bagwell 2004).
One small test pit 0.8 by 1.3 m (0.9 m3) was excavated into Feature 56, one of the
rock-in-adobe rooms along the Adobe Plaza’s south edge (Figure 5.4). An exposed wall
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in the excavation was plastered with a thick (ca. 3 cm) application of adobe that was then
covered with a thin coat of plaster. A compact surface was found about 95 cm below the
modern surface, and although a plastered floor was not confidently identified, there were
43 flat-lying plain jar sherds at that level. All but one or two of the sherds belong to the
same vessel. Below that level was about 10 cm of fill on top of an uneven bedrock
surface. Unfortunately, time constraints precluded expanding this test excavation to
obtain additional information, such as the possibility of floor features or type of entry.
Figure 5.4. West wall profile of a rock-in-adobe structure, Feature 56.
ESOTERIC KNOWLEDGE IN RUBBLE CORE MASONRY
Rubble core masonry architecture accounts for at least 21 structures on El
Pueblito. The technology has no counterpart at Paquimé and is unknown elsewhere in
northwest Chihuahua. Beyond the Casas Grandes world, this construction technique is
known to be associated with ritual centers in Mexico and on hill sites in the southwest
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United States (Ferdon 1955:3-4; Nicholson 2003; Wasley and Johnson 1965:90). As
described in Chapter 7, the adoption of this unusual technique could have been a strategy
of employing esoteric knowledge in order to further differentiate Cerro de Moctezuma.
At El Pueblito, rubble core masonry occurs as isolated and contiguous rooms,
although the technology is incorporated in a few other constructions that are not
considered to have ever been full height structures (Features 30, 81, and 104) or are
mixed with other construction techniques as in the small room block directly northeast of
the adobe mound that was previously described as rock-in-adobe and rubble core
masonry. Rubble core masonry structures are listed in Table 5.1. Feature 136, directly
north of the adobe architecture was overgrown with dense vegetation so that clear
definition of walls was not possible; it may contain divisions that went undetected. An
early map of El Pueblito, inadvertently submitted for publication (Pitezel 2007),
incorrectly characterizes that feature as having semi-circular walls. Rubble core masonry
walls are generally about 90 cm wide and are constructed of immediately available,
mostly undressed, rhyolite as outer faces that are filled with naturally available smaller
cobbles and pebbles as well as crushed rock. The robust nature of the walls easily fit into
the designation architecture of power.
I envision at least most of this architectural class as having full-height masonry
walls because excavation shows that the height of walls are generally 1.5 m, from floor to
the top of existing walls. Judging from abundant wall fall in the test excavations, there
would be enough rock to complete a full height wall from floor to roof. A profile of two
partially excavated rooms is shown in Figure 5.5. The exact type of roof these structures
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had is not known, but it is clear that the roofs included grasses and reeds as well as small
beams because impressions of these materials were found on small masses of hardened
mud.
Table 5.1. Rubble core masonry structures at El Pueblito.
Feature
Feature
10
11
13
15
18
21
23
25
28
29
31
35
36
39
Feature
40
43
47
104
134
135
136
Figure 5.5. West profile of two partially excavated rubble core masonry structures showing room
floors and remnant and projected wall heights.
General excavation procedures included excavation in arbitrary levels unless
otherwise noted in the following discussion. All fill was passed through ¼-inch screen.
Flotation samples were collected from basal levels. Trench excavations 0.5 m wide and
of variable length were used to initially explore rubble core masonry structures. Where
appropriate, trenches were expanded laterally to obtain additional architectural and
feature characteristics.
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Isolated Rubble Core Masonry Structures
Blackiston (1906) regarded the southernmost rubble core masonry structure,
Feature 47, as a stone tower, suggesting a construction much more substantial that what is
now visible. Although the feature is filled with rock, there does not appear to be enough
to have extended the structure to more than one story. Moreover, interior wall faces are
clearly visible and an entry is definable in the north wall, so if Blackiston was referring to
a tall mass, that appears also to be incorrect. Blackiston’s evaluation seems inaccurate in
either case. There is a possible low platform (ca 40 cm high) constructed of rhyolite
along the exterior west wall, but without additional investigation through excavation, this
assessment remains speculative.
Other structures also have interiors filled with rock, in particular the small room
(Feature 18) attached to the D-shaped wall on the east side of the massive rubble core
masonry wall. Bandelier (Lange and Riley 1970:319) described this room as a “nearly
square mound of stone,” but that description is not entirely straightforward. Again, like
Feature 47, the small room is filled with rubble, but that also is likely to be wall fall and
there is indication of an entry in the west wall. On the north and west perimeters of the
El Pueblito mesa, nearly directly opposite of the two features just described, are two other
structures that are filled with rubble. Feature 48, isolated along the west edge of the site
is nearly identical in size to the east and south structures (Features 18 and 47), while
Feature 11 on the north is slightly larger and is in much worse condition than the other
three. It is collapsed to about 70 cm above the surface, while the others stand to about
1.25 m high. The east and west flanking structures and the southern one could have been
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filled prehistorically; however, if that is the case, they most likely were not used as
platforms because the interior surfaces are not level, in fact, they are so uneven that
standing atop them is precarious.
Because of their isolated nature these structures might have been used differently
than contiguous masonry structures. It is unfortunate that they were in such a state of
disrepair, with few that could be readily tested. Directly adjacent to the east side of the
Adobe Plaza is an isolated structure (Feature 21) that had the least amount of rock filling
its interior. A 0.5 by 2.13 m trench (0.5 m3) excavated along its south wall revealed only
a few centimeters of deposition above a base of undulating bedrock. No floor or
subfeatures were observed.
West-central Rubble Core Masonry Structures
Three rooms from the cluster of masonry plazas and rubble core rooms north of
the adobe architecture were selected for testing. Most of the architecture there is clearly
rubble core technology except the northernmost room with stacked rock walls on the
north and east (Feature 30), and two ancillary spaces (Features 37 and 75). The three
tested structures include Features 35, 36, and 39. Very little can be said of the
southernmost room (Feature 39) that was tested in this group. A 0.5 by 2.0 m trench (0.7
m3) along its north wall exposed plastered walls and floor, all in excellent condition.
Hardened pieces of adobe with impressions of reeds 4-5 mm in diameter found in the
excavation are suggestive of roof construction as described at Paquimé (Di Peso et al.
1974:4:250-251).
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Feature 35 is the only circular room on El Pueblito; therefore it was specifically
targeted for testing (Figure 5.6). A total of 2.7 m3 of fill was excavated. The room
appears to have been partially subterranean because there is a 20 cm stepped entry and
bedrock forms the lowest part of the structure wall just north of the entry. The bedrock
had been ground smooth. Similar alteration of bedrock to create level floors of structures
is reported at Fortified Hill near Gila Bend, Arizona (Greenleaf 1975). A Casas Grandes
Plainware jar was found sitting upright about 3 cm above the floor of the room
(Appendix I).
Figure 5.6. A rubble core masonry structure, Feature 35, showing the limit of test excavation and
location of the stepped entry.
Feature 36, the far north room, proved to be one of the most interesting because
the test excavation of 2.2 m3 of fill along the south wall revealed a platform hearth, a T-
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shaped door, and the only turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) bones recovered from El
Pueblito (Figure 5.7). The platform hearth is similar to some at Paquimé that were
described as Type 2A, Rectangular Platform (Di Peso et al. 1974:4:256). As the name
implies, the hearth is raised from the floor level, but it also consists of an ash retainer
behind the fire pit and a front air vent into the fire pit. The example from El Pueblito,
however, lacks the air vent but more interestingly, the ash pit was fashioned from parent
rock that makes up the substrate of the room (Figure 5.8). The floor of the room was
typical of other Medio period floors except that a portion of it, like the ash retainer, was
formed from bedrock that had been ground flat and smooth (Figure 5.8). The doorway,
in the southeast corner of the room, was only partially preserved but it is clear that it once
formed a T-shape.
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Figure 5.7. A rubble core masonry structure, Feature 36, with a platform hearth and T-shaped door.
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Figure 5.8. An adobe platform hearth (Feature 118) with ash retainer in a rubble core masonry
structure (Feature 36). Bedrock was ground smooth to form part of the floor (east of ash retainer)
and part of the ash retainer. Scale = 10 cm.
Five turkey bones found in the southwest corner of the room form a left wing (see
Chapter 6); the distal end of the humerus had been cut, unlike the others. Another wing
bone, from the right side, was also recovered, suggesting an additional wing that was not
fully recovered. The position of the bones among roof fall suggests that the wing may
have been hanging on a wall or suspended from the roof of the room. I have been unable
to find reference to turkey wings from Paquimé where most of the turkeys recovered
were complete or headless burials (Di Peso et al. 1974:8:Figure 322-8; Hodgetts 1996).
Thus, currently this is the only known example of whole turkey wings from a Casas
Grandes settlement. Ethnographically, across west, central, and eastern Mesoamerica
turkeys are critical parts of rain, harvest, and crop ceremonies, and among southern
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cultures turkey plumes are referred to as feathers of the lord (Di Peso 1974:2:602; Vogt
1969).
North Rubble Core Masonry Structures
The only known interconnected rubble core masonry rooms are found in the
north-central portion of El Pueblito (Features 28 and 29), along with a small stone arc
attached to the south and a patio extending to the east (Features 78 and 27). The
northernmost room is one of only two known L-shaped rooms at El Pueblito. Figure 5.9
illustrates Feature 28, the larger, southern room. Test excavation of 1.8 m3 of fill
exposed short segments of walls in the southeast corner of the room but neither wall
plaster or a floor were observed, although matrix color and texture changes, as well as
dramatic drop in artifact density, indicate the possibility of a surface about 30 cm below
the modern ground level. Below that level, there was a 15 cm thick layer of crushed
rhyolite extending at least to the walls of the structure. This deposit could predate the
construction of the room, but its full extent, possibly under the walls, is unknown. This is
a large room and postholes would be expected to support a roof but no such features were
observed nor was there evidence of a roof, for example, beam impressions as found
elsewhere.
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Figure 5.9. A rubble core masonry structure (Feature 28) showing the limit of test excavation.
Northeast Cliff Rubble Core Masonry Structures
Feature 15, on the northeast cliff edge, is accompanied by an additional rubble
core structure (Feature 13) as well as two low-walled spaces on the north and south
(Features 70 and 16). Feature 15, illustrated in Figure 5.10, is partially set against a low
bedrock escarpment that forms part of its southwestern wall, with rubble core masonry
atop. Otherwise the room is typical rubble core technology, although the use of massive
boulders as wall facing is not typical. A small area adjacent to the structure is bounded
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on the west by a taller bedrock outcrop, about 1.5 m high, forming a small extramural
space (Feature 14). No floor was observed in the 0.5 by 2.28 m test trench (0.9 m3) in
Feature 15, nor did the walls have plaster covering, although deposition was shallow,
about 20 cm before encountering a layer of unconsolidated rock covering bedrock.
Figure 5.10. A rubble core masonry structure (Feature 15) along the east edge of El Pueblito showing
the limit of test excavation.
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The Massive Rubble Core Masonry Wall
A striking complex of rock construction at El Pueblito is along the east side of the
settlement where the mesa rapidly drops several meters before reaching the precipitous
cliff face. The complex encompasses a massive wall, a few lower, less substantial walls,
three enclosures, and a low terrace (Figure 5.1). Features 19, 86, and 87 are constructions
of the type described in the following section. Feature 18 and 98 are rubble core
masonry, the former being the structure described by Bandelier as a mound of stone. The
massive wall is rubble core masonry but it is considerably more robust than other
examples (Figure 5.11). While structure walls are about 90 cm wide, the massive wall
measures between 1.0 and 2.7 m wide along its 90 m length. There is a constructed
passage through the wall where Bandelier (1890-1892:565) observed a large slab forming
a step by which to pass through the opening. There is another opening in the wall a few
meters south of the passage but it is the result of wall collapse.
Figure 5.11. Top view of the massive rubble core masonry wall (Feature 46) on the east side of El
Pueblito. Scale = 1m.
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The purpose of the long wall is not immediately clear, but it could be an elaborate
form of terrace to retain soil. Eight auger holes were excavated along the west side of the
wall in order to determine depth to bedrock. Depths of the holes ranged from 5 to 45 cm,
the shallowest two holes (5 cm and 8 cm) are from near the south end of the wall where
the topography is flatter than along the northern two-thirds of the wall where the
minimum depth to bedrock is 20 cm. Artifacts were only observed in the northernmost
hole and they included 2 Ramos Polychrome sherds and a vesicular basalt mano
fragment. It is clear that the wall supports the accumulation of sediments along the west
side, but it is unknown if that was its intended purpose. This long wall could have served
an unknown purpose, but the most parsimonious conclusion is that it retained soil to
create a level surface. Although no structural elements are presently recognizable on the
surface along the wall, the proposed terrace could have been used to support perishable
constructions such as ramadas.
UNTYPICAL COMPONENTS OF SETTLEMENT COMPOSITION:
EXTRAMURAL ROCK FEATURES
The most variable class of features on El Pueblito comprises rock arrangements
that are generally grouped as low single course masonry walls and rock alignments, but
as shown in Figure 5.1, construction techniques can be mixed and bedrock is sometimes
incorporated into feature designs. More specifically, the features listed in Table 5.2
include single course enclosures, arcs, and alignments; low (between 30-40 cm) piled
enclosures, arcs, and alignments; walled enclosures; and wall segments; and one low
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terrace. Walled enclosures are about 75 cm high, except in one case, which is 2 m high.
Some rock features are a combination of single courses and piled segments, and in at
least one example rubble core masonry is combined with simpler single course masonry.
None of these features appear to have been full height structures with formal roofs,
although more ephemeral superstructures cannot be confirmed or rejected at this time.
These types of features are not typical components of Casas Grandes settlements,
especially in the quantity as found at El Pueblito, indicating a level of settlement activity
and complexity beyond most.
Table 5.2. Extramural rock features at El Pueblito.
Feature/Description
Feature/Description
Feature/Description
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
16
17
19
20
24
26
37
49
50
51
52
53
54
68
70
71
72
73
74
75
79
80
81
82
83
86
87
103
129
130
131
132
133
piled alignment
piled arc
single course enclosure
piled arc
piled enclosure
piled enclosure
mixed alignment
mixed enclosure
terrace
walled enclosure
piled alignment
piled arc
walled enclosure
walled enclosure
single course enclosure
single course enclosure
single course alignment
single course enclosure
single course arc
single course double alignment
single course alignment?
walled enclosure
single course enclosure
single course enclosure
mixed alignment
single course alignment
walled enclosure
mixed arc
single course alignment
mixed enclosure
single course alignment
piled alignment
wall segment
wall segment
piled enclosure
single course alignment
single course alignment
single course arc
single course alignment
single course alignment
As just mentioned, several features have combinations of architectural elements.
One is found in the northwest corner of the settlement where both piled rock walls and
rubble core masonry are combined to form a small rectangular space (Feature 81). About
20 m south of that feature is a line of rocks bordering the cliff edge, but its east edge, like
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the previous feature, also includes rubble core masonry (Feature 9); this feature sits
directly on bedrock. Feature 7 is another example of combined architectural elements,
and it is in the cluster of features along the west edge of the settlement and directly west
of the south masonry plaza. The feature consists of a stacked rock wall 1 m high as an
east facing U shape with a massive bedrock outcrop incorporated into the opening of the
U. It is about 2.7 by 3.0 m (Figure 5.12). A 0.5 by 2.7 m trench (0.3 m3) in the center of
the feature revealed a maximum 18 cm of sediments atop a west-slopping bedrock
substrate. No cultural surface was identified, although if there was a prepared surface it
could not have been more than about 5 cm below the modern surface because that was
the minimum depth of bedrock.
Figure 5.12. A rock feature (Feature 7) on the west side of El Pueblito showing area tested.
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Feature 49 is the southwesternmost known feature on El Pueblito, and it is a
single row of rocks that are about 30 cm in maximum dimension forming a rectangular
shape (Figure 5.13). No artifacts were recovered and only about 2 cm of wind-blown and
water-deposited sediment was removed from a centrally placed trench 0.5 by 2.6 m. It is
built directly on bedrock. This feature has a rock (ca. 50 cm in maximum dimension) in
the center of it, as do two other features, both of which are also along the west margin of
the settlement (Features 5 and 52). Another feature lacking a prepared surface was
Feature 19, on the east side of El Pueblito. It is the D-shaped enclosure (6.5 by 6 m)
attached to the east side of the massive wall, and just north of that wall’s opening. This
feature has the tallest wall (2 m) of any within the class of single-course masonry
features. A 0.5 by 5.5 m trench (0.5 m3) through the center of the feature shows
downward stepped bedrock from west to east and no distinctions within feature fill.
Figure 5.13. A rock feature (Feature 49) in the southwest corner of El Pueblito showing the area
tested. The feature was built on bedrock.
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At the north end of the massive wall are two stone circles, one of which was
tested (Feature 71). The stone circle is about 3.5 m in diameter and consists of a single
row of rocks that are about 25 cm in maximum dimension. Except for a discontinuous
deposit of yellow-brown clayey sediments about 20 cm below the modern surface, a 0.5
by 3.5 m trench (0.8 m3) through the center of the feature revealed homogeneous deposits
on top of disaggregating bedrock. Artifacts were found to near the bedrock surface, and
at no point was a prehistoric surface identified.
The final rock feature that was tested is the large stone arc (Feature 24), about 30
m north of the stone circle just described. The arc, shown in Figure 5.14, is similar to
those at Site 242 (Whalen and Minnis 2009). Feature 24 is about 7.5 m by 5.0 m and is
constructed of rocks from 40-50 cm in maximum dimension, although smaller ones are
incorporated. The underlying substrate consists of a broad surface of bedrock in the
northeast portion of the 0.5 by 3.0 m test trench (0.6 m3) and a deeper, disaggregated
bedrock surface in the southwest half of the trench. No cultural surface was identified
during excavation or in the trench profile.
135
Figure 5.14. A rock feature (Feature 24) showing the area test excavated.
SURVEILLANCE AND ACCOMMODATION: PLAZAS
None of the plazas on El Pueblito were excavated but they are included here
because they are examined in Chapter 6 and Appendix A through artifact collections
from the surface. Moreover, plazas are generally considered to be activity areas for more
than a few people, and the immediate goal is to examine the sizes of the plazas and their
capacity to accommodate activities and visibility. The plazas are first described with
attention to surveillance or intervisibility properties. Referring to Figure 5.1, the plazas
are: the North Masonry Plaza (NMP), the South Masonry Plaza (SMP), the Central Plaza,
and the Adobe Plaza. Included in the summary analysis in Chapter 6 is Feature 29, a
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small patio adjacent to a rubble core masonry structure (Feature 28) but it is not further
discussed in this section.
The Adobe Plaza is surrounded by adobe architecture on the north and west and
by adobe-in-rock architecture to the south. The exact nature of the architecture forming
the east side (Feature 61) is unknown but surface indications show probable adobe, with
some simpler masonry along the north edge, and rubble core masonry on the east. There
also are two parallel masonry alignments that appear to have been an entry between the
plaza and this poorly understood area. By all indications, the activities within the plaza
would not have been visible from outside, but the roofs of surrounding architecture could
have been places from which to view activities within the plaza.
The North and South Masonry Plazas are defined by rubble core masonry
architecture along the western sides. A simpler type of stacked masonry wall divides the
two plazas and forms the east and south walls of the south plaza. The southern plaza
appears to be entirely enclosed with no visible entrance. The northern plaza is not fully
enclosed but a massive bedrock exposure on the east side restricts entry. Although much
of the simpler masonry walls of the plazas have collapsed, estimating their original height
from, presumably, largely intact segments and adjacent wall fall indicates that they were
about 1.5 m high, or about the average height of the population living at Paquimé (males
1.65 m, females 1.55 m; Di Peso et al. 1974:8:339). Judging from the lack of significant
wall fall, parts of the west walls of both plazas stand nearly to their assumed full height,
and no interior part of the plazas can be viewed from outside along their west borders
because the architecture rises about 3 m above the line of sight.
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The Central Plaza is an open space, defined by the adobe architecture on the south
and masonry constructions on the east and west, by the bolder and rock alignment on the
northeast, and by rock-and-adobe room block on the southeast. Although it is not
extreme, a drop in the contour of the mesa defines the area between the northeast and
southeast constructions. The plaza is further notable for and definable by the lack of
natural surface rock that characterizes the unaltered parts of the mesa. A short, single
course rock alignment sits toward the center of the plaza, but its function is unknown.
El Pueblito’s four plazas are of different sizes suggesting that activities within
them encompassed different audience sizes, activities, or social segments. The Central
Plaza is the largest at about 710 sq m, and it is open, rather than restricted. The North
Masonry Plaza, South Masonry Plaza, and the Adobe Plaza are 80 sq m, 100 sq m, and
305 sq m, respectively, and they are physically and visually restricted from without.
Using Moore’s (2005:147, Table 4.8) estimate of 1 person per 3.6 sq m of plaza space
results in El Pueblito audience sizes of 197 for the Central Plaza, 85 for the Adobe Plaza,
28 for the South Masonry Plaza, and 22 for the North Masonry Plaza. Moore is quick to
note, however, that estimating audience size depends on several factors including the type
of activity and actors, design of the plaza space, and surrounding accommodations (such
as roof tops). Such caveats are particularly useful to consider for El Pueblito’s plazas. In
particular, the unsymmetrical shape of the masonry plazas raises questions as to how
people would have been arranged within the plazas to view activity presumably taking
place in the center of the plazas. The estimates provided here are only general guides to
the possible sizes of audiences within plazas.
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SUMMARY
Adobe, rock-in-adobe, rubble-core masonry, and rock features comprise four
classes of architecture and features at El Pueblito. A sample from each class was tested
including a portion of an elaborately shaped room in the adobe mound, a portion of one
room from the rock-in-adobe architecture, five rooms from the rubble-core masonry
architecture, and five extramural rock features. The artifact assemblages from the
excavations are analyzed and evaluated in the following chapter, along with an analysis
of surface artifact collections. Before moving to those analyses, however, a few
conclusions about El Pueblito and its place within the Medio period landscape can be
summarized from the preceding discussions.
A developmental theme of this dissertation is the specialized nature of El
Pueblito, and the architecture is one line of evidence in support of that characterization.
In addition, mound area is a regional standard by which to measure settlement size, and
despite the small size of El Pueblito’s mound, it is comparable to the mound at Site 242,
which has been characterized as an extension of Paquimé’s authority in the hinterland.
This simple observation underscores the relevance of understanding the range of
variability among Medio period settlements, where the size of a settlement cannot be
inferred to indicate the nature of its occupants or its role in Medio period organization. It
is, rather, the use and configuration of materials that set these two settlements apart from
their neighbors. While adobe is a common construction material in the Medio period it is
used extravagantly at El Pueblito as thick walls and as a room with 12 walls. These
139
qualities conform to what has been called architecture of power, a declaration of authority
related to Paquimé where architecture of power is maximally expressed.
Similarly, rubble core masonry architecture, which is currently unknown
elsewhere among recorded settlements around Paquimé, is robust and exaggerated.
While the rock used to construct these rooms is immediately available on the surface, the
walls are thick at about 90 cm. I believe that this technology represents esoteric
knowledge and is another example of over-engineering at El Pueblito as a statement
about the people who lived there and about their formal relationship with the leadership
at Paquimé. Excavation in the rooms revealed plastered walls and floors and there is
evidence of roofing material. Moreover, effort was expended in modifying the natural
surface to accommodate floors, as bedrock had been ground smooth in two of the rooms.
Many other constructions on El Pueblito also set it apart from other Casas
Grandes settlements. At least 40 extramural rock features as single-row alignments, low
piled-rock alignments, low-walled enclosures, and wall segments contribute to the
complexity of the settlement when compared to most others that lack such features.
There is no evidence that any of these features were covered with substantial roofs
supported by load bearing walls, but ephemeral superstructures cannot be ruled out. No
cultural surfaces were identified in the examples that were excavated. An immediate
observation is that these features divide space in ways not typical elsewhere and that
there were kinds of activities on El Pueblito that required that those interests be visibly
demarcated.
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Other segregated spaces at El Pueblito include three of its plazas. Two masonry
plazas and the adobe plaza are fully enclosed by walls and other architecture, indicating
that viewing activities within them was restricted to a limited number of participants.
What kinds of activities occurred in the plazas is unknown, but their size implies that they
were not overly large gatherings. The two masonry plazas could probably accommodate
around 25 people. The Adobe Plaza could have entailed a larger group, around 85
people. However, there is also the Central Plaza that is not enclosed but rather
completely open, and much larger. It was estimated that it could have held a group of
about 200 people.
El Pueblito on Cerro de Moctezuma represents a unique location among a
predominately valley and mountain settlement pattern where hilltops were not used for
substantial habitation except on Cerro de Moctezuma. In ritualized landscapes, places are
crafted to meet dominant concerns of society. Specialization and differentiation set apart
those interests from the ordinary as strategies that not only enhance experiences but also
the status of those who, in the present case, live in the midst of those materialized actions.
Given the complexity of El Pueblito’s organization and the effort that was expended in its
architecture that is beyond the practical, I envision at least some El Pueblito residents as
leaders, and more specifically ritual leaders, that were intimately related to Paquimé (see
Chapter 8).
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CHAPTER 6 – THE ORDINARY AND EXTRAORDINARY:
RESIDENCE AND RITUAL AT CERRO DE MOCTEZUMA
Analysis of artifact collections from El Pueblito and the atalaya on Cerro de
Moctezuma anticipated answers to key questions involving chronology, functional
variation among feature classes, use of public spaces, and identification of extramural
activity areas. Moreover, El Pueblito’s collections would be crucial for examining
questions of residential permanence and settlement specialization through comparison to
available inventories from other settlements. Ceramics, chipped stone, and ground stone
provided the primary artifact classes used to assess these issues. However, other kinds of
artifacts from nearby sites also provided initial expectations for what appears in
residential and more specialized settlements. Nonlocal items such as turquoise, shell, and
copper, as well as a variety of effigies as at Paquimé show the presence of privileged
societal members who participated in activities beyond those at most other settlements.
These items were rare at a few other settlements. If they were present at Cerro de
Moctezuma they would be of primary significance for characterizing the hill and its
occupants as key dimensions of the Casas Grandes ritual landscape.
This chapter is a summary of artifact analyses that are more fully detailed in
Appendix A and B. Data are listed in Appendices C-H. In addition to surface collections
the analyses included artifacts from, as discussed in Chapter 5, a stratified sample of 13
features from the four construction categories: adobe, rock-in-adobe, rubble core
masonry, and rock features. Excavations were necessarily restricted to testing because
142
time and resources were limited. Additionally constraining the excavation program was
the wide variety of constructions to be sampled. It is believed that limited testing across
the spectrum of features types would provide clearer initial insights to answer research
questions than more extensive excavations among fewer feature types. Features selected
for limited testing are listed in Table 6.1 (see Figure 5.1 for the location of tested
features). Table 6.1 also shows the volume excavated within each feature. The total
volume excavated at El Pueblito was only 23.5 m3, nearly half of which was from the
adobe architecture. An additional 3.5 m3 was excavated within the atalaya. Given the
low volume of excavation and near absence of floor artifacts (and absence of use surfaces
in some cases), artifacts from all levels are included in the analyses. Nevertheless,
sample sizes were small and less than ideal.
When considering the inter-settlement analyses, it should be remembered that
only eight rooms and five extramural features were test excavated at El Pueblito
compared to 55 fully excavated rooms and two partially excavated extramural features at
other sites, totaling 425 m3. Table 6.2 shows the volume excavated and the counts of
ceramics, chipped stone, and ground stone from El Pueblito and four comparative Medio
settlements, where were described in Chapter 2. Statistical tests were employed in both
inter- and intra-settlement evaluations but they do not overcome caution of using small
samples in individual analyses. Tentative but important conclusions for interpreting
components of Cerro de Moctezuma were forthcoming in some but not all cases.
Especially significant is evidence for settlement specialization given the admittedly small
sample of artifacts from the hill.
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Overall, the analyses of ceramics, chipped stone, and ground stone revealed little
out of the ordinary for Medio period residential sites; in fact, judging from comparative
artifact assemblages, activities at El Pueblito must have crosscut the kinds practiced at
most settlements. Personal adornment and high value items were scarce at Cerro de
Moctezuma, but some of this evidence illustrates that El Pueblito and the atalaya were
locations of extraordinary activity. Wood and faunal remains, for example, reveal
especially notable components of specialized interests uniquely expressed on Cerro de
Moctezuma. As such, the types of wood and animal remains are detailed in this chapter.
Taken together, artifacts from Cerro de Moctezuma indicate that a segment of Medio
period population must have resided at El Pueblito for extended intervals and that the hill
itself was a primate ritual destination for occupants of the countryside.
Table 6.1. Test excavated features at Cerro de Moctezuma. All are at El Pueblito except the atalaya.
Feature Number
Volume (m3)
1
7
15
19
21
24
28
35
36
39
49
56
71
95
11.50
0.33
0.88
0.53
0.50
0.59
1.83
2.66
2.24
0.73
0.03
0.94
0.77
3.50
Feature Description
Feature Class
Room in adobe mound
Low rock wall enclosure
Rubble core masonry structure
High rock wall enclosure
Rubble core masonry structure
Rock arc
Rubble core masonry structure
Rubble core masonry structure
Rubble core masonry structure
Rubble core masonry structure
Single course rock enclosure
Rock-in-adobe structure
Single course rock enclosure
Atalaya
Adobe
Rock Feature
Rubble Core
Rock Feature
Rubble Core
Rock Feature
Rubble Core
Rubble Core
Rubble Core
Rubble Core
Rock Feature
Rock/Adobe
Rock Feature
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Table 6.2. Volume excavated and counts of ceramics, chipped stone, and ground stone from El Pueblito
and four other Medio period settlements.
Volume (m3)
Site
El Pueblito
204
231
242
317
Total
23
280
19
95
31
448
Ceramic
Chipped Stone
Ground Stone
Total
2424
27534
3695
6656
10167
50476
459
15639
1147
161
1559
18965
7
514
17
28
19
585
2890
43687
4859
6845
11745
70026
SURFACE ARTIFACTS FROM EL PUEBLITO
Surface collections were analyzed in order to maximize the characterization of
artifact diversity at the site, identify activities outside recognized architectural and feature
boundaries, and evaluate correspondence between surface and subsurface deposits.
Surface collections consisted of 1) a general, non-systematic collection, 2) controlled
collections from outside the boundaries of architecture and other features, and 3)
collections from within known architectural or feature boundaries.
The first examination of El Pueblito’s artifacts considered simple counts of
ceramics, chipped stone, and ground stone from a general, unsystematic surface
collection from non-feature areas of the settlement. The only exceptional artifacts from
those assemblages were an unusually large stemmed biface, maul, and axe (see Figures
A.2c and A.3). In other words, by the simplest comparison of types of ceramics present,
kinds of ground stone items, and chipped stone tools and debitage El Pueblito does not
stand out among its contemporaries. Internally, the surface collection adds quantity to
the excavated assemblages but does little to expand the variety of items from subsurface
deposits.
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In addition to the general surface collection, three controlled collections were
made. These units proved useful for potentially identifying use areas that are not defined
by recognizable feature boundaries. No ground stone items were observed in these units,
and the analyses of the ceramics and chipped stone showed one possible location of stone
reduction. Although the collection units were small and sample sizes less than ideal, the
results are suggestive of extramural use areas, and importantly, point to the potential of
such controlled surface collections at other Medio period settlements.
The other two types of surface collections were from within the boundaries of
recognizable architecture and features. One set came from El Pueblito’s enclosed plazas
and one patio, and they were not clearly instructive of specific, localized activities.
Assemblage compositions from all proveniences were similar, with chipped stone being
most abundant followed by ceramics and ground stone (see Figure A.4). Only the North
Masonry Plaza was statistically different from that perspective, having a higher
proportion of chipped stone and lower proportion of ceramics than other proveniences,
but the meaning of that difference is not currently understood. Individual artifact class
analyses also yielded only general discard patterns. The South Masonry and Adobe
Plazas on the one hand and the patio and North Masonry Plaza on the other hand were
more alike regarding proportions of plain and decorated ceramics, but there was not a
statistical difference between proveniences (see Figure A.5). Chipped stone assemblages
(flakes, debris, cores, tools) analyses showed a higher proportion of flakes than debris
followed by cores and tools in all proveniences except the Adobe Plaza, which had a
146
higher proportion of debris than flakes. In this regard, the Adobe Plaza was statistically
different from the other proveniences (see Figure A.6).
The other set of collections came from the surfaces of El Pueblito’s buildings and
extramural rock features (see Figure A.7). Interpretable differences and similarities were
not forthcoming except to say that surface assemblages are not, at least at El Pueblito,
good predictors of subsurface deposits. For example, in some cases, proportion profiles
of ceramics and chipped stone were reversed between surface and subsurface deposits.
Future research could be geared toward more comprehensive surface collections in order
to better address this approach.
EXCAVATED ARTIFACTS FROM EL PUEBLITO
Adobe and rubble core masonry have been characterized as having tangible
attributes of status based on readily observable traits. However, the construction of both
masonry and adobe architecture likely indicates functional differentiation between these
two types of buildings. El Pueblito’s stone alignments and rock-in-adobe architecture
surely represent still further differentiated use of space. Although specific activities
presently cannot be distinguished, the excavated assemblages were helpful in identifying
differences between and similarities among El Pueblito’s different proveniences.
Proportional representations of ceramic, chipped stone, and ground stone showed
that activities in the adobe architecture involved less chipped stone and more ceramics
than activities in the rock-in-adobe architecture, rubble core masonry structures, and
extramural rock features (see Figure A.10). The difference between the adobe
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architecture and all other proveniences was statistically significant, as discussed in
Appendix A. Further refinement of the data showed that ceramic assemblages are the
most differentiated class among architectural and feature classes. The adobe architecture
had more plain ceramics and more jars than other contexts where plain and decorated
ceramics were more evenly distributed, as were jars and bowls (see Figures A.13 and
A.14). The differences could be related to information contained on decorated vessels
and the greater need to have that information visible in rooms other than within the adobe
architecture. Alternatively, the differences could be related to storage of goods within the
oddly shaped adobe room that was likely not typically domestic. Neither alternative can
be supported or rejected with confidence at this time. In general, larger samples would
help resolve those options. More specifically, vessel volumes potentially could
distinguish different activities across El Pueblito’s proveniences (see Figures A.15 and
A.16).
Chipped stone data change the picture from all excavated proveniences to one of
more or less homogeneity, with only two features standing apart from all others with
regard to flakes, debris, cores, and tools. Two rock enclosures (Features 7 and 71) had an
unusually high proportion of debris relative to other contexts (see Figures A.18-A.20).
Chipped stone tools were few and the majority were tabular knives that were found in all
contexts. These knives, used to process agave, are consistent with the massive rock
agricultural system along the base of Cerro de Moctezuma where agave was likely
grown. Two Archaic period projectile points where found in the adobe architecture.
Overall, the chipped stone data suggest similar but less intensive activities in the adobe
148
rooms than the other excavated proveniences. Finally, although the number of ground
stone items from the adobe architecture is low, six of the seven items are different types
(see Table A.29).
In summary, artifacts from the adobe architecture were distinctive in several
respects, but the volume excavated (11.5 m3) in that one context was nearly the same as
the volume of the seven other proveniences combined (12.0 m3); those smaller sample
sizes may heighten apparent differences. The ceramic assemblage differed in that there
might have been greater storage or less need to broadcast information encoded on
decorated vessels. While chipped stone activities appeared to be similar across El
Pueblito, within the adobe architecture those activities were less intense. A greater
variety of ground stone items came from the partially excavated adobe room than all
other proveniences combined. No Archaic projectile points were recovered from
contexts other than the adobe architecture. Finally, these artifact distinctions derived
from a room that is complexly shaped with twelve walls. It would be unwise to project
the content of this room to all other adobe rooms on El Pueblito, but clearly, at least a
portion of the adobe building involved artifacts and, inferentially, activities not present in
other architectural contexts.
THE ORDINARY: INTER-SETTLEMENT COMPARISON
In addition to the intra-site analysis, comparisons to four other Medio period
settlements are extensively described in Appendix A. Sites 231 and 317 were
characterized in Chapter 2 as small and simple, Site 204 was large and likely a key node
149
within a settlement subsystem, and Site 242 was an administrative node of Paquimé in
the hinterland. The questions to be asked with regard to the settlement comparisons are
1) Are there differences in artifact assemblages at the settlement level? and 2) How do
individual artifact classes from El Pueblito compare and contrast to other settlements?
As explained in Appendix A, comparison to Paquimé’s artifact assemblage is limited
because the data do not exist in comparable form.
El Pueblito’s unusual setting and distinctive architecture suggested that its artifact
assemblage might differ from other Medio period settlements that have been
characterized as relatively simple or might be more similar to those sites that have been
interpreted as having a specific and differentiated relationship with Paquimé. Site 242,
the administrative center, for example, had a markedly lower proportion of chipped stone
than any other settlement, suggesting that assemblage profiles may indicate settlement
specialization. In general, however, El Pueblito’s assemblage of ceramics, chipped stone,
and ground stone fits within the range of all other settlements (see Figures A.11 and
A.12). No assemblage composition necessarily corresponded to settlement
characterizations that were described in Chapter 2 as small and simply domestic, large
and multifunctional, or administrative.
As described more fully in Appendix A, in terms of individual artifact classes, El
Pueblito can be differentiated in several ways, although the significance of most
differences is not fully understood. Differences in samples sizes could play a role in
some of the apparent variation. For example, abrading stones were recovered from all
sites except El Pueblito, which might be explained by limited excavations at El Pueblito.
150
In another difference, El Pueblito had an unusually high proportion of chipped stone
debris (see Tables A.24 and A.28), a situation not entirely resolvable with the data at
hand. Another departure from all other settlements was the proportion of chipped-stone
raw material types. Chert was either the dominant or second highest raw material by
proportion at all sites except El Pueblito, where it was lowest in proportion to rhyolite
and basalt (see Table A.27). Immediately available raw material may have dictated
selection during the Medio period, a conclusion reached by Whalen and Minnis (2009).
El Pueblito and Site 242 had a high jar-to-bowl ratio, and both had a high
proportion of jars that are of the plain variety. In most cases, ceramic differences
between El Pueblito and other sites are minor, except that El Pueblito had the lowest ratio
of Babicora Polychrome-to-Ramos Polychrome. According to Whalen and Minnis, this
kind of difference in proportion of these polychromes is an attribute of later Medio times,
although an early Medio occupation at El Pueblito as well cannot be eliminated from
consideration. El Pueblito’s jar-to-bowl ratio and high proportion of jars that are of the
plain variety closely mirrors those same characteristics of Site 242. Whalen and Minnis
were able to marshal additional lines of evidence to support their conclusion that Site
242’s predominately plain jar assemblage corresponds to food and drink production
(Jones 2003; Whalen and Minnis 2009) but a similar interpretation for El Pueblito would
be premature. Obtaining a larger sample size and more discriminate analyses of El
Pueblito’s ceramics, such as recording the presence of soot and pitting should be a goal
for future research at El Pueblito.
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THE EXTRAORDINARY
Wood Preference and Differentiation
More details are provided about wood and animal bone in this chapter than on
ceramics, chipped stone, and ground stone because of the unusual nature of the former
materials recovered from Cerro de Moctezuma. Plant remains other than wood are
discussed in Appendix B but, briefly, cultivated, weedy, and wild plants were represented
in flotation samples with maize (Zea mays) being the most common charred item (see
Table B.1). Table 6.3 provides abundance, counts, and weights by feature for wood
recovered from flotation samples at El Pueblito. Paul Minnis, University of Oklahoma,
made the wood identifications. Present in the collection are Gymnosperm (general
conifer category), Juniperus (juniper), Pinus (pine), Prosopis (mesquite), Quercus (oak),
Phragmites (reed), monocot (general monocotyledonae category), diffuse-porous wood,
semi-ring porous wood, and unknown. Pine is the most abundant (59.3%), followed by
oak (24.4%) and mesquite (4.7%). Although pine is most abundant, oak was recovered
from all wood-bearing samples except from the adobe architecture where pine was the
preferred wood. A few other wood samples were obtained directly from excavation, and
all confirm the preference of pine in the adobe architecture. The atalaya atop Cerro de
Moctezuma produced pine, oak, gymnosperm, and monocot.
All types of wood collected from excavation at Cerro de Moctezuma would have
been available locally on or near the hill. However, pine would have required extra work
to acquire because it came from about 30 km distant in the Sierra Madre. The presence
of pine wood at El Pueblito and still higher and more remote at the summit atalaya speak
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to the preferred qualities of the wood as architectural elements and fuel. Efforts to obtain
the wood obviously required coordinated labor in felling, preparation, transport out of the
mountains and across the valley, and, finally, up the hill. With an admittedly low sample
size, the wood from Cerro de Moctezuma is further intriguing because its proportional
profile resembles Site 242, the administrative node, more than other settlements. Paul
Minnis provided comparative data in Table 6.4, which shows wood abundance from the
sites used in preceding inter-settlement comparisons. Notice that Site 242 and El
Pueblito have unusually high abundances of pine wood and low abundances of more
locally available wood (compare bolded values). Clearly, pine was the most important
type of wood at both settlements and this comparison affords a major contrast in access
and consumption of wood resources.
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Table 6.3. Abundance, counts, and weights of wood remains from El Pueblito flotation samples.
Taxaa
Gymnosperm
Juniperus
Pinus
Prosopis
Quercus
Pharamites
Monocot
D-P
S-P
Unknown
Abundanceb
1
2.3
2.3
59.3
4.7
24.4
2 (0.05)c
15
44 (5.40)
24
Feature
28
39
2 (0.10)
4 (0.15)
5 (0.30)
1 (0.05)
1 (0.05)
1 (0.05)
56
1 (0.15)
4 (0.35)
10 (0.25)
71
118 (hearth
in Feature 36)
2 (0.05)
2 (0.05)
1 (0.05)
-- (0.15)
1.2
1.2
2.3
2.3
1 (0.05)
1 (0.05)
2 (0.20)
1 (0.10)
1 (0.05)
Note: Identifications made by Paul Minnis.
a. Gymnosperm (general conifer), Juniperus (juniper), Pinus (pine), Prosopis (mesquite) Quercus (oak), Phragmites (reed), Monocot (general
monocotyledonae), D-P (diffuse porous wood), S-P (semi-ring porous wood), and unknown
b. Abundance refers to the percent of examined wood pieces identified to that taxon.
c. Number of individual identified pieces (cumulative weight in grams of those pieces).
Table 6.4. Wood abundance from El Pueblito and four other Medio period settlements.
Pine (Pinus)
Oak (Quercus)
Mesquite (Prosopis)
El Pueblito
204
231
317
242
59.3
24.4
4.7
38.1
36.0
6.8
23.1
43.6
14.0
28.8
46.5
18.6
87.7
3.3
0.9
Note: Abundance refers to the percent of examined wood pieces identified to that taxon.
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Bird Wings and Elk Ribs among Other Fauna
The faunal collection includes 104 bones, all of which were identified by Kari
Schmidt (University of New Mexico); Barnet Pavao-Zuckerman (Arizona State Museum)
provided supplemental identifications (Table 6.5). Mammal and bird bones are
represented, and approximately half were identified to either the genus or species level.
Present at El Pueblito were two black-tailed jackrabbits (Lepus californicus), one
cottontail (Sylvilagus sp.), one elk (Cervus elaphus), two mule deer (Odocoileus
hemionus), and two turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo). The turkey bones, found clustered
together in a rubble core masonry structure (Feature 36), represent one left wing.
Another wing bone from the right side also was found in the same excavation, suggesting
that additional wing elements were not recovered. Five of the eight identified mammals
found at El Pueblito are from the adobe architecture, which is the sole provenience of the
larger game animals, elk and mule deer. Among the unidentifiable mammal bones is one
classified as medium-large (e.g., deer) and it also came from the adobe architecture. The
presence of these bones from higher value animals indicates that the adobe room
extraordinary among other proveniences. All six of the unidentifiable bird bones
(diaphysial fragments) are medium-large, about the size of a turkey, and they came from
the round rubble core masonry structure (Feature 35), adjacent to the location of the
turkey wings.
There are nine additional bird bones comprising wings, two tern wings and a
probable snowy egret wing; all are from the atalaya. Remarkably, these wings were
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found next to each other and articulated in the notably small test excavation atop the hill.
Moreover, they surely came from within one of the purported rooms illustrated by Di
Peso et al. (1974) and others that is not visible on the surface today (see Chapter 4).
Survival of articulated elements suggests that the interior massive rubble core wall of the
atalaya circumscribed protected spaces. Additionally, these wings from migratory water
birds at the top of the hill are fundamental indicators of ritual activity in the summit
precinct.
All three humeri from the atalaya have clean cuts on their distal ends, but none of
the other wing bones show cut marks, suggesting that the wings were used whole,
possibly as fans or as other ceremonial accoutrements. Birds and their feathers are
widely known to be key components in private and public ceremony among groups in the
Southwest and beyond (Cushing 1920:161; Gnabasik 1981; Jett 1994; Lange 1950;
Lumholtz 1902; 1990:93; McKusick 1986; Parsons 1918:403; Schroeder 1968;
Sekaquaptewa and Washburn 2004; Titiev 1937; Tyler 1979), and birds were ritually
important prehistorically (Di Peso 1974:2:598-603; Hill 2000; Hodgetts 1996; LaMotta
2006; Shaffer 1991:173; Strand 1998; Woosley and McIntyre 1996). The use of bird
wings specifically is not recorded ethnographically among groups in northern Mexico
and the southwest United States, although fans were crafted from individual feathers
(e.g., Gnabasik 1981:148). Records of the prehispanic use of wings are rare. One of the
clearest examples of ritual use of wings comes from the Mimbres area where owl wings
were included in the wall fabric of a communal pit structure at the large settlement of Old
Town (Creel 2006:144; Creel and Anyon 2003). It could be the case that the atalaya atop
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Cerro de Moctezuma served a variety of purposes, but the wings of exotic bird species
make perfectly clear that activities well beyond the ordinary were performed in this
magnificent construction on the uppermost reaches of a prominent hill. The turkey wing
from El Pueblito combined with the three wings from the summit atalaya indicate a
comprehensive interest across Cerro de Moctezuma for activities beyond those of
everyday routines. But those more common activities occurred, as describe earlier,
thereby permitting a characterization of the hill as residential and ritual.
The low sample size of faunal remains makes normative comparisons unreliable,
but the small collection from Cerro de Moctezuma is remarkable for containing four rib
fragments of elk, an animal otherwise currently unknown from other excavations in
Chihuahua (e.g., Carrera and Ballard 2003; Di Peso et al. 1974:8; Hodgetts 1996; Whalen
and Minnis 2009). In general, elk is rare in archaeological contexts even in what are
assumed preferred environments in western North America (Allen 2004:60). Moreover,
there are no known instances of wings from hinterland settlements, although they might
have been present at Paquimé. Di Peso (Di Peso et al. 1974:8:280, 305) makes reference
to wings included with three turkey burials and one macaw burial, but without a bone
inventory the suggestion of wings remains ambiguous because some of those may have
been represented by only one bone. In other words, all elements comprising the
purported wings may not have been present in the burials.
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Table 6.5. Faunal remains from Cerro de Moctezuma.
Feature
Taxa
1
Black-tailed jackrabbit (Lepus californicus)
Cottontail (Sylvilagus sp.)
Elk (Cervus elaphus)
Gambel’s quail (Lophortyx gambelii)
Ground squirrel (Spermophilus sp.)
Mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus)
Snowy egret (Egretta thula)c
Tern (Sterninae)c
Turkey (Meleagris gallopavo)
Artiodactyla (tooth enamel fragments)
Aves (all medium-large)
Mammalia
Unknown
2a (1)b
7
19
28
35
36
71
95
26 (1)
1
4 (1)
1
1
4 (2)
3 (1)
6 (2)
6 (2)
1
5
9
5
10
2
6
3
3
Note: Bones identified by Kari Schmidt. All features are at El Pueblito except Feature 95, which is the atalaya.
a. Number of identified specimens.
b. Minimum number of individuals in parenthesis.
c. Also identified by Barnet Pavao-Zuckerman.
1
2
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MISCELLANEOUS ARTIFACTS FROM CERRO DE MOCTEZUMA
This section lists the items in addition to the more common categories previously
discussed. These largely consist of artifacts such as beads and raw materials that might
have value related to availability. Recall from introductory remarks that initial
conceptions of Cerro de Moctezuma envisioned non-local shell and copper items of ritual
importance at the hill. That was not the case; no shell or copper was recovered. In fact,
very few items of personal or ritual adornment were found. One possible dolomite bead
fragment was found on the surface of El Pueblito, one bead of unknown stone material
was recovered from excavation in a small stone enclosure (Feature 71), and one ricolite
bead came from excavation in the adobe room. Three obsidian nodules totaling 16 g
came from Feature 71, Feature 19 (a D-shaped wall), and from the general surface
collection at El Pueblito. Fourteen pieces of glassy rhyolite weighing 114.7 g were
recovered from the adobe room. Two additional pieces came from the surface of a rubble
core masonry structure (0.7 g) and from excavation in Feature 28, another rubble core
masonry room (0.5 g). A green mineral (0.5 g) was found on the El Pueblito surface.
Finally, a turquoise pendant and possible polishing stone were found in the atalaya test
excavation. The scarcity of “valuable” items is curious but could be related to the limited
testing program.
SUMMARY
The analyses summarized in this chapter are more completely discussed in
Appendix A. With the understanding that the analyses are based on less than ideal
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sample sizes and that only minimal test excavations were carried out, the artifacts
from Cerro de Moctezuma make three important points. First, it seems obvious
that El Pueblito dates to the Medio period because adobe architecture, which is a
hallmark of that time, is present. However, there are other kinds of unusual
structures and features at the settlement that could indicate an occupation during
other time periods. The polychrome ceramics from excavations show that the use
of all features at El Pueblito was within the Medio period. Moreover, the presence
Ramos Polychrome and the ratios of Ramos-to-Babicora Polychrome show that El
Pueblito was occupied during the late Medio period, although it could have been
occupied in early Medio times as well.
Second, El Pueblito’s remote and unique location on a hill, its
differentiated architecture and features, and its association with the massive and
conspicuous summit atalaya could be conceived to embody a specialized arena of
limited use. However, El Pueblito’s ceramic, chipped stone, and ground stone
assemblage is comparable to the simplest of domestic settlements (Sites 231 and
317), a large and probable settlement subsystem node (Site 204), and the
hinterland administrative satellite (Site 242). Assuming that items represented by
those assemblages primarily correspond to the daily activities of Medio period life,
a typical domestic occupation can be inferred at El Pueblito. Whether or not the
settlement was occupied year-round cannot be confidently confirmed with the data
at hand. Nevertheless, it is tempting to envision full-time residency of at least a
sector of the settlement given the assemblage profiles.
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Third, while activities at El Pueblito clearly must have largely cross-cut
those at other settlements and included an ordinary domestic range, a few items
from the artifact inventory emerged to underscore the specialized nature of the
settlement and hill summit precinct. The preference for pine wood in the adobe
architecture at El Pueblito and its presence 400 m above the valley in the atalaya is
a particularly salient conception of the hill by its architects and residents. While
present at other settlements, pine appears to be distinctly associated with
specialized settlement. In addition, non-local migratory water bird wings in the
summit atalaya and sacred turkey wings at El Pueblito are understandable
components of ritual, beyond ordinary activities, whether as additions to
ceremonial garb or as prescribed elements of dedicated observances. Whole wings
are repeated elements at Cerro de Moctezuma but are currently unknown at other
settlements. Finally, conspicuously present in the adobe room on El Pueblito are
elk bones, currently unknown from other Medio period sites, even Paquimé, and,
in general, rare elsewhere in southwest United States archaeological sites. The full
meaning of elk at El Pueblito is beyond present understanding but its general rarity
indicates that it likely was related to social prestige and ritual practitioners.
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CHAPTER 7 – EXPERIENCE AND DESTINATION AT CERRO DE MOCTEZUMA
All who traveled to Cerro de Moctezuma in the past were likely to have
experienced the hill in a variety of ways and those traveling there today would certainly
have even different encounters, but its four main components – trails, agricultural fields,
El Pueblito, and the summit precinct – can serve as primary landscape segments by which
to timelessly orient modern visitors. The specific meanings and functions of some
prehispanic parts may be lost forever, but through experiential description it is possible to
illustrate how built features may have guided travel and movement, how architecture
would have been perceived, and where public and private gatherings could have been
held in the past. This kind of description has been previously applied at scales from
settlements to vast landscapes (Fitzsimmons et al. 2003; Snead et al. 2009; Snead and
Preucel 1999; Van Dyke 2008).
I begin by traveling along Cerro de Moctezuma’s trails, encountering wayside
features and views of the hill along the way. The journey would not have been without
effort, climbing 200 vertical meters to El Pueblito, but once there Casas Grandes visitors
would have encountered what we now know to be a regionally rare class of adobe
architecture and a locally unduplicated type. El Pueblito would also present a settlement
setting, layout, and organization unfamiliar in home communities. Climbing upward
another 200 meters on a 1 km-long trail to the summit from El Pueblito would take
travelers to an unparalleled panorama and impressive summit precinct. The following
sections connect these components with perception and experience in more detail.
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MOVING TO EL PUEBLITO
Even today in its neglected state, Cerro de Moctezuma’s infrastructure is still
recognizable and local residents use some of the ancient trails to climb 400 m above the
surrounding landscape to the hill summit for unparalleled views of the surrounding
Piedras Verdes, Palanganas, and Casas Grandes valleys as well as the Sierra Madre
Occidental. Recently, some residents began an ancient practice of marking trails with
rock cairns to guide their way along less conspicuous parts of the now unmaintained
trails. In 2006, Tarahumara runners followed the trail down from the summit during dusk
hours while carrying torches as part of the festival celebrating the patron saint of Casas
Grandes, San Antonio de Padua. Clearly, to some extent, then, Cerro de Moctezuma’s
trails are an active part of today’s landscape, as they were in Medio times. The trails at
Cerro de Moctezuma were especially significant to Medio travelers because they
presaged components of the hill, constituted an experience of travel apart from daily
travels elsewhere, and heralded a destination.
The rolling landscape below and west of Cerro de Moctezuma contains trails that
are about 2 m wide, often with entrenched walkways, and occasionally bordered by rock
alignments and intermittently spaced rocks. At higher elevations, especially along the
hill slope, residents and visitors would have traveled the West and South Entrance (see
Figure 4.3) trails along narrower pathways.
The same trails are accompanied by wayside features in a variety of sizes and
shapes as rock accumulations, rings, piles, or cairns. Trails pass across undulating land,
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but it appears that wayside locations do not mark the crests of slopes or crossroads. Thus
it seems unlikely that Cerro de Moctezuma’s wayside features served as directional
markers for travel. These features could have been places from which to acknowledge
distant landmarks with well known meanings, to petition for well-being, or make
offerings as among some ethnographically recorded groups (Ferguson et al. 2006;
Lumholtz 1902). As discussed in Chapter 4, wayside points have cosmological
relevance.
Artifacts specifically associated with wayside features are few and their paucity
suggests that these were places of specialized observations rather than spaces heavily
used for ordinary activity. Alternatively, associated items were perishables such as grass
or feathers as in the practices of some Southwestern and Mexican groups at similar
features (Jett 1994; Lumholtz 1902:283). While we can imagine travelers to and
residents of Cerro de Moctezuma stopping for brief observances at wayside shrines, it is
clear that that was not the case along one trail where over 100 pieces of chipped stone
were scattered about the immediate vicinity of a wayside feature (see Figure 4.6). The
abundance of both flakes and cores indicates that this was an intensively used area for
stone reduction and possibly tool manufacture, although there are no clues as to why this
particular area was selected for those activities.
About 180 m southwest of that area, between but not immediately associated with
either of two flanking trails, a pair of roughly parallel rock alignments (see Figure 4.7)
without visibly associated artifacts probably caught the traveler’s eye, in its resemblance
to a simplified hinterland ball court. Travelers who left the nearby trails to stand between
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the rock alignments would have experienced a visual preview of elevated, unique, and
undoubtedly portentous architecture. Standing at the open end on the southwest and
looking northeast between the alignments provides a direct view to Cerro de
Moctezuma’s summit with its massive atalaya atop. It seems undisputable that these
parallel lines of rock were meant to frame the summit and mandate a view the atalaya.
Walking the trails to the West and South Entrances of El Pueblito not only
involved moments of observations at wayside shrines but also brought into view, in some
places, crops growing in a large rock field complex along the lower slopes of the hill.
Moreover, it is not difficult to imagine agave, and possibly other kinds of plants
bordering some portions of trails to Cerro de Moctezuma. This is especially true along
one trail (Trail 110) where agave grows today along the margins of the embedded
walkway. As fields of power, the agricultural complex would have reminded travelers,
who may have come to work in the fields or partake of their products, of the status and
generosity of El Pueblito’s residents.
The experiences of moving through Cerro de Moctezuma’s landscape while
traveling the West and South Entrance trails were likely quite different than traveling the
North Entrance trails, in part because of the views on both the approach to and descent
from the hill. Traveling to the West and South Entrance, wayside shrines and fields
would be encountered, and the views were open, revealing the nearby Sierra Madre
Mountains in the distance when leaving Cerro de Moctezuma or open views to the west
and Cerro de Moctezuma in the foreground on the ascent. In contrast, views from the
two trails leading to the North Entrance were more restricted.
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Both North Entrance trails (see Figure 4.3) have restricted views of the
surrounding valleys, especially during the climb. For example, the northwesternmost
trail (Trail 112) rises steeply along a slope into a narrow saddle, impeding the view
forward to the saddle crest during ascent; a steep slope rises to the left and a precipitous
slope to the right ends in a narrow, shallow canyon, from which sounds of running water
can be heard during rainy seasons. The wide trail is relatively monumental, supported by
an impressively engineered down-slope rock berm. After a 20-minute walk up 40 m, the
massive construction ends. The traveler is left to wonder how to proceed to El Pueblito,
still another 60 m higher and 250 m to the right (east), because the transition to the next
visible trail segment is not marked. If the current situation obtained in prehistoric times,
travelers would have needed cues on how to proceed because to continue on would have
required an unmarked and illogical turn to the left (northeast), away from El Pueblito, and
thereafter to proceed several meters along one of several bedrock exposures leading to a
point where the trail once again becomes visible. There, the trail steeply rises to the
saddle crest as a below surface walkway, approaching a rock wall (see Figure 4.4), which
because of the grade, cannot be seen until a few meters before reaching it.
The trail juncture with this rock wall gives the impression of a symbolic crossing
for continuing to El Pueblito; the steep rhyolite cliff surrounding the El Pueblito mesa can
be seen from here. A few sherds, pieces of chipped stone, and a mortar from nearby
along the trail suggest this was the locus of some activity. The trail to El Pueblito
becomes nearly indistinguishable beyond this point, but there are occasional rocks that
might have marked the ancient path onward to El Pueblito. The secluded nature of the
166
trail, the construction, and the symbolic passage would have focused attention more
directly on the destination than other trails. The symbolic passage also could have
offered the means to continue to Paquimé, as the trail continues east from here then joins
another trail, which also would have brought travelers coming from Paquimé to El
Pueblito. The upward and forward view from this particular part of the trail reveals the
towering rhyolite cliff of El Pueblito ahead (Figure 7.1).
Figure 7.1. Below surface Trail 113 with rhyolite cliff of the El Pueblito mesa in the background. The
trail most likely once connected Cerro de Moctezuma and Paquimé. Estee Rivera standing, Mike
Searcy seated.
Both journeys to El Pueblito’s North Entrance would have been as impressive and
eventful as traveling other trails to the hill but it seems in different ways. Approaching
the West and South Entrances, travelers would have had occasions to stop for
observances at way side features and observe fields and distant landmarks, while
167
traveling to the North Entrance would have been more secluded and focused. Together,
trails leading to Cerro de Moctezuma are relatively broad, often made for more than
single file traffic, and are accompanied by wayside features. The trails were engineered
to ease the passage of travelers and residents but they accomplished more; they also were
crafted as elements of the ritual landscape, bringing travelers to a distinctive place in a
memorable manner.
ENTERING EL PUEBLITO
Figure 7.2 shows the locations of entrances at El Pueblito and circulation into the
settlement. The following descriptions of entry onto the El Pueblito mesa draw from my
own experiences but are reconfirmed by observing new visitors’ first reactions upon
arriving there. Initial views of El Pueblito from different entries present different
vantages. The West Entrance trails converge on a narrow shelf below El Pueblito where
a single trail leads up to a natural opening in the towering rhyolite cliff above, while the
North Entrance trails converge and lead to a craggy opening at the north tip of the El
Pueblito mesa (Figures 7.3 and 7.4). The two points of entry are not notably visible from
any distance along the trails approaching them, and only the West Entrance is
recognizable from select points. Both entries are difficult to traverse, requiring a sure
foot to negotiate their steep, uneven rise to the mesa, and neither opening appears to have
been altered in ancient times to make access more accommodating. While trails without
doubt facilitated ascent, climbing 200 m above the surrounding valleys and navigating
the points of entry surely punctuated the sense of place that Cerro de Moctezuma evoked.
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Figure 7.2. El Pueblito showing the south entrance trail and points of entry from the north and west.
169
Figure 7.3 West entrance to El Pueblito. Adam Searcy standing.
Figure 7.4. North entrance to El Pueblito.
170
The West Entrance opens onto a perpendicular alignment of masonry architecture
that rises a little more than 3 m above the traveler’s line of sight because it is built on a
natural rise (Figure 7.2). Whether or not this kind of view was intentional, it would have
visually communicated monumentality and reinforced the specialized nature El Pueblito.
The view of any activity within the settlement was certainly obstructed from this vantage.
Access to the central part of El Pueblito from this entrance can only be had by skirting
the masonry architecture at either the north or south end as shown in Figure 7.2. The
north trajectory is not marked and entails traversing uneven bedrock exposures. It seems
most likely that passage into the core area, or Central Plaza, was between the adobe
architecture and the south end of the masonry architecture; although it also is not marked
in any detectable manner today, it is the more intuitive way to proceed. The attention of
visitors may have been drawn that way because of the adobe building sitting even higher
above their line of sight as will be described presently.
After negotiating the precarious North Entrance visitors are presented a broad
passage along a naturally stepped rise to the Central Plaza that is defined by the towering
adobe architecture on the north and masonry constructions on the east and west (Figure
7.2). In part, the site map belies the natural tendency to walk this broad, seemingly
processional corridor upon entering the mesa from the north. While a rock alignment and
a massive bedrock outcrop restrict the west side, the east side is open. However,
although the wide, open space to the east appears as an available avenue on Figure 7.2,
there is nothing but undulating bedrock exposures, a less than inviting walking surface
and view. In fact, the contour of the mesa prevents any view of the mesa edge and it
171
looks as if there is nothing to the east except the adjacent valley. From this position, the
features along the east and west perimeters are completely out of view. In short, there is
nothing to either side of the corridor to draw attention away from the bordering masonry
construction that would guide travelers into the Central Plaza.
The South Entrance is remarkable for its lack of dramatic, direct entry to the
settlement, compared to the North and West Entrances. The difficult transition from
hillside trail through the west cliff to the El Pueblito mesa occurs far south of any feature
on the settlement. Two parallel rock alignments mark the terminus of the trail but
nothing on the surface today guides travelers into the heart of the settlement or anywhere
else.
ENCOUNTERING EL PUEBLITO
Public and Private Gatherings: Plazas
El Pueblito’s four plazas were undoubtedly spaces engaging residents and
visitors, and they are of different sizes suggesting that activities within them
encompassed audiences or groups of persons of different sizes. The Central Plaza is
large and open at the center of El Pueblito, defined by but not fully enclosed by
surrounding architecture. That openness is not replicated at El Pueblito’s other three
identifiable plazas: the North Masonry Plaza, the South Masonry Plaza, and Adobe Plaza.
Use and visitation rights for these plazas were physically or visually restricted, either
fully or partially. Masonry walls restrict views into the masonry plazas, especially on the
west. This is the view that the visitor confronts upon entering El Pueblito through the
172
West Entrance where the North Masonry Plaza’s west walls rise nearly 3 m above the
line of sight. Of course, sounds of plaza events may not have been immediately
contained within the walls and it is likely that activities within the masonry plazas could
be viewed from the roofs of immediately surrounding structures, but not from atop the
adobe buildings because of intervening masonry architecture.
The Adobe Plaza is surrounded by buildings and is clearly blocked from the
Central Plaza by rooms on the north, now a long, narrow mound of melted and fallen
adobe that probably formed a single row of rooms adjoining other adobe rooms to the
west. Rock-reinforced adobe structures would have prohibited casual viewing into the
plaza interior from the south side. The exact nature of the plaza’s east margin is
unknown but involves a mix of adobe and masonry construction, retarding visual and
physical access to the plaza from the east.
Beyond the Practical: Architecture, Placement, and Multiplicity
Adobe is the ordinary architectural medium of the Medio period as hundreds of
settlements were constructed of the material, but the expense of using it on a hill without
immediately available ingredients underscores the conceptual and ideological place of El
Pueblito. In addition, at El Pueblito it is made conspicuous by location. Even though El
Pueblito’s adobe architecture was likely never more than one story it would have been
visually impressive beyond what was standard in valley settlements because it sits on a
natural rise of the mesa that is not immediately perceptible. Standing in the Central
Plaza, the roof of the adobe buildings would have been about 3 m above the average
173
person’s line of sight, and the same would be true of east and west views. In other words,
the adobe architecture fills the vista of onlookers from the most active areas at El
Pueblito. The view from the south would not have created quite the sensation as from
other directions. More importantly, it seems, was the perception as people entered and
moved around El Pueblito. There are additional and equally extraordinary attributes of
this architecture as described in Chapter 5, the unusually thick adobe walls and a room
with 12 walls, but these were likely visually and symbolically experienced in different
ways.
Visitors to El Pueblito would immediately encounter another distinct departure
from their home settlements of adobe rooms. Walking around El Pueblito they would see
the only known instances of rubble core masonry within Casas Grandes’ sway, although
it occurs on hill sites in more distant reaches of the southern southwest United States and
is associated with religious building in Mexico. Mary Helms (1988) writes that
knowledge of the distant, esoteric, and of things that in some way lie beyond the
everyday is a strategy of elders and leaders who often conceal or practice secrecy to
effect mystique, but just as often secret knowledge is conspicuously displayed. It could
be that part of the aura of El Pueblito was the conspicuous display of foreign architectural
technology and tangible reference to distant beliefs associated with hill settlement and
cosmology.
Other distinctive constructions on El Pueblito include rock arcs, alignments,
circles, and low walls. These are clearly differentiated from the more substantial rubble
core masonry architecture although there are also several examples of higher walls.
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Many of these features are found along or near the west margin of the El Pueblito mesa,
but some occur across the settlement. To be sure, these types of features are uncommon
among other settlements and when present there are almost never more than one or two.
An exception is Site 242, a specialized settlement thought to embody an extension of
Paquimé’s leadership, that has 11 stone arcs encircling its adobe architecture. Despite
their apparent simplicity, these spatial divisions add a level of organization to settlement
layout that is understudied in Chihuahua. Whatever the associated activities, the
multiplicity of extramural rock features certainly set some interests apart from others in
an uncommon way.
A striking complex of rock construction at El Pueblito is found along the east side
of the settlement where the mesa rapidly drops several meters before reaching the
precipitous cliff face. There, a passage was constructed through the wall where Bandelier
(1890-1892:565) observed a large slab forming a step by which to pass through the
opening. The function of this complex, especially the monumental wall is unclear. As
discussed in Chapter 5, the wall appears to retain soil on the west side, possibly to create
level space for temporary structures or ramadas. In any event, the massive wall, like the
adobe room and other rubble core masonry examples, is beyond the practical and
constitutes another example of how El Pueblito is unique. All together, the many
different instances of stone alignments, low walls, and the massive rubble core wall at El
Pueblito situate the settlement at a level of organization and architectural differentiation
beyond most others in the region. From this initial view it seems that few of the features
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of this type were positioned to direct the flow of movement about the site but instead
were demarcated spaces for small-scale activities.
THE ULTIMATE DESTINATION AT CERRO DE MOCTEZUMA
To reach the hill summit, travelers must first use one of the many trails leading to
El Pueblito to make the 200 m ascent to the settlement and then use the unmarked and
unassuming atalaya trail originating on the south side of El Pueblito to finally reach the
destination. The trail proceeds south from El Pueblito across the mesa along a narrow,
unmarked walkway and then reaches the steep western slope where it continues upward
as a single-file foot path with only a few instances of minor down slope support. The
trail rises 200 m along the western aspect of the hill, providing an unequaled and ever
changing view of the Sierra Madres to the west, adjacent valleys, and fields and trails
below. After traveling 1 km, about 40 minutes, the trail reaches the uppermost ridge of
the hill, and there, the atalaya is for the first time fully in sight (Figure 7.5). But there
still is a steep climb onward another 260 m to reach the atalaya and along this final
stretch the verdant Casas Grandes River Valley emerges into view to the east.
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Figure 7.5. First view of the atalaya from the atalaya trail, which is visible in center of frame.
Upon arriving at the low outermost wall of the atalaya, the traveler notices there is
no passage through it, thus it must be overstepped to continue up the still steep hill to
reach the next wall. To pass within that second massive, rubble core wall today, visitors
must carefully negotiate former parts of the wall that have fallen to the outside. There is
no evidence of an entry through the wall, suggesting that in prehistoric times entry was
gained by a ladder or a series of steps made of rock, now obscured by wall fall. Once
inside this massive enclosure the surrounding wall would have obscured views to the
outside. The central chambers were not large enough to accommodate crowds but instead
appear to have represented more private quarters for ritual observances. Recall that this
is where the exotic bird wings were found. As described earlier, activities performed in
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the atalaya were restricted to the central rooms because no other part of the summit
appears to have been modified for use. The physically demanding journey to the atalaya
and its remote location from El Pueblito surely predict that this crowing summit precinct
was of singular importance to those who traveled there. By combining ethnographic
evidence that shrines on hills bear cosmological and ritual importance with
archaeologically derived data, it is not unreasonable to suggest that other hilltop features
in the Casas Grandes region were localized ritual shrines that replicated at least part of
what Cerro de Moctezuma’s atalaya signified in the Medio period ritual landscape, a
subject explored in the following chapter.
SUMMARY
Cerro de Moctezuma is unique among other hills around Paquimé in having the
only known hilltop settlement, but it also is distinguished from other Medio period
locales by presumably processional trails and wayside features, where, in most cases,
brief, specialized observances were likely held. Trails initialized perceptions of the hill,
but one in particular stands apart. The northwesternmost trail duplicates the orientation
of the trail directly to the south of it, and it seems curious that two trails from the west
would be required. The attributes of the northwesternmost trail, with its massive down
slope support, associated symbolic passage, and its delivery of travelers to a broad
corridor that could accommodate processions on El Pueblito, indicate that it would
facilitate occasions of unusual importance. In general, trails toward Cerro de Moctezuma
radiate from densely settled valleys surrounding the hill, supporting the interpretation of
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pilgrimages to the hill for ceremonial occasions that likely culminated at the atalaya.
Difficult and strenuous journeys to remote and specialized locations are characteristic of
pilgrimages, and they often involve topographically prominent places such as Cerro de
Moctezuma.
Few artifacts were recovered from the single trench in the atalaya, but the unusual
nature of its small assemblage suggests that the summit precinct was the scene of
practices not enacted elsewhere on Cerro de Moctezuma or in settlements below.
Supporting the inference of exclusive ritual space are an absence of manos, metates, and
abundant pottery but the unique presence of specialized items such as the three bird
wings, a polishing stone, and the only turquoise found during the project. Cerro de
Moctezuma’s trails appear to accommodate more than single file movement of people to
El Pueblito, where plazas would have been venues for communal observance of various
sizes and variable privilege. Increasing exclusivity is evident in the narrower trail from
El Pueblito to the atalaya. Once inside the innermost enclosure atop the hill, the towering
rubble core wall would have concealed visitors from view by the rest of the world.
Finally, the four central chambers created still more restricted space for increasingly
individualized experience.
But Cerro de Moctezuma as a whole was not just a pilgrimage destination nor was
El Pueblito an empty ceremonial center because activities at that site appear to resemble
those at settlements in the near vicinity that have been characterized as the simplest kind
of Medio period residence. Comparative collections come from both simple and more
specialized sites, and El Pueblito’s fits within the range of variability for primarily
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domestic assemblages. The reservoir at El Pueblito speaks to the permanence or
persistence of settlement but, of course, does not necessarily reflect year-round
occupation. El Pueblito looks significantly different in other ways, however. The
placement of its architecture influenced traveler’s perceptions as they entered the
settlement by guiding them along the processional corridor into the Central Plaza that
likely held public activities related to the pilgrimage. Other architecture bounded
smaller, more exclusive gathering places such as the masonry and adobe plazas. The
privacy and exclusivity of El Pueblito’s smaller plazas is not typical among Medio period
settlements except at Paquimé, perhaps indicating that the types of events within the
plazas could only be performed at one of those two settlements, although the specific
activities need not have been duplicated.
Functional differentiation among the several types of architecture on El Pueblito
and the underlying significance of each style cannot be specified with current
information. It could be the case that adobe rooms were the home of El Pueblito’s
permanent residents and many ritual functionaries while the rubble core masonry rooms
served as accommodations for pilgrims. Neither scenario can by supported or rejected
with the data at hand. Nevertheless, other relevant insights into architectural diversity are
possible within the framework of a ritual landscape. The rubble core masonry structures
could represent conspicuous display of specialized and esoteric knowledge of a building
style largely confined to hills from the southwest United States to central Mexico. The
elevated position of the adobe buildings surely accentuated the extravagant use of adobe
on the hill and its designation as architecture of power.
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Common forms of Casas Grandes residence were not constructed at El Pueblito.
Simple adobe rooms fit the expectations of Medio period architecture at ordinary
settlements, but would not have fulfilled the needs of a leadership seeking to secure its
sanctified role as possessors of the privileged knowledge to address requests and desires
of pilgrims. Similarly, single coursed masonry structures could have been built at El
Pueblito from the immediate raw material, but El Pueblito’s builders chose a second
architecture of power, represented in an unusual massive and exotic rubble core style.
Knowledge and execution of that same exotic rubble core style is nowhere expressed so
flamboyantly as at the hill summit in the huge innermost wall of the atalaya.
Differentiation and specialization are means for ritualizing a landscape. Thus, not only
did trails, plazas, and the summit feature represent building blocks of Cerro de
Moctezuma’s place in the ritual landscape, so did El Pueblito’s singular residential
architecture.
First time visitors to Cerro de Moctezuma would have arrived with expectations
based in the ordinary surrounding of their home settlements. Traveling up in elevation
and beyond the everyday, they would have experienced in their journey an extraordinary
destination in the Casas Grandes ritual landscape. These experiences were taken home,
remembered, and reencountered through time, thereby further constructing and
reinforcing an ideology and cosmology of which Cerro de Moctezuma was a crucial
component.
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CHAPTER 8 – FROM ARCHAEOLOGY TO IDEOLOGY:
COMPILING AND CONCEPTUALIZING THE
CASAS GRANDES RITUAL LANDSCAPE
Ritualized landscapes emerge from social processes involving physical,
conceptual, and historical actions and experiences that are practical ways of explaining
the way the world works or of dealing with specific circumstances or realities believed to
exceed the capabilities of human beings. Ritualization involves actions that produce
differentiated and privileged contrasts between certain practices that are enacted at
different scales (Bell 1992). A ritual observance might involve a household or it might
include larger groups from extended families to communities. A spring, rock art location,
or hilltop can individually be sacred places but they are a part of larger landscapes,
together representing collective interests of societies, that although not always understood
in the same way by all members, they are recognizable to most.
Worldview and ideology can be defined as concepts about the way the world
works and the representation of inequalities by factions that draw upon certain aspects of
belief and symbolic systems (DeMarrais et al. 1996; Eagleton 1991:28-29; Knapp 1988;
Van Dyke 2008:31-32). While strategies for dealing with natural and social
circumstances and realities are culturally specific, in general, leaders and followers
structure the landscape in ways through which worldviews emerge and ideologies of
differentiation are created. In the process, certain groups or individuals become
associated with particular ways of facilitating the resolution of social concerns. Actors
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are motivated by self-interest but they also react to emotional loyalties, religious beliefs,
historical circumstances, and memory. These values affect decisions in ritualization and
create and reproduce meaning across the landscape.
Cerro de Moctezuma as a whole was a ritual monument that played a part in the
lives of residents and pilgrims alike as the embodiment of an ideological strategy
associated with a specific local worldview, while also representing trans-regional tenets
associated with elevated landforms. The visually iconic hill would have been a constant
reminder of ideological themes to those living in the Casas Grandes and surrounding
valleys. But, Cerro de Moctezuma was not the only hill-based element in the Medio
period ritual landscape because other hills had similarly placed features of a specialized
sort. In this chapter I describe hill site features in the Casas Grandes hinterland that are
composed of individual or multiple elements found on Cerro de Moctezuma, suggesting
that features on hills in the countryside were local shrines or places of ritual significance
for surrounding settlements. The countryside was further differentiated with ball courts
and massive subterranean ovens, both of which were undoubtedly used in producing and
enacting ritual observances. Ball courts and huge ovens are overt expressions of public
ritual at Paquimé, and that primate center is described in this chapter as a comprehensive
package of ritual components, not unlike Cerro de Moctezuma that also encompasses a
suite of ritual elements that are variably and in a lesser manner expressed on other hills.
The distribution of hill sites, ball courts, and ovens is not isomorphic and it is clear that
people across the Casas Grandes ritual landscape participated in an ideology and
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worldview differentially. Finally, the concept of community offers an additional source
of insights for considering a multifaceted ritual landscape.
VISUALIZING RITUAL COMMUNITIES IN THE CASAS GRANDES LANDSCAPE
Simplifying Yaeger and Canuto (2000), communities are realized through mutual
participation in an activity where people have come together with common interests and
sentiments. Communities in this sense form under particular circumstances and overlap
with other communities formed for different purposes, such that the configuration of one
group is not necessarily reflective of other purposeful gatherings. Moreover, because
circumstances for assembling shift from community to community, the leadership or
specialists for different communal purposes can be just as fluid. I also acknowledge that
gatherings of communion might not be equally understood and participated in by all in
attendance (Varien and Potter 2008). Nevertheless, a common purpose should be
detectable archaeologically, although we may remain ignorant of specific meanings
attached to such activities. Community is the conjunction of “people, place, and
premise” (Yaeger and Canuto 2000:5). Casas Grandes ritual communities, as discussed
here, are dynamic social units that left behind archaeological signatures of organizational
diversity in the form of hill features, ball courts, and ovens. With these concepts I
explore the ways in which such features reflect ritual communities in the Medio period
landscape. These conspicuous features are differentially distributed among settlements
and serve as nodes among which people interacted for certain occasions and on different
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scales. At Cerro de Moctezuma, trails tangibly indicate patterns of interaction along
specific, spatially ordered nodes.
Before moving to those topics, I introduce the survey areas from which
settlement, ball court, and oven data presented below are derived. Figure 8.1 shows the
Casas Grandes heartland where the most intensive programs of settlement survey have
been completed, and where ball court and oven distributional data are most
comprehensive. The survey areas reflect the survey project goals to characterize a vast
area for which even reconnaissance-level information was nonexistent. In an effort to
maximize their observations on regional structure and centralization over an extent of
more than 5000 sq km, Whalen and Minnis (2001b:85-95) selected zones at a range of
distances from Paquimé, the accepted center of population and organization, and
concentrated on select survey areas within those zones. Whalen and Minnis cite well
known settlement survey studies from Mesoamerica as support for their methodology.
The surveys, then, are not full coverage in the technical sense, and the following
observations are based on incomplete knowledge of settlements and the features and
facilities that are found with and among them, in particular, in the Casas Grandes valley
directly north of Paquimé where only a few sites were opportunistically recorded.
Finally, the hilltop feature data is derived from Swanson’s (1997) survey areas shown in
Figure 8.2. Swanson’s full survey methodology is unclear, but he first sought hills that
Di Peso identified as having features he called “Tower (Atalaya)” (Di Peso et al.
1974:5:Figure 284-5).
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Figure 8.1. Settlement survey areas and known settlements in the Casas Grandes heartland. Survey
areas adapted from Whalen and Minnis (2001:Figure 3.15). Settlement data courtesy Whalen and
Minnis.
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Figure 8.2. Hill survey areas and known locations of hill sites in the Casas Grandes heartland.
Survey areas adapted from Swanson (2003:Figure 3). Hill data courtesy Swanson; also see Swanson
(1997).
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Hill Sites
Hilltop Shrines
In Chapter 2 other Casas Grandes hilltop constructions were briefly described as
pale comparisons to the massive atalaya atop Cerro de Moctezuma and as local shrines in
service to settlements around them, but the configurations and locations of features were
not detailed. In this section the features on other hills are described in more detail and
compared to Cerro de Moctezuma’s summit precinct and wayside features in order to
conceptualize these hinterland hill sites as components of a Casas Grandes ritual
landscape. Figure 8.2 shows the currently known distribution of hill sites among
habitation settlements in northwest Chihuahua. What is immediately obvious is that a
few hill sites have no neighboring settlements within appreciable distances. These
apparently vacant surroundings are largely due to lack of survey; I assume that most if
not all hill sites are associated with yet unrecorded settlements.
Swanson (1997) surveyed 107 hills and of those 29 are included here; the other
hills were either featureless or believed antecedent to the Medio period. Fifty-one
features recorded by Swanson on summits and slopes of those hills are classified in this
dissertation as circum-summit alignment, enclosure, room block, cairn, and rock pile,
however; these categories are not coterminous with Swanson’s for the sake of clarity in
the present discussion. For example, Swanson classifies breastwork as a low wall
circumscribing a hill summit, but to avoid a functionally loaded (militaristic) and biased
terminology I call these circum-summit alignments, an alternative way of denoting
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continuous or segmented rock alignments circumscribing hill summits. These features
are no more than about 1 m high and encompass areas up to 90 m in diameter.
Enclosures are the most variable class of features, being circular or rectangular
rock alignments from 0.2-2.7 m high and ranging from 0.75-17.0 m in interior diameter;
the two largest dimensions being from the massive, inner rubble core masonry wall atop
Cerro de Moctezuma. This simple definition undoubtedly masks meaningful differences.
For example, another feature type recorded by Swanson is room block, composed of two
enclosures that share a wall. Unfortunately, then, possible rooms that do not share walls
are not analytically separate from what might otherwise be a high-walled enclosure such
as the atalaya’s massive rubble core inner wall on Cerro de Moctezuma or a simpler rock
circle with little height. Swanson is of the opinion that room blocks and other possible
rooms he reported (i.e., enclosures) were not full-time residences, nor was any hill the
locus of substantial settlement; instead, judging from surface artifact composition (e.g.,
absence of manos, metates) and density, these rooms resemble what have been generally
referred to as field houses (Steve Swanson, personal communication 2010).
Two other types of features on hills are rock piles and cairns. Rock piles
(Swanson’s cairns) are low stacks or single course accumulations no more than 40 cm
high. Cairns (Swanson’s platform cairns) are taller piles or even well stacked courses of
rock from 0.4-2.0 m high. Swanson recorded two additional features on one hill that he
categorized as “Other.” One is a cross-shaped feature consisting of an enclosure about 75
cm in diameter and four radiating rock alignments that are about 3.5 m long; the other
and nearby feature is a rock pile with an upright rock in the center. These features are of
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further significance because, standing in the center of the enclosure and sighting straight
over the upright rock in the cairn several meters away, is a direct view to Cerro de
Moctezuma’s atalaya.
Not all features can confidently be placed within the Medio period because
temporally diagnostic artifacts were rare in their vicinities (Swanson 2003:758). There is
a chance, then, that some were constructed and used in earlier times. For example, there
are numerous rock rings resembling Swanson’s enclosures on terraced hill sites in
northwest Chihuahua that have been dated to the Archaic period (Roney and Hard 2004).
For the present purpose, I consider Swanson’s hill features to have actively marked
meaningful locations during the Medio period because they are morphological
components of the suite of features on Cerro de Moctezuma that are demonstrably Medio
in date and because his GIS analysis shows that every Medio period settlement had a line
of sight to at least one hill site. If the features are of archaic origin, their use in Medio
times could be prompted in part by social memory.
Figure 8.3 shows the distribution of feature types on hills and it is clear from that
illustration that the different features are variably represented. Cairns are found on 22
hills, enclosures on 13, and rock piles on ten; there are only four hills with a circumsummit alignment and three with room blocks. When more than one feature occurs on a
hill, the dominant combination is an enclosure and cairn (n=11). The diversity in some
feature types (e.g., enclosures) complicates absolute comparison with Cerro de
Moctezuma but the definitions still permit immediate recognition of Cerro de
Moctezuma’s uniquely inclusive combination. Of the five feature types (circum-summit
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enclosure, enclosure, room block, cairn, rock pile), all are present at Cerro de
Moctezuma. Its atalaya integrates a circum-summit alignment roughly 45 m in diameter,
a tall and massive inner enclosure 17 m in interior diameter (the rubble core wall), and
finally a room block consisting of 4 interior room divisions. In addition, along Cerro de
Moctezuma’s trails are two cairns on the upper slope, at least four rock piles at low and
high elevations, and three rock rings of relatively small diameter that could be classified
under the enclosure category. Together, these features form a comprehensive package of
otherwise variably deployed hinterland hill site shrines.
Of note are the room blocks, of which only three are known: one on Cerro de
Moctezuma and two lesser examples on hills along arroyos to the east. No room blocks,
then, are known in the far reaches of hill site distribution. The room blocks on the two
other hills are not substantial structures such as those at El Pueblito, with its variety of
imposing rubble core masonry and adobe architectures, plazas, and other defined spaces,
nor are they as substantial as the early descriptions of the conjoined rooms at the center of
Cerro de Moctezuma’s atalaya. Another point of distinctiveness for Cerro de Moctezuma
is the summit precinct’s nested layout of an outermost circum-summit alignment,
imposing inner enclosure, and central room block, a configuration that is not found
elsewhere (Steve Swanson, personal communication 2010). And although Cerro de
Moctezuma’s circum-summit alignment is not the largest in diameter on any peak, it is
accompanied by the tallest, most massive, most formally constructed enclosure, and more
rooms that at any other hill site.
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Figure 8.3. Hill sites in the Casas Grandes heartland and types of features on them. Hill data
courtesy Swanson; also see Swanson (1997).
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Hill Shrine Communities
The variable placement and elaboration of features on hills indicates a nested
importance of hill locations with privileged contrast that is a characteristic of pilgrimage
locations. The current state of research on hill sites allows identification of a hierarchy
with two levels in northwest Chihuahua, Cerro de Moctezuma and all other community
shrines. More nuanced patterns undoubtedly could be recognized with further study.
Cerro de Moctezuma indisputably displays the most complex organization and
comprehensive execution of hill elements in the Casas Grandes realm. The meaning of
the individual elements is not known beyond simple performance implications. If each
type of feature represented a specific symbolic significance with associated knowledge
pertaining to specialized observance, Cerro de Moctezuma would have encompassed the
fullest range of attendant ritual knowledge, at any hill site. I envision hinterland hill sites
as local shrines for community use and visitation, signs of participation in the beliefs
most elaborately expressed at Cerro de Moctezuma. Fish and Fish (2007) have suggested
a comparable scenario for summit precincts in the neighboring Trincheras heartland.
There, secondary trincheras sites are simplified or partial reflections of the ideological
complexity of the regional center Cerro de Trincheras where communal rituals were
maximally expressed.
Local hill shrine communities are the nodes from which we can imagine
pilgrimages to Cerro de Moctezuma beginning, with the most prominent Casas Grandes
summit precinct as the ultimate destination. The processional trails at Cerro de
Moctezuma offer an example of formalization that would have situated and conditioned
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travelers for the observances that probably would have only been available atop Cerro de
Moctezuma. Only two or three other trails are known at other hill sites and they are
never more than about 1 m wide (Swanson 1997). Traveling to Cerro de Moctezuma
would have been an out-of-the-ordinary act for community members and a memorable
journey for travelers coming from home settlements across the Casas Grandes world.
While I envision ritual communities surrounding hinterland hill shrines, it may be
unreasonable to suggest mass pilgrimage to Cerro de Moctezuma. El Pueblito’s
accommodations were unlikely to have supported hordes of travelers. Excluding the
adobe rooms, which may well have been reserved for El Pueblito’s full-time residents
and ritual leaders, there are only about 25 rubble core masonry and rock-in-adobe rooms
(i.e., structures that were roofed) that could have housed visitors to El Pueblito.
However, the area to the west of the massive rubble core masonry wall could have
provided space for ephemeral structures such as ramadas or other temporary lodging,
thereby increasing the space available. El Pueblito’s four plazas could have held between
20 and 200 people. Obviously, any estimate of the number of visitors is contingent on
variables beyond immediate control, the possibility of ephemeral lodging being one, but
also variation in the limits of interpersonal space and spatial tolerances under special
conditions such as visitations to El Pueblito for singular occasions. Finally, although the
atalaya, the presumed ultimate destination at Cerro de Moctezuma, is a “unique
architectural investment” (Swanson 1997), it would not have had the capacity to
accommodate more than about 25 people if all four rooms were in use at the same time,
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and extramural spaces on the summit do not appear to have been altered in any way to
facilitate activities.
Ball Court Communities
In addition to ritual hill sites, the Casas Grandes landscape also is composed of
tangible remains of public rituals, the ball courts. Figure 8.4 shows the distribution of
Casas Grandes-style ball courts in the heartland; three ball courts about 130 km to the
northwest and one ball court about the same distance southeast of Paquimé are not shown
on the map. Also, Whalen and Minnis (1996) report an additional four Casas Grandesstyle courts west of the Sierra Madre in the neighboring state of Sonora. The lack of ball
courts along the Casas Grandes River could reflect survey methodology and coverage as
discussed earlier; however it is noticeable that with one exception courts are also absent
in the northwest zone where intensive survey was conducted. A possible reason for the
dearth of recorded ball courts in the northwest zone could be simply the difficulties of
recognition. Casas Grandes ball courts are known as three types: open, I-shaped, and Tshaped (Whalen and Minnis 1996). Open courts are simple parallel lines of rocks with
nothing on either end field; a low earthen berm sometimes accompanies each rock
alignment. T-shaped courts are formed by an earthen berm on each side of the court area
and a berm along one of the end fields, while I-shaped courts are entirely bounded by low
earthen embankments. Both the T- and I-shaped courts can be completely enclosed by
center court and end field embankments or open, where end field structures are not
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attached to the center court lateral ridges. Known examples of ball courts range in size
from about 245 sq m to nearly 900 sq m (Whalen and Minnis 1996).
Figure 8.4. Distribution of ball courts in the Casas Grandes heartland. Data courtesy Whalen and
Minnis.
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Obviously, Casas Grandes hinterland ball courts are not of the elaborate varieties
known from Tula, Monte Albán, or among the Maya (e.g., Scarborough 1991), nor are
they on the scale of the two I-shaped courts so famously known from Paquimé. There, at
least one court has a playing field area of 1194 sq m (Whalen and Minnis 1996).
Unfortunately, arroyo cutting has partially destroyed the other ball court and its full size
is unknown but what remains appears to be of about the same dimensions as the complete
example. In addition to their great size, these courts are remarkable for each being
accompanied by solid earthen mounds that rise about 2.8 and 4.0 m above the
surrounding surface and consist of about 1400 m3 and 1800 m3 of earth, respectively (Di
Peso et al. 1974:4:Figure 214-4, 1974:5:Figure 181-5). Outside Paquimé, only one other
such mound is known to be associated with a ball court and it is a mere 1 m high and
could not have contained more than about 130 m3 of earth (Whalen and Minnis
1999:Figuras 17 and 18). The simplicity of hinterland Casas Grandes ball courts could
inhibit their recognition during survey and therefore account for the lack of representation
in some areas. Furthermore, their signature surface alignments could readily be
disturbed.
The primary social role of Casas Grandes ball courts is as yet inconclusive, as
discussed in Chapter 2. Whalen and Minnis (1996) conclude that the frequency of courts
in areas closest to Paquimé represents a higher level of integration with that center than in
the areas with fewer courts. For Whalen and Minnis, ball court rituals were largely
scenes of factional competition among local elites. Harmon (2006) argues for a ball court
cult involving shifting statuses of winners and losers of games. Walker and Skibo (2002)
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argue that Casas Grandes-style ball courts in Animas phase southwest New Mexico were
scenes of celestial-based games related to agricultural fertility rituals. Outside the Casas
Grandes interaction sphere, Wilcox (1991) has suggested that Hohokam ball courts were
linked with ceremonial exchange.
Taken together, ball courts represent locations of ritual, but whether or not those
rituals were socially, politically, or religiously motivated remains in a state of debate.
Whatever their specific function, we assume that activities involving ball courts drew
more people than those living at the associated settlement. The exact contemporaneity of
ball courts closest to Paquimé is not well established but they are clustered densely there.
Therefore, those ball courts may have drawn upon a smaller community of participants
than in other areas. Alternatively, clusters of ball courts may have been used sequentially
within prescribed temporal cycles, thereby engaging much larger audiences.
Interaction in the hinterland for ball court rituals could have occurred at different
scales, and larger-scale movement of people from the hinterland to Paquimé for ball court
ritual seems equally valid. From a ritualized landscape perspective, the sophistication of
Paquimé’s courts and associated mounds indicates ranking of ritual events, with Paquimé
at the top of the hierarchy. As the central place, Paquimé’s leaders might have
incorporated and implemented localized elements of ball court ritual in a more elaborate
and vital fashion. Through time, the events at Paquimé could have facilitated actions and
outcomes realized only at Paquimé.
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Feasting Communities
Other conspicuous ritual facilities in the Casas Grandes landscape are large
subterranean ovens, which are recognizable as an outer ring of rock between 8-12 m in
diameter surrounding a central fire pit between 2-5 m in diameter. Some versions have a
circular alignment of intermittent stones set on end between the outer ring and center pit
(Whalen and Minnis 2001b:125-126). Although that particular characteristic is not found
at Paquimé, there are five massive ovens there, four of which are clustered together at the
north end of the site, and average 3.9 m in diameter and 2.5 m deep. A fifth, toward the
center of the site, is impressive at 5.4 m in diameter and 3.3 m deep, and it is associated
with an imposing mound designated Unit 9 (Di Peso et al. 1974:4:275-276, 468).
Minnis and Whalen (2005) calculated that the largest oven at Paquimé could have
produced nearly 3000 kg of baked agave per cooking episode, and accordingly have
interpreted these large ovens as facilities for large-scale production of foods, which could
include agave, corn, and cholla. Ethnographically, pit ovens were used to bake agave
(Castetter et al. 1938; Pennington 1963; Pérez de Ribas 1999:88). Agave and corn in turn
could have been converted to an alcoholic beverage (Bruman 2000; Castetter et al.
1938:61). Minnis and Whalen consider the largest oven at Paquimé to have been a
facility for ritual production of food or beverage because of its proximity to a mound. In
contrast, the other four large ovens at Paquimé were used to produce food and beverage
for economic or political feasting because they are not associated with obvious ritual
architecture. By extension, those researchers conclude that feasting in the hinterland was
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organized at least somewhat differently than at Paquimé because no oven is associated
with ritual architecture.
The strength of the mound-oven association can be questioned. About 10-12 m
and an intervening canal separate Unit 9 and the largest oven at Paquimé. Moreover, the
four massive ovens at the north end of the site are separated by only 20 m from the
Mound of the Cross, a low cross-shaped mound with a circular mound at the end of each
arm. Although a somewhat less imposing platform mound complex due to low height,
the five mounds sit on a natural rise of the site giving them equal prominence to Unit 9.
Di Peso suggested that the Mound of the Cross was a solar sighting station because, as
viewed from the central cross mound, the sun rises directly over the east circular mound
on March 21 and September 21, thus the mound complex was important for scheduling
agricultural matters. If so, these were likely times of ritual observances and could have
involved production from the nearby oven complex for feasting. Whatever the exact
case, Minnis and Whalen have convincingly argued for the large-scale production of
foods for feasting at Paquimé and in the hinterland.
Figure 8.5 shows the distribution of “feasting” ovens in the heartland, including
the massive one at Cerro de Moctezuma that is one of the largest known examples.
Ovens predominate in two settlement survey zones immediately west and southwest of
Paquimé, although a few are found to the northwest. None of the currently known large
ovens are at settlements along primary watercourses, and comparatively few are along
secondary drainages, while nearly two-thirds are in upland environments, perhaps exactly
where agave might be emphasized as a drought-adapted crop and where ovens would be
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predicted considering their presumed major use for baking agave. It is worth noting that
the ovens along the secondary drainages are in narrow arroyo valleys directly adjacent to
sloping landscapes that are, like the upland environments, preferred topographic locations
of nonriverine farming. Minnis and his colleagues (2006) recently documented
agriculturally engineered landscapes near the settlements with large ovens, finding many
small, probably family-based fields and a few extraordinarily large systems. Together,
the fields encompass 17 km2 and have nearly 30 km of rock alignments or trincheras that
would have allowed cultivation in otherwise marginally productive areas. Types of crops
grown behind the trincheras have not been identified, but agave is a likely candidate by
comparison to other well-documented occurrences of probable agave cultivation in the
Tucson and Safford Basins (Doolittle and Neely 2004; Fish et al. 1992). In Mexico,
agave line terrace walls (Parsons and Parsons 1990).
In contrast to the largest roasting ovens in some Hohokam areas (Fish et al. 1992),
those in the vicinity of Paquimé occur predominately at settlements rather than as
distinctive features of field systems. The implications of location for the social value of
ovens appear striking in comparison. While initial processing (i.e., harvesting) obviously
would have taken place in fields, baking of agave within settlements must have been
notable events in themselves. Collection, processing, and consumption of agave as food
and beverage and attendant restrictions, taboos, and designed procedures related to
baking agave are recorded among a wide range of groups (Castetter et al. 1938:28-56;
Pérez de Ribas 1999:391). Events featuring production and consumption of agave were
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occasions of much celebration among the Zuni in former times, where even the opening
of baking pits prompted “universal rejoicing” (Cushing 1920:235-236).
Figure 8.5. Distribution of massive “feasting” ovens in the Casas Grandes heartland. Data courtesy
Whalen and Minnis.
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Precise kinds of ritual and proscription associated with Casas Grandes ovens are
speculative but planting, harvesting, processing, and feasting must have required
organizational priorities and ritual knowledge of certain members living in hinterland
communities. They could have been the same authorities who organized travel to
Paquimé for shared concerns such as agricultural scheduling and celebrations of new
planting seasons. I do not think that organization was necessarily qualitatively different
in the hinterland despite the absence of a mound-oven relationship, although the scale of
organization and events would have been much greater at Paquimé. The relationship
with public architecture at Paquimé would have accentuated the observances related to
the production of food and beverage, and would have elevated Paquimé’s position as an
authority of ritual associated with the production of food and beverage.
THE RITUAL LANDSCAPE AT PAQUIMÉ
Ritual communities are composed of interacting groups of people from different
home settlements joined together for both religious and secular observances. Ball courts
and ovens are two facilities found across the Medio period ritual landscape that identify
intersections of those communities. Ball courts and ovens are also found at Paquimé and
there they are far more elaborated, occur in greater numbers, and are associated with
additional ritual architecture and facilities among differentiated domestic and public
buildings. Paquimé is the ultimate expression for the elements composing the Medio
period ritual landscape. Here I describe experiences that visitors might have had at
Paquimé, coming together for broader societal interests whether they were civic,
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religious, communal, or factional. This is not an exhaustive account; rather, I focus on
the ritualization of the settlement for identifying fundamental contrasts with the
surrounding landscape.
Visitors to Paquimé were presented conspicuous elements signifying the
settlement’s position in the Casas Grandes landscape. Over-engineered high-rise
dwellings and rooms with up to 18 walls; a city water delivery, retention, and disposal
system; public and restricted venues; and a ceremonial precinct formed the central place
during Medio times. Writing of Paquimé, Christine VanPool and Todd VanPool
(2007:27-32) weave together the desert setting, artifacts, iconography, a walk-in well,
and the city water system to summarily describe Paquimé as a metaphorical “water city.”
Water was channeled 3.61 km to Paquimé from a spring, Ojo Vareleño (Bandelier 18901892:554-555; Di Peso et al. 1974:5:830). When it reached Paquimé, tributary canals
carried water throughout the adobe rooms and plazas and into reservoirs. The water
system is not known to be replicated at any contemporary settlement in the southwest
United States or northwest Mexico and would have been a powerful symbol of prowess
in capturing such a precious commodity, thus elevating Paquimé’s prestige among
visitors and followers of the entwined ideological precepts.
We do not know if Paquimé had formal entrances but they are strongly suspected.
And they were likely approached from magnificent trails as were other premier
prehistoric settlements such as the great houses in the Chaco world or La Quemada in
Zacatecas, but any signs of Paquimé’s trails have probably been lost to modern farming
and housing development around that great center. To be sure, as approached from the
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east, Paquimé is an imposing adobe pueblo mass. Bartlett (1854) estimated that rooms
could have reached six stories, but we now know that was probably not the case. The
architecture that Bartlett saw is built on the edge of a steep terrace of the Casas Grandes
River valley and there is as much as 9 m elevation difference between the highest points
of the adobe architecture and the ground surface below the terrace, from which Bartlett
likely gazed (Whalen et al. 2010). Anyone entering Paquimé from the east would have
faced a monumental adobe residence unlike anything from the hinterland. It is tempting
to think that the architects of Paquimé manipulated perception by locating the residences
on the terrace edge. Although much of the interior of the adobe buildings were private
residences the setting makes the room block public, and as Moore notes, public
architecture can reflect larger dimensions of social order (Moore 2005:2). Other
approaches appear as planned as the east entrance. From the north visitors would pass
the cluster of large ovens, the Mound of the Cross, and an I-shaped ball court and mound,
while from the south another I-shaped ball court and a D-shaped mound would be
encountered before approaching a colonnaded gallery. The approach from the west
would have taken visitors through the ceremonial precinct of platform mounds an Ishaped ball court, a massive oven, and a reservoir.
Walking around the city visitors surely heard the clamor of macaws and turkeys
from cages within many of the walled plazas that were themselves architecture of power
with an average wall thickness of 85 cm. Macaws and turkeys were not kept for
subsistence. Most of the 503 recovered military, scarlet, and other macaws and 344
turkeys were buried in graves, some with human interments (Di Peso et al. 1974:8).
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Sixty-one percent of the turkeys were buried headless and the majority of the macaws
were dead by the end of their first year, the age when they would have produced their
first full, brilliantly colored tail feathers, which were apparently plucked for use in ritual
and ceremony. Feathers are imperative components of many southwest Pueblo rituals
and ceremony where they are found on prayer sticks or given as offerings, and they are
related to gods and spirits (Cushing 1920:161; Jett 1994). Birds themselves are believed
to be messengers of the world in which they travel (Tyler 1979). Turkeys are associated
with rain and crop ceremonies (Vogt 1969). Some visitors to Paquimé were likely
aviculturalists themselves because there is evidence of macaw cages in the hinterland in
the form of cylindrical and donut-shaped cage door elements of stone that were ground
into shape (Minnis et al. 1993; Whalen and Minnis 2001b:129-130). However, there is
no evidence in the hinterland of large-scale aviculture such as at Paquimé.
The plumes of these birds, or even the birds themselves, might have been a part of
ceremonies held in the open and closed plazas, and atop the many mounds in the
ceremonial district. None of the mounds were the bases of residences, and all but three
most likely were platforms from which speeches and ritual performances were broadcast.
We do not know if the mounds were communal property, belonged to kin or corporate
groups of the settlement, or were used at different times of the year or for different
ceremonies. What we do know is that only one other settlement in the Casas Grandes
hinterland contains an earthen mound (Whalen and Minnis 2001b). Mounds, then, are
particularly conspicuous ritual features at Paquimé.
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Another obvious difference between Paquimé and other settlements is the
formality of plazas in the case of the former and the scarcity of such qualities elsewhere.
Reference to Figure 2.2b and 2.2c shows plazas in the hinterland to be defined at
significant changes in the shape of a melted adobe residential mound’s perimeter,
forming U- or C-shapes open to the outside of the architecture. The stone footings shown
in Figures 2.2a and 2.2b could also have demarcated plazas. Nevertheless, a few fully
enclosed plazas are suspected from field survey maps (Minnis and Whalen 1992). In a
few words, plazas do not appear to have been made private or enclosed except in a few
cases, El Pueblito being one example. At Paquimé, Di Peso excavated about 30 enclosed
plazas totaling nearly 7800 sq m of space, excluding his purported but doubtful “East
Plaza” (Di Peso et al. 1974:4:263; see alsoWhalen et al. 2010). Walking around the
settlement today it is clear that some of the plazas were more public than private, and
Wilcox’ (1999) preliminary analysis using space theory confirms the casual observation
that public and private plazas were built at Paquimé. Of particular note is the so-called
Central Plaza, which Di Peso interpreted as a ceremonial and trading venue (Di Peso et
al. 1974:5:813). It is bounded by architecture to the east with the remainder being a low,
plastered rock wall that bears a striking resemblance to I-shaped ball courts (Di Peso et
al. 1974:5:Figure 198-5). The plaza was indeed public in the spatial sense and could
have accommodated scores of visitors. By the calculation introduced in Chapter 5, the
Central Plaza conservatively could have held about 550 people.
One of the more significant aspects about the Central Plaza is the Mound of the
Offerings at the northwest corner. The mound was so named because of the socio-
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religious paraphernalia found in its interior vaults and by the dearth of domestic artifacts
(Di Peso et al. 1974:4:305). Excavation also revealed post-cranial remains of three
individuals interred in three unusually large Ramos Polychrome jars; Di Peso surmised
one of the individuals was the Mesoamerican merchant who settled in the valley and
precipitated the Medio period, while the other two may have been his successors. That
Paquimé’s founding family is represented in the urns is not an unreasonable idea, even
without invoking Mesoamerican travelers. Burial accoutrements included a human
phalange necklace, a human long bone musical rasp, and two other unworked human
long bones (Di Peso et al. 1974:8:372) that seem undeniably ritual and sacred.
Interestingly, ritualized human sacrifice at Paquimé has been proposed based on new
evaluation of the human remains from that settlement (Casserino 2009). Di Peso
hypothesized that the placement of the mound tangent to the Central Plaza was
intentional for it effects upon visitors, but if that were the case visitors would have had to
know or see interpretable signs what was inside. Whether visitors were allowed to enter
the vaults or if the vaults and their contents were part of esoteric lore, the placement of
the mound seems to have been intentionally and specifically public. The aura enveloping
the Mound of the Offerings and its meanings were nowhere more obviously spectacular
in the Casas Grandes world.
CONCLUSIONS
Strategies of contrast and differentiation are most emphatically expressed in the
ritualization of Paquimé. Architecture of power has been ascribed to Paquimé’s adobe
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buildings for their robust wall thickness and elaborately shaped rooms (Whalen and
Minnis 2001a) but that designation also should include the enhanced perception of
monumentality achieved by placing them at the edge of the valley terrace, where visitors
would have first seen them on a heightened landform. This elevated positioning
undoubtedly inspired explorers and archaeologists to estimate more stories for room
blocks than can be accounted for (Whalen et al. 2010). Other points of access into the
great settlement appear to have been made to appear dramatic, for example near the
colonnaded galley to the south. Entering Paquimé set the mood for the magnified kinds
of activities inside.
Mounds not only were physical features without equal elsewhere in the Casas
Grandes ritual landscape but also were likely the stages from which to dramatize central
beliefs in efforts to instill a worldview that would be remembered and carried back to
home bases. The presumed ostentatious display atop mounds carried over to Paquimé’s
two magnificent I-shaped ball courts and accompanying mounds where perhaps other
ideological rituals engaged elites vying for status. Of course such contests could have
blended actions denoting status with more cosmological ideals because worldviews often
provide the source through which ideological ranks emerge. Cooking in the massive
ovens at Paquimé likely involved orchestrated actions and ritualized proscriptions. The
production from ovens could have been used in a variety of circumstances but were likely
accompaniments to ball court rituals and festivities surrounding occasions of gathering
around mounds.
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Tangible reproductions of ritual in the hinterland are less elaborately expressed
either in form, quality, or quantity than at Paquimé. In terms of ball courts and ovens,
associated rituals may have involved different scales of interaction within ritual
communities that formed and transformed according to circumstances. The meanings of
rituals enacted at Paquimé may have been transmitted outward to surrounding
settlements. It is equally plausible according to ritualization theory that ritual premises
and features were originally widespread across the region and through time Paquimé
gained favor or extended its sway by adopting ever-greater physical embellishment of
ritual facilities. That strategy and the associated ritual knowledge base at Paquimé would
have elevated the status of ritual leaders and promoted perceptions that they were
fundamental for fulfilling needs of societal concern. Agricultural scheduling is one such
possibility. While ball court rituals and the products from ovens could have had
overlapping uses, the facilities are not distributed equally in the hinterland, suggesting
organizational diversity among communities that, in turn, would have entailed managerial
requirements providing local leadership opportunities. Decisions of those leaders would
have influenced placement and construction of facilities, scheduling of events, and
capabilities to stage rituals and reaffirm their meanings.
Another archaeologically evidenced class of ritual in the hinterland is not
duplicated at Paquimé, however. I refer to the hilltop sites across the hinterland that I
propose were scenes of more intimate rituals than at ball courts or ovens. I also consider
that the settlements around these hills constituted ritual communities or catchment fields.
Each settlement in the countryside had a direct view to at least one hill site and
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sometimes more than one, suggesting that the corresponding communities could have
been primarily oriented toward rituals on specific hills. Variable forms of shrines on
these hills are fully represented in the components on Cerro de Moctezuma. The specific
rationales for variable replication of hill shrines are unknown, but Cerro de Moctezuma’s
central position in the network of shrines indicates that while local communities might
have constructed shrines to fulfill ritual needs, they also may have felt constrained in
their efforts of elaboration and content in deference to Cerro de Moctezuma. I also
suggest that Cerro de Moctezuma was the ultimate hilltop pilgrimage destination in
Medio times. The characteristics of local shrines and the elaboration and remote setting
of the atalaya are consistent with theoretically derived and ethnographically observed
nested configurations of ritual pilgrimage. Considering the widespread occurrence of hill
sites, it seems obvious that local shrines were related in some hierarchical manner to
Cerro de Moctezuma.
Whether and where ritual specialists specifically related to hill observances lived
among outer communities is unknown. The answer might depend on more
comprehensively locating shrines and better understanding the organizational
requirements of hilltop ritual. The placement of shrines could have been guided by
historical circumstances or memory of times past, suggesting local knowledge and
communal decision-making. On the other hand, that knowledge could have resided with
select individuals, and if that were the case would reflect appreciable ritual specialization.
Additionally, it may be worth considering whether hills were selected because they could
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be viewed from settlements or whether settlements at times were established based on
visual access to shrine locations.
Another line of questions concerns the complexity of ritual. I envision hilltop
ritual to be a more intimate affair than, say, ball court rituals, but we do not know if ritual
specialists were necessary to execute those observances or if everyone had the
prerequisite knowledge and qualifications to visit shrines and adequately perform ritual
mandates. If specific forms of shrines corresponded with specific meanings, then Cerro
de Moctezuma represented many ritual interests and a reservoir of knowledge not found
in the hinterland. The complexities of Cerro de Moctezuma and the monumental effort
put into the summit precinct strongly indicate coordinated orchestration at that site.
Trails, agricultural fields, El Pueblito, and the summit atalaya combine into the
second most complexly organized Casas Grandes settlement location. Both Paquimé and
this nearby prominent hill are unique elements of the Medio period landscape and while
they are different in many ways, they share parallels. Both have architecture of power
represented in materials, forms, and placement of construction. And both contain the
most elaborate versions of key components of the larger ritual landscape. Paquimé,
among other items, has ball courts and mounds, while Cerro de Moctezuma has a
uniquely located and architecturally impractical settlement and an ostentatious,
unparalleled crowning summit precinct. In a few words, each concentrated the trappings
of specialization and embodied construction effort far beyond the practical. The
extravagantly displayed ritual elements of these two places are not wholly replicated
elsewhere but there are reflections of each in the hinterland.
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With no other substantial settlement on a hill during the Medio period, El Pueblito
is without equivalent. Why is it there? If its residents lived on Cerro de Moctezuma to
manage agricultural surplus, as has been implied (Minnis et al. 2006), then we would
expect it to be below the hill closer to the fields; furthermore no other attractive economic
resource has been identified. I argue that El Pueblito and the atalaya were integral parts
of a much broader, trans-regional ideology and worldview of hill settlement and use,
locally implemented by the leadership at Paquimé and that at least some of its residents
were ritual specialists who conducted prescribed and privileged ceremonies. I understand
El Pueblito and Paquimé to have been intimately related, if not part of the same
settlement in a broad sense, perhaps with some ritual leaders living intermittently at both
premier sites.
Cerro de Moctezuma dominates the western panorama for Paquimé (see Figure
1.1) and would have constituted an immediate and highly visible landmark for that
center’s residents and visitors. Moreover, a trail segment recorded during this project
surely once continued to Paquimé, directly linking the two monumental places. The
atalaya atop the hill is visibly detectable from Paquimé, and Di Peso et al. (1974:4:227,
Figure 164-5) report an angled room window with a view directly to Cerro de
Moctezuma’s summit precinct. The specific meanings and kinds of ceremonies
performed at Cerro de Moctezuma may never be known, but within a vast array of hilloriented ideologies mapped onto sacred landscapes, from central Mexico to the northern
southwest United States, it is difficult to imagine Paquimé, the renowned capital of
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Medio times, and Cerro de Moctezuma as unrelated major components of the local sacred
geography.
Whalen and Minnis (2001b:189-190; 2009) observe that ritual facilities and other
signs of leadership strategies or signifiers of authority, such as ball courts, ovens, and
large agricultural fields, are absent or nearly so within about 15 km of Paquimé and that
the functions associated with those facilities were absorbed by the primate center. Yet,
Cerro de Moctezuma is squarely within that zone of influence and it has a massive oven,
an unexpectedly large upland agricultural system, and the most comprehensive set of hillrelated ritual features. Others have suggested that the leadership at Paquimé used
religious ideals and symbols as resources for creating and maintaining their preeminent
position (Di Peso 1974; Whalen and Minnis 2001b, 2009). That leadership can be
envisioned as specifically selecting Cerro de Moctezuma in order to monumentally
broadcast their role as paramount holders of religious knowledge associated with hills.
Whether that ideological strategy involved capitalizing on an existing cosmology
originally widespread throughout the hinterland or whether hill-related ideals were first
transmitted outward from Paquimé and Cerro de Moctezuma and thereafter adopted by
local constituencies is unknown. Casas Grandes archaeology is still in its infancy and
perhaps more research will lead to clues directly relevant to such a question.
El Pueblito existed because of a ritual mandate. Some people left the valleys
filled with neighbors to live and conduct ceremonies on Cerro de Moctezuma in order to
accomplish cosmologically driven directives. Ethnographically, elevated landforms are
homes of ancestors, deities, and of life giving waters, symbolic phenomena that are
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infused in societal practices. If Paquimé required extensions of its central role in the
hinterland, such as at the administrative Site 242, hill settings were likely prerequisites
for maintaining a balance between natural forces and society. Cerro de Moctezuma
conceptually represents a specialized, centrally crafted ritual destination that must have
reinforced and maintained central beliefs and values emanating from Paquimé. The
sights and sounds of the ritual landscape permeated far-flung Medio period settlements.
Ritually charged places were crafted, communities gathered for suites of observances
under special circumstances, and Cerro de Moctezuma was an iconic physical and
ideological pinnacle of that Casas Grandes world.
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APPENDIX A – EL PUEBLITO ARTIFACT ANALYSES AND COMPARISONS
The analyses of artifacts from El Pueblito presented in this appendix are
summarized in Chapter 6, where wood and faunal remains and miscellaneous artifacts
from Cerro de Moctezuma also are discussed. Some of that discussion is reproduced here
for maximum clarity and continuity. A limited surface collection contributes to generallevel understanding of site activities. Adobe, rock-in-adobe, rubble core masonry, and
extramural rock features oriented an intra-settlement stratified sampling program in
which 13 features were test excavated. These features and the volume excavated in each
are listed in Table A.1 and shown in Figure 6.1. The general issue of functional
differences among architecture and feature types is evaluated through comparison of
assemblages of ceramics, chipped stone, and ground stone. Each class of artifact also is
separately compared across feature types.
Table A.1. Test excavated features at El Pueblito.
Feature Number
Volume (m3)
1
7
15
19
21
24
28
35
36
39
49
56
71
11.50
0.33
0.88
0.53
0.50
0.59
1.83
2.66
2.24
0.73
0.03
0.94
0.77
Feature Description
Feature Class
Room in adobe mound
Low rock wall enclosure
Rubble core masonry structure
High rock wall enclosure
Rubble core masonry structure
Rock arc
Rubble core masonry structure
Rubble core masonry structure
Rubble core masonry structure
Rubble core masonry structure
Single course rock enclosure
Rock-in-adobe structure
Single course rock enclosure
Adobe
Rock Feature
Rubble Core
Rock Feature
Rubble Core
Rock Feature
Rubble Core
Rubble Core
Rubble Core
Rubble Core
Rock Feature
Rock/Adobe
Rock Feature
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Figure A.1. El Pueblito on Cerro de Moctezuma showing the locations of test excavated features (red)
and controlled surface collection units (green).
In addition to the intra-site analysis, comparisons to four other Medio period
settlements are made. The comparative site collections comprise 55 fully and partially
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excavated rooms and 2 extramural features (about 425.0 m3) compared to test trenches
and units in eight rooms and five features at El Pueblito (about 23.5 m3). Only limited
comparisons to Paquimé can be made because, unfortunately, its data do not exist in
comparable form. For example, artifact recovery from Paquimé, or at least retention and
reporting procedures, apparently did not include all chipped stone. From three years of
nearly continuous excavation of almost 15 hectares that included several public
ceremonial precincts and over 250 rooms, only 3714 pieces of chipped stone are reported
(Di Peso et al. 1974:7:Figure 423-7). At El Pueblito, limited surface collections and only
23.5 m3 of excavation produced 2895 pieces of chipped stone. Whalen and Minnis
(2009:183-184, 204-205) have rigorously supported the contention that samples from
Paquimé are biased; to summarize, chipped stone is weighted toward items of fine-grain
material and ground stone is overrepresented by whole pieces to the exclusion of
fragments. Additionally, I strongly suspect that ceramic sherd size data are skewed
toward large sizes.
SURFACE COLLECTIONS FROM EL PUEBLITO
Surface collections from El Pueblito were examined in an effort to 1) maximize
the characterization of artifact diversity at El Pueblito, 2) identify activities outside
recognized architectural and feature boundaries, and 3) evaluate correspondence between
surface and subsurface deposits. Surface artifacts were collected in three ways. A
general surface collection contains opportunistically and nonsystematically retrieved
artifacts from areas outside the boundaries of architecture and other features without the
218
use of transects or measured areas. All artifacts were collected from three 2-m diameter
units. Finally, surface artifacts were collected from within the boundaries of known
plazas, buildings, and extramural rock features. These surface data offer preliminary
characterizations of the range of activities and their spatial distributions.
General Surface Collection
Table A.2 shows general surface ceramic types and counts. Medio period ceramic
types follow those of Di Peso et al. (1974:6:108-316), which were used for all local
ceramic type identifications. Of twenty-two defined Medio period types, fourteen were
present on El Pueblito’s surface. In addition to the local types are Chupadero Black-onwhite (n=2), El Paso Polychrome (n=1), and one red-on-brown that resembles types from
southeastern Arizona but is too small to confidently identify. The category “Small”
includes sherds that are smaller than 2.5 cm and idadequate for accurate identification. In
short, there is nothing out of the ordinary about this collection and no local sherd predates or post-dates the Medio period.
General surface chipped stone in Table A.3 includes flakes in all stages of
reduction, broken flakes, debris, cores, broken cores, scrapers, tabular knives, a large
biface, and projectile points, analyzed in accordance with the four other recently
excavated collections referenced later in this appendix (see Gutzeit 2008). Whole flakes
were classified as primary, secondary, or tertiary based on the percent of visible cortex (>
50 %, < 50 %, absent). Figure A.2 illustrates two projectile points, a tabular knife, a
scraper, a large stemmed biface, and a core from the collection. The projectile points
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comprise two of three Medio period points (unspecified types) recovered from El
Pueblito. The one unusual item is the large stemmed biface that it is so distinctive among
Medio collections that it could have a specialized, perhaps ceremonial, use.
Table A.2. Ceramic counts from the general surface collection at El
Pueblito.
Class/Type
Local
Plain
Scoreda
Incisedb
Broad Coil
Tool Punched
Playas Red
Black-on-red
Babicora Polychrome
Carretas Polychrome
Ramos Polychrome
Villa Ahumada Polychrome
Babicora/Ramos Polychrome
White paste
Indeterminate Chihuahuan
Non-local
Chupadero Black-on-white
El Paso Polychrome
Red-on-brown (SE Arizona?)
Other
Unknown
Small
Total
a. Includes Plain, Rubbed, and Pattern Scored.
b. Includes Plain and Pattern Incised.
Count
409
24
2
1
5
46
2
4
4
20
4
8
2
4
2
1
1
1
1426
1966
220
Table A.3. Chipped stone counts from the general
surface collection at El Pueblito.
Item
Flake
Broken Flake
Debris
Core
Broken Core
Scraper
Tabular Knife
Stemmed Biface
Projectile Point
Total
Count
114
207
271
6
14
3
9
1
2
627
Figure A.2a-e. Examples of chipped stone tools from the general surface collection at El Pueblito: a)
projectile points, b) tabular knife, c) stemmed biface, d) scraper, e) core. Illustrations by Gutzeit.
221
Ground stone items from the general surface collection includes axes, mauls,
bowls, hammerstones, manos, mano blanks, metates, a pestle, and a shaft straightener
(Table A.4). An additional shaft straightener was observed on the surface prior to the
surface collection but could not be relocated. One axe and maul are notable for their
greater size than any recovered from Paquimé (Figure A.3).
Table A.4. Ground stone counts from the general
surface collection at El Pueblito.
Item
Axe
Bowl
Hammerstone
Mano
Mano Blank
Maul
Metate
Pestle
Shaft Straightenera
Total
Count
6
2
2
11
3
8
2
1
1
36
a. An additional shaft straightener observed prior to
the collection could not be relocated.
Figure A.3. An unusually large axe from the general surface collection at El Pueblito.
222
Comparison of Controlled Surface Collection Units
All artifacts were collected from three 2-m-diameter collection units, none of
which were located within known architectural or feature boundaries (Figure A.1). The
following tables list density and ratios for each of the three collection units. Table A.5
shows the assemblage as a whole, Table A.6 shows plain and decorated ceramics, Table
A.7 shows decorated ceramics by surface treatment, and Table A.8 shows classes of
chipped stone. Collection Unit 65 has the highest density of artifacts (48.5/sq m), nearly
twice the other units, and it has a nearly equal ratio, 0.9, of ceramics to chipped stone,
compared to 0.5 and 0.1 for the other units (Table A.5). Although the number of
decorated ceramics is low, Unit 65 has the highest density and the distribution across
decorated classes is nearly equal (Table A.7). Finally, Table A.8 shows even amounts of
flakes and debris in unit 65, which also has the highest number of tools. Collection Units
63 and 71 are similar in overall artifact density, 29.5/sq m and 25.0/sq m, respectively
(Table A.5). However, ratios of ceramics to chipped stone differ, with Unit 71 having 9
pieces of chipped stone for every sherd and unit 63 having 1.95 pieces of chipped stone
for every sherd (Table A.5).
To the degree that this sort of artifact heterogeneity indicates specialized or
limited activity sets rather than variability in secondarily deposited trash, then variation in
activities is reflected across collection units. The collections could represent different
activities, and in particular, Unit 71, with its flakes, cores, and debris, appears to
represent stone reduction. Thus, while only one possible activity can be specified (stone
reduction), the differences among albeit small collection areas suggest that informal and
223
extramural areas on El Pueblito hold information regarding settlement activities and
special purpose locations. Further, controlled collection and even excavation of outdoor
areas at El Pueblito and other settlements holds promise for a fuller understanding of
Medio period activities.
Table A.5. Densities and ratios of ceramics, chipped stone, and ground stone from controlled
surface collection units at El Pueblito.
Unit
Ceramic
Chipped Stone
Total
Density (sq m)
Ratio
20
46
5
39
51
45
59
97
50
29.5
48.5
25.0
0.5
0.9
0.1
63
65
71
Table A.6. Densities and ratios of plain and decorated ceramics from controlled surface collection
units at El Pueblito.
Unit
Plain
Decorated
Total
Density (sq m)
Ratio
63
65
71
18
39
3
2
7
2
20
46
5
10.0
23.0
2.5
9.0
5.6
1.5
Table A.7. Densities of decorated ceramics from controlled surface collection units at El Pueblito.
Unit
63
65
71
Textured
2
2
0
Red
0
2
1
Black-on-red
Polychrome
Total
0
1
0
0
2
1
2
7
2
Density (sq m)
1.0
3.5
1.0
Table A.8. Densities of chipped stone from controlled surface collection units at El Pueblito.
Unit
63
65
71
Flake
Debris
Core
Tool
Total
28
23
27
9
23
16
0
1
2
2
4
0
39
51
45
Density (sq m)
19.5
25.5
22.5
224
Surface Collections from Plazas
Plaza surface collections come from the North and South Masonry Plazas, the
Adobe Plaza, and a small patio (Feature 27) attached to Feature 28 (Figure A.1). The
Central Plaza was, unfortunately, included in the general surface collection prohibiting
separate evaluation. Of significance for formation processes, the patio and the Adobe
Plaza are likely to have subsurface deposits while the North and South Masonry Plazas
are on bedrock. The assemblages of ceramics, chipped stone, and ground stone from
these areas are similar, with chipped stone as the highest proportion (71-97%), followed
by ceramics (10-30%) and ground stone (0-1%; Figure A.4; Table A.9). The North
Masonry Plaza is statistically different from the other contexts combined with regard to
proportions of ceramics and chipped stone (χ2 = 12.77, df = 1, p = 0.0004; Cramer’s V =
0.1885). Ground stone is absent from the patio and Adobe Plaza and only one metate and
one mano were found in the North and South Masonry Plazas, respectively; therefore
they were removed from the statistical analysis to avoid violation of cell size. Figure A.5
shows that the South Masonry Plaza and Adobe Plaza have similar proportions of plain
and decorated ceramics, while the patio and North Masonry Plaza are similar. Fisher’s
Exact Test indicates that the association between ceramic surface treatment and
provenience is not significant (p = 1.0000). Thus, with regard to ceramics, all four
contexts are alike.
225
100
Percent
80
60
40
20
0
Ceramics
Patio
Chipped Stone
NMP
SMP
Ground Stone
Adobe Plaza
Figure A.4. Proportional comparison of ceramics, chipped stone, and ground stone from the surfaces
of El Pueblito’s plazas (see Table A.9).
Table A.9. Proportions of ceramics, chipped stone, and ground stone from the surfaces of El Pueblito’s
plazas (see Figure A.4).
Ceramics
Patio
NMP
SMP
Adobe Plaza
Chipped Stone
Ground Stone
Total
n
%
n
%
n
%
n
%
7
21
18
17
29.2
9.9
18.6
30.4
17
191
78
39
70.8
89.7
80.4
69.6
0
1
1
0
0.0
0.5
1.0
0.0
24
213
97
56
100
100
100
100
Percent
226
90
80
70
60
50
40
30
20
10
0
n=6
n=18
n=13
n=5
n=1
n=13
n=4
n=3
Patio
NMP
Plain
SMP
Adobe Plaza
Decorated
Figure A.5. Proportional comparison of plain and decorated ceramics from the surfaces of El
Pueblito’s plazas.
The chipped stone data are shown graphically in Figure A.6 and summarized in
Table A.10. In general, flakes dominate the assemblages (44-77%), followed by debris
(18-54%), cores (0-6%), and tools (0-3%); the Adobe Plaza deviates from that pattern by
having a larger proportion of debris than flakes. Only one or two cores were recovered
from all loci except the Adobe Plaza. Three tabular knives were found, two in the South
Masonry Plaza and one in the Adobe Plaza. Cores and tools are present at such low
numbers that they are disregarded for statistical purposes. The difference between
contexts with regard to proportions of flakes and debris is significant (χ2 = 11.13, p =
0.011; Cramer’s V = 0.1871). However, when the aberrant Adobe Plaza is removed from
statistical analysis the result is not significant (χ2 = 4.2, p = 0.1225; Cramer’s V =
0.1225), indicating that indeed the Adobe Plaza contains an assemblage of flakes and
debris different from all other contexts.
Percent
227
90
80
70
60
50
40
30
20
10
0
Flake
Debris
Patio
NMP
Core
SMP
Tool
Adobe Plaza
Figure A.6. Proportional comparison of chipped stone from the surfaces of El Pueblito’s plazas (see
Table A.10).
Table A.10. Proportions of chipped stone from the surfaces of El Pueblito’s plazas (see Figure A.6).
Flake
n
Patio
NMP
SMP
Adobe Plaza
137
119
55
17
Debris
Core
Tool
Total
%
n
%
n
%
n
%
n
%
76.5
62.3
70.5
43.6
3
7
20
21
17.6
36.6
25.6
53.8
1
2
1
0
5.9
1.0
1.3
0.0
0
0
2
1
0.0
0.0
2.6
2.6
17
191
78
39
100
100
100
100
Surface Collections from Buildings and Extramural Rock Features
Figure A.7 illustrates assemblages from the surfaces of adobe architecture, rockin-adobe, rubble core masonry, and extramural rock features. Variation is evident in the
proportions of ceramics (24.6-62.6%) and chipped stone (35.5-74.4%), and ground stone
is absent from all categories except the adobe architecture (Table A.11). Ground stone is
therefore not included in statistical analysis. The difference between proveniences with
regard to proportions of ceramics and chipped stone is significant (χ2 = 92.39, df = 3, p. <
0.0001; Cramer’s V = 0.3442). Discrimination of proveniences groups the adobe and
228
rubble core masonry structures on the one hand and rock-in-adobe and rock features on
the other, and it is significant (χ2 = 86.87, df = 1, p < 0.0001; Cramer’s V = 0.3364).
80
70
Percent
60
50
40
30
20
10
0
Ceramics
Adobe
Chipped Stone
Rock/Adobe
Ground Stone
Rubble Core
Rock Features
Figure A.7. Proportional comparison of ceramics, chipped stone, and ground stone from the surfaces
of El Pueblito’s buildings and extramural rock features (see Table A.11).
Table A.11. Proportions of ceramics, chipped stone, and ground stone from the surfaces of El Pueblito’s
buildings and extramural rock features (see Figure A.7).
Ceramics
n
Adobe
Rock/Adobe
Rubble Core
Rock Features
224
11
93
58
Chipped Stone
Ground Stone
Total
%
n
%
n
%
n
%
62.6
37.9
56.7
24.6
127
18
71
178
3.5
62.1
43.3
75.4
7
0
0
0
2.0
0.0
0.0
0.0
358
29
164
236
100
100
100
100
Figure A.8 shows ceramic data divided into plain and decorated. In all cases,
plain ceramics dominate the surface assemblages, from 71-91 percent, while decorated
ceramics are a small percentage of the different collections, ranging from about 9-29
percent. The collection from the rock-in-adobe architecture has an especially low percent
of decorated ceramics (9.1%). Despite apparent differences among architectural units,
229
however, the proportions of plain and decorated ceramics are not statistically significant
(χ2 = 3.99, df = 3, p = 0.2625; Cramer’s V = 0.1017).
100
n=10
n=74
Percent
80
n=42
n=160
60
40
n=64
n=16
n=19
20
n=1
0
Adobe
Rock/Adobe Rubble Core Rock Features
Plain
Decorated
Figure A.8. Proportional comparison of plain and decorated ceramics from the surfaces of El
Pueblito’s buildings and extramural rock features.
Figure A.9 graphs the chipped stone and all proveniences share the general trend
of predominately flakes (53.4-63.0%) followed by debris (27.8-42.7%), cores (2.211.1%), and tools (0-4.2%). Tools are absent from the adobe architecture and the nearby
rock-in-adobe architecture. All recovered tools are tabular knives except for one biface
from the rock-in-adobe (Table A.12). Extramural rock features are notable for having
slightly different proportions of flakes and debris than all other features, and the
difference is significant (χ2 = 13.73, df = 1, p = 0.0002; Cramer’s V = 0.2059). Finally,
ground stone from the surface of the adobe mound includes one hammerstone, one mano,
five metates, and one fragment of a possible round entry frame for a bird cage.
230
70
60
Percent
50
40
30
20
10
0
Flake
Mound
Debris
Rock/Adobe
Core
Tool
Rubble Core
Rock Features
Figure A.9. Proportional comparison of chipped stone from the surfaces of El Pueblito’s buildings
and extramural rock features (see Table A.12).
Table A.12. Proportions of chipped stone from the surfaces of El Pueblito’s buildings and extramural rock
features (see Figure A.9).
Flake
Adobe
Rock/Adobe
Rubble Core
Rock Features
Debris
Core
Tool
Total
n
%
n
%
n
%
n
%
n
%
80
11
39
95
63.0
61.1
54.9
53.4
43
5
24
76
33.9
27.8
33.8
42.7
4
2
5
4
3.1
11.1
7.0
2.2
0
0
3
3
0.0
0.0
4.2
1.7
127
18
71
178
100
100
100
100
Surface collections vary in assemblage composition within recognizable feature
boundaries on El Pueblito. Similar assemblage compositions were anticipated from
subsurface deposits, however, as will be seen in the following section, that is not
generally the case. Overall, surface assemblages are not necessarily reliable predictors of
subsurface deposits.
231
EXCAVATED ASSEMBLAGES FROM EL PUEBLITO AND INTER-SETTLEMENT COMPARISONS
Analysis goals for excavated assemblages include comparison among different
architectural types and features and comparison between El Pueblito and other Medio
period settlements. The analyses provide grounds for assessing activities at El Pueblito
and placing it into a larger Casas Grandes context for measuring settlement roles and
specialization. Admittedly, sample sizes from El Pueblito are not ideal; nevertheless, the
excavated data provide an additional gauge of the range of this settlement’s activites and
its place in the Medio period landscape.
Comparison of Excavated Assemblages from El Pueblito
Figure A.10 shows excavated ceramic, chipped stone, and ground stone as
proportions within the different provenience categories. The basic assemblage is
remarkably similar across El Pueblito except from the adobe architecture, where ceramics
and chipped stone proportions differ from other excavated contexts. The adobe has about
84 percent ceramics and 16 percent chipped stone, whereas the rock-in-adobe, rubble
core masonry, and extramural rock features range from about 48 percent to 52 percent of
both ceramics and chipped stone (Table A.13). Ground stone was recovered only from
the adobe and rubble core structures, and because those items exist as such a low number
they are removed for statistical purposes. The difference between the adobe architecture
and all other proveniences combined with regard to proportions of ceramics and chipped
stone is significant (χ2 = 581.38, df = 1, p < 0.0001; Cramer’s V = 0.3519). Clearly,
whatever activities occurred within the adobe room required more ceramics and chipped
stone less often. Artifact classes will be further discussed in succeeding sections,
232
especially to expand on the difference between adobe and other contexts but inter-
Percent
settlement comparison of assemblages will now be reviewed.
90
80
70
60
50
40
30
20
10
0
Ceramic
Adobe
Chipped Stone
Rock/Adobe
Rubble Core
Ground Stone
Rock Features
Figure A.10. Proportional comparison of excavated ceramics, chipped stone, and ground stone from
El Pueblito’s buildings and extramural rock features (see Table A.13).
Table A.13. Proportions of excavated ceramics, chipped stone, and ground stone from El Pueblito’s
buildings and extramural rock features (see Figure A.10).
Ceramics
Adobe
Rock/Adobe
Rubble Core
Rock Features
n
%
2424
33
538
368
83.8
48.5
51.3
51.8
Chipped Stone
n
459
35
509
342
Ground Stone
Total
%
n
%
n
%
15.8
51.5
48.5
48.2
7
0
2
0
0.2
0.0
0.2
0.0
2890
68
1049
710
100
100
100
100
Inter-settlement Comparison of Excavated Assemblages
Figure A.11 illustrates comparative data for major artifact classes from El
Pueblito and four other Medio settlements, which were excavated by Michael Whalen
and Paul Minnis, and El Pueblito. Briefly, Sites 204, 231, and 317 are interpreted as
being relatively ordinary residential settlements, although there is an I-shaped ball court
233
at Site 204 and two pit ovens at 317, suggesting some supra-settlement activities at those
two sites. In contrast, the occupants of Site 242, with its extremely large rock agricultural
field system and massive and unusual architecture, have been characterized as
discharging duties directly associated with the goals of leaders from Paquimé (Whalen
and Minnis 2009:267-269), producing implications for a distinctive assemblage.
Considering El Pueblito’s specialized settlement characteristics, its assemblage could
more closely resemble that from Site 242 or differ more from Sites 204, 231, and 317; or
both.
100
Percent
80
60
40
20
0
El Pueblito
Ceramic
204
231
Chipped Stone
242
317
Ground Stone
Figure A.11. Proportional comparison of excavated ceramics, chipped stone, and ground stone from
the adobe architecture at El Pueblito and four other Medio period settlements (see Table A.14).
The data from El Pueblito and Site 242 only include those from adobe
architecture because the other comparative sites only have data from adobe architecture
(Figure A.11). All settlements have higher proportions of ceramics than chipped stone
and ground stone, with ground stone always being proportionately much less than the
other two classes (Table A.14). Figure A.11 shows that, indeed, Site 242 is different
from all other settlements in having a conspicuously low proportion of chipped stone, but
234
that El Pueblito’s adobe building assemblage is not similar to Site 242. Instead, El
Pueblito’s adobe is nearly identical to Site 317, which was described by its excavators as
a simple type of residential settlement in their sample (Whalen and Minnis 2009:273274). Statistical analysis of the data confirms that the difference between sites with
respect to proportions of ceramics, chipped stone, and ground stone is significant (χ2 =
5425.11, df = 8, p < 0.0001; Cramer’s V = 0.1968). As settlements from the small, large,
simpler, and more complex varieties are included, it can be concluded that when
considering only El Pueblito’s adobe assemblage, settlement type or primary inferred
function does not correspond necessarily with proportional compositions of ceramics,
chipped stone, and ground stone.
Table A.14. Proportions of excavated ceramics, chipped stone, and ground stone from the adobe
architecture at El Pueblito and four other Medio period settlements (see Figure A.11).
Ceramic
Settlement
El Pueblito
204
231
242
317
n
2424
27535
3695
6656
10167
Chipped Stone
%
83.9
63.0
76.0
97.2
86.5
n
459
15639
1147
161
1559
Ground Stone
%
n
%
15.9
35.8
23.6
2.4
13.3
7
514
17
28
19
0.2
1.2
0.4
0.4
0.2
Total
n
2890
43688
4859
6845
11745
%
100
100
100
100
100
Figure A.12 shows the same comparison as Figure A.11 but includes all
excavated architecture and features at El Pueblito and extramural rock features from Site
242 in order to maximize observations of potential diversity in settlement activities.
While there are proportional shifts (e.g., El Pueblito’s chipped stone percentage rises) the
general picture presented by these more inclusive data remains the same (Table A.15).
235
At this level of analysis variation across settlements in artifact assemblages is again
apparent but it is notable that El Pueblito’s assemblage fits squarely within the
proportional range of ceramics, chipped stone, and ground stone from the other
settlements. Activities at El Pueblito must have crosscut the kinds practiced at most
settlements.
100
Percent
80
60
40
20
0
El Pueblito
Ceramic
204
231
Chipped Stone
242
317
Ground Stone
Figure A.12. Proportional comparison of excavated ceramics, chipped stone, and ground stone from
all contexts at El Pueblito and four other Medio period settlements (see Table A.15).
Table A.15. Proportions of excavated ceramics, chipped stone, and ground stone from all contexts at El
Pueblito and four other Medio period settlements (see Figure A.12).
Ceramic
Settlement
El Pueblito
204
231
242
317
n
3363
27535
3695
8044
10167
Chipped Stone
%
71.3
63.0
76.0
95.5
86.5
n
1345
15639
1147
354
1559
Ground Stone
%
n
%
28.5
35.8
23.6
4.2
13.3
9
514
17
28
19
0.2
1.2
0.4
0.4
0.2
Total
n
4717
43688
4859
8426
11745
Despite the lack of correspondence between settlement characterization and
assemblage composition according to major artifact classes, other differences between
%
100
100
100
100
100
236
settlements with respect to individual artifact classes will be discussed in following
analyses. The next step is to evaluate differential use of spaces at El Pueblito by looking
more closely at ceramics, chipped stone, and ground stone from the sample of
architecture and features.
Comparison of Excavated Ceramics from El Pueblito
Plain and decorated sherd proportions from excavated contexts at El Pueblito are
illustrated in Figure A.13. The adobe architecture has a slightly lower proportion of
decorated ceramics (15%) than the other proveniences (20-30%). Chi-square test of
association between variables shows that there is not a statistically significant difference
in plain and decorated proportions between rock-in-adobe, rubble core masonry, and rock
features (χ2 = 1.79, df = 2, p = 0.4086; Cramer’s V = 04.37). However, when those three
proveniences are lumped as All Other, there is a significant difference between the adobe
architecture and other proveniences combined (χ2 = 21.93, df = 1, p < 0.0001; Cramer’s
V = 0.0816). Thus, there appears to be less use of decorated vessels within the adobe
architecture.
Percent
237
90
80
70
60
50
40
30
20
10
0
n=2069
n=422
n=293
n=738
n=23
n=10
n=116
n=355
Adobe
n=75
Rock/Adobe Rubble Core Rock Features
Plain
n=201
All Other
Decorated
Figure A.13. Proportional comparison of excavated plain and decorated ceramics from El Pueblito.
An additional, yet simple, distinction can be made between bowls and jars. The
surest method of distinguishing bowls and jars in Medio period assemblages is using rims
because interior surfaces of jars are often well-finished. Figure A.14 represents the rims
from El Pueblito (rock-in-adobe architecture is not included because there are no rims),
and jars provide a larger part of the assemblage in the adobe architecture, by a ratio of
15.25 (Table A.16). In contrast, jar and bowl ratios are much lower (between 1.3 and
1.7) in the rubble core masonry and rock features. The difference between adobe and
rubble core masonry and rock features with respect to proportions of jars and bowls is
significant (χ2 = 18.81, df = 1, p < .0001; Cramer’s V = 0.399). Thus, jars predominate
within the adobe architecture and bowls and jars are more evenly represented in the other
proveniences.
238
100
Percent
80
60
40
20
0
Jar
Bowl
Adobe
Rubble Core
Rock Features
Figure A.14. Proportional comparison of excavated jar and bowl rims from El Pueblito (see Table
A.16).
Table A.16. Proportions of excavated jar and bowl rim from El Pueblito (see Figure A.14).a
Jar
Adobe
Rubble Core
Rock Features
Bowl
Total
n
%
n
%
n
%
61
25
12
93.8
61.0
57.1
4
15
9
6.3
39.0
42.9
65
40
21
100
100
100
Ratio
15.25
1.66
1.33
a. There are no rims from the rock-in-adobe architecture.
Initial differences can be identified among architecture and features at El Pueblito.
Although there are more plain vessels and more jars from the adobe architecture
compared to other proveniences, the specific activities producing the differences are
uncertain. Conceivably, it was less important to have vessels with added information
(i.e., decoration) within the adobe room that was excavated, and if that was the case, the
room might have been a more exclusive locus at the settlement. By its eccentric shape
the room is not likely to have been typically domestic. Similar rooms at Paquimé have
239
been interpreted as special purpose spaces, either for storage or for accommodating
religious and public officials (Di Peso 1974:2:290).
A reasonable inference from the higher proportion of jars is that there was more
storage within the adobe architecture. Vessel sizes are instructive measures of storage
capacity and other use factors, so it is unfortunate that samples are inadequate to evaluate
propositions concerning ranges of vessel size. The only pottery class with more than a
few rims is plain jars. Figures A.15 and A.16 show the distribution of those rims from
adobe architecture, rubble core masonry, and rock features; no rims were found in the
rock-in-adobe architecture. Figure A.15 shows the full range of rim diameters with three
potential class sizes of plain jars, graphed in Figure A.16. The three class sizes (11-15
cm, 16-23 cm, and 24-31 cm) are fairly evenly distributed, except for rock features where
the largest size is absent. The medium class size, 16-23 cm, makes up the largest
percentage in all contexts, while the largest class size, 24-31 cm, is proportionately
smallest in the adobe and masonry. The small sample size, unfortunately, makes
statistical statements impossible and it would be premature to interpret greater storage in
the adobe room based on rim diameters. In fact, with admittedly low sample sizes, it
appears that vessel sizes are rather evenly represented across El Pueblito.
Count
240
7
6
5
4
3
2
1
0
11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31
Diameter
Adobe
Rubble Core
Rock Features
Figure A.15. Range of excavated Plainware rim diameters from El Pueblito.
n=4
70
n=15
60
n=5
Percent
50
40
30
n=7
n=3 n=2
20
n=3 n=1
10
n=0
0
11-15
16-23
Diameter
Adobe
Rubble Core
24-31
Rock Features
Figure A.16. Proportions of small, medium, and large Plainware jars using excavated rim diameters
as a proxy for vessel size.
Inter-settlement Comparison of Excavated Ceramics with Notes on Chronology
Earlier, whole assemblages of ceramics, chipped stone, and ground stone from
five settlements were compared; assemblage composition with these inclusive categories
appears not to straightforwardly correspond to settlement characterization as small or
large, or simple or specialized, or be determinative for discriminating settlement function.
241
However, examining ceramic assemblages in more detail has previously proved to be
constructive in distinguishing settlements (e.g., Whalen and Minnis 2009).
Table A.17 shows the ceramic type counts and proportions from El Pueblito and
Sites 204, 231, 242, and 317. No strong contrastive tendencies are revealed, but nearly
all defined ceramic types were found in the excavations at El Pueblito. Escondida and
Dublan Polychromes are rare at most sites, so their absence from the limited sample at El
Pueblito is not necessarily definitive. Nevertheless, the absence of Dublan Polychrome,
combined with the presence of Ramos Polychrome and red-on-black ceramics, situates El
Pueblito within later Medio times, ca. A.D. 1300 to 1450. Dublan is a primarily early
Medio period type that decreases in frequency thereafter, while Ramos and red-on-black
ceramics are post-A.D. 1300 occurrences (Larkin et al. 2004:196; Whalen and Minnis
2009:115-125).
Table A.18 shows polychrome counts as percentages of all polychromes. Data
from trash deposits at Site 204 show that a low ratio of Babicora Polychrome-to-Ramos
Polychrome is an indicator of the late Medio period (Whalen and Minnis 2009:126). El
Pueblito has a ratio of 0.22, the lowest for excavated sites shown in Table A.18. Thus,
the low ratio of Babicora-to-Ramos further strengthens the ceramic evidence for a late
Medio period occupation at El Pueblito. Because Babicora Polychrome was made
throughout the Medio period, however, an early Medio occupation as well cannot be
eliminated.
242
Table A.17. Ceramic type proportions from excavations at El Pueblito and four other Medio period
settlements.
El Pueblito
Type
n
%
Plain
2826 83.9
Broad Coil
2
0.1
10
0.3
Corrugateda
29
0.9
Inciseda
116
3.4
Scoreda
Tool Punched
11
0.3
Playas Red
222
6.6
Ramos Black
39
1.2
Black-on-red
7
0.2
Babicora Polychrome
9
0.3
Carretas Polychrome
2
0.1
Corralitos Polychrome 19
0.6
Dublan Polychrome
0
0.0
Escondida
0
0.0
Huerigos
1
0.0
Ramos Polychrome
41
1.2
Villa Ahumada
29
0.9
White paste Babicora
6
0.2
Non-local
1
0.0
Total
3370 100.0
204
n
231
%
19901 72.1
56
0.2
560
2.0
1064
3.9
995
3.6
267
1.0
2074
7.5
627
2.3
6
0.0
298
1.1
143
0.5
24
0.1
75
0.3
37
0.1
26
0.1
987
3.6
394
1.4
1
0.0
63
0.2
27598 100.0
n
242
%
3150 85.3
1
0.0
39
1.1
171
4.6
139
3.8
7
0.2
43
1.2
65
1.8
3
0.1
31
0.8
4
0.1
0
0.0
3
0.1
3
0.1
0
0.0
19
0.5
11
0.3
6
0.2
0
0.0
3695 100.0
n
317
%
5680 85.3
126
1.9
42
0.6
47
0.7
189
2.8
7
0.1
178
2.7
192
2.9
52
0.8
33
0.5
4
0.1
8
0.1
0
0.0
0
0.0
9
0.1
70
1.1
14
0.2
5
0.1
0
0.0
6656 100.0
n
%
8099 79.7
0
0.0
386
3.8
280
2.8
399
3.9
24
0.2
785
7.7
60
0.6
15
0.1
49
0.5
0
0.0
1
0.0
2
0.0
0
0.0
0
0.0
21
0.2
43
0.4
3
0.0
0
0.0
10167 100.0
a. Includes Plain, Rubbed, and Pattern types.
Table A.18. Polychrome proportions from excavations at El Pueblito and four other Medio period
settlements.
El Pueblito
Type
n
Babicora Polychrome
9
Carretas Polychrome
2
Corralitos Polychrome 19
Dublan Polychrome
0
Escondida
0
Huerigos
1
Ramos Polychrome
41
Villa Ahumada
29
White-paste Babicora
6
Total
107
%
8.4
1.9
17.8
0.0
0.0
0.9
38.3
27.1
5.6
100.0
204
n
231
%
298 15.0
143
7.2
24
1.2
75
3.8
37
1.9
26
1.3
987 49.7
394 19.8
1
0.1
1985 100.0
n
31
4
0
3
3
0
19
11
6
77
242
%
40.3
5.2
0.0
3.9
3.9
0.0
24.7
14.3
7.8
100.0
n
33
4
8
0
0
9
70
14
5
143
317
%
23.1
2.8
5.6
0.0
0.0
6.3
49.0
9.8
3.5
100.0
n
%
49 41.2
0
0.0
1
0.8
2
1.7
0
0.0
0
0.0
21 17.6
43 36.1
3
2.5
119 100.0
243
Corralitos is the third most abundant type represented at El Pueblito at 17.8
percent of polychromes, a proportion greater than other sites by a factor of nearly 3.
Currently, Medio period ceramic assemblages with such a high proportion of Corralitos
are unknown elsewhere, including the primate center of Paquimé where it represents only
3.59 percent (Whalen and Minnis 2009:Table 4.4). The percentage from El Pueblito
appears aberrant, but available information cannot account for its abundance.
The differences between settlement assemblages do not readily translate into
differentiated settlement function, although El Pueblito’s high percentage of Ramos
Polychrome is similar to Sites 204 and 242, with public architecture, and it is most unlike
Sites 231 and 317, both of which have been described as the simplest kind of settlement.
One attribute that positions El Pueblito closer to Site 242 than the other sites is the jar-tobowl ratio. Using rim sherds, Whalen and Minnis (2009:152-153) found that Paquimé,
Site 204 trash and room deposits, and Site 231 and 317 rooms contained a jar-to-bowl
ratio between 2 and 3. Site 242 had a ratio of 20, contrasting markedly with its
contemporaries. As a whole, El Pueblito has an excavated jar-to-bowl ratio of 3.3 (Table
A.16). But El Pueblito’s contexts also differ clearly, with the adobe mound having a
much higher proportion of jars than bowls. The other proveniences have a somewhat low
ratio of 1.5, but the adobe architecture’s very high ratio of 15, resembles that of Site 242.
By this single measure, then, El Pueblito and Site 242 are more similar to each other than
to other settlements, including Paquimé.
Finally, Whalen and Minnis (2009:153) observe that while 60-68 percent of jars
from Sites 204, 231, and 317 are plain and 40-57 percent of bowls are plain, the situation
244
at Site 242 is quite different. There, more than 90 percent of the jars are plain, but the
authors do not provide the percent of plain bowls from Site 242. When the rim
assemblage from El Pueblito is compared to 242, the results do not conform
straightforwardly to Whalen and Minnis’ data. Although 75.5 percent of the excavated
jar rims from El Pueblito are plain, a high percentage by their characterization, 67.9
percent of the excavated bowl rims are plain (Table A.19). The percentage of plain jars is
higher than Sites 204, 231, and 317, and it lies somewhere between those sites and Site
242, but it has a markedly higher percent of plain bowls
Table A.19. Plainware jar and bowl proportions compared to all other types from El
Pueblito.
Jar
Type
n
Plainware
All Others
Total
74
24
98
Bowl
%
75.5
24.5
100.0
n
%
19
9
28
67.9
32.1
100.0
Comparison of Excavated Chipped Stone from El Pueblito
Figure A.10 and Table A.13 showed that the adobe architecture has a low
proportion of chipped stone (16%) relative to all other excavated El Pueblito contexts
(48-51%), indicating manufacture or use of chipped stone was not as common there. A
closer look at the kinds of chipped stone in each assemblage may disclose whether
chipped stone differences between the adobe and other contexts is a result of similar but
less intense activities or different kinds of activities. This comparison uses four classes:
flakes (primary, secondary, tertiary, broken), debris (pieces lacking identifiable flake
245
attributes), cores (whole, broken), and tools (scraper, tabular knife). Differences are
apparent between the adobe architecture and all other contexts with reference to flakes
and debris (Figure A.17 and Table A.20). The adobe architecture has a higher proportion
of flakes (62.7%) and a higher proportion of debris (31.8%) than the other contexts
(53.3% and 43.8%). However, when the proveniences are separated in Figure A.18 it can
be seen that the assemblages from rock features weight the contrastive distributions
(Table A.21). Statistical evaluation is not possible due to empty cells, so an alternative
data combination is based on similarities seen in Figure A.18. Accordingly, adobe, rockin-adobe, and rubble core masonry contexts (all structures) are combined and plotted
against rock features (Figure A.19 and Table A.22). The difference between architectural
types and extramural rock features with respect to proportions of classes of chipped stone
is significant (χ2 = 31.24, df = 3 p < .0001; Cramer’s V = 0.1525).
The difference between all architecture and extramural rock features (Figure
A.19) is the result of the assemblages from Features 7, a low walled enclosure, and 71, a
small stone circle near the north end of the site’s massive long wall, as shown in Figure
A.20 (see Table A.23). Features 19 and 24, a high D-shaped rock wall attached to the
massive wall and a stone arc, respectively, are more similar to the adobe, rock-in-adobe,
and rubble-core masonry in having decreasing proportions of flakes, debris, cores, and
tools. Features 7 and 71, in contrast, both have a higher proportion of debris than flakes,
and similar proportions of cores and tools to other proveniences. There appear to be
major functional differences between this low walled enclosure and small stone circle on
the one hand and the D-shaped wall and arc (Features 19 and 24) on the other. Given
246
these data, the relationship of these chipped stone patterns to feature morphology is
unclear.
A high proportion of debris in Features 7 and 71 could indicate initial testing of
cobbles, in which case there might be a higher proportion of primary flakes. Inspection
of Table A.24 shows that not to be the case. In all cases tertiary and broken flakes
dominate. Flakes with no cortex visible on the dorsal surface, in fact, dominate the whole
flake assemblage. More specific insights into reasons for high proportions of debris are
left until inter-settlement comparison of chipped stone.
70
60
Percent
50
40
30
20
10
0
Flake
Debris
Adobe
Core
Tool
All Other
Figure A. 17. Proportional comparison of excavated chipped stone from El Pueblito’s adobe
architecture and all other contexts (see Table A.20).
Table A.20. Proportions of excavated chipped stone from El Pueblito’s adobe architecture and all other
contexts (see Figure A.17).
Flake
Adobe
All Other
Debris
Core
Tool
Total
n
%
n
%
n
%
n
%
n
288
472
62.7
53.3
146
388
31.8
43.8
15
17
3.3
1.9
10
9
2.2
1.0
459
886
%
100
100
247
70
60
Percent
50
40
30
20
10
0
Flake
Adobe
Debris
Rock/Adobe
Core
Tool
Rubble Core
Rock Features
Figure A.18. Proportional comparison of excavated chipped stone from all contexts at El Pueblito
(see Table A.21).
Table A.21. Proportions of excavated chipped stone from all contexts at El Pueblito (see Table A. 18).
Flake
Adobe
Rock/Adobe
Rubble Core
Rock Features
Debris
Core
Tool
Total
n
%
n
%
n
%
n
%
n
%
288
22
300
150
62.7
62.9
58.9
43.9
146
13
197
178
31.8
37.1
38.7
52.0
15
0
7
10
3.3
0.0
1.4
2.9
10
0
5
4
2.2
0.0
1.0
1.2
459
35
509
342
100
100
100
100
248
70
60
Percent
50
40
30
20
10
0
Flake
Debris
Buildings
Core
Tool
Rock Features
Figure A.19. Proportional comparison of excavated chipped stone from El Pueblito’s buildings and
extramural rock features (see Table A.22).
Table A.22. Proportions of excavated chipped stone from El Pueblito’s buildings and extramural rock
features (see Figure A.19).
Flake
Buildings
Rock Features
Debris
Core
Tool
Total
n
%
n
%
n
%
n
%
n
%
610
150
60.8
43.9
356
178
35.5
52.0
22
10
2.2
2.9
15
4
1.5
1.2
1003
342
100
100
249
70.0
60.0
Percent
50.0
40.0
30.0
20.0
10.0
0.0
Flake
Debris
7
19
Core
24
Tool
71
Figure A.20. Proportional comparison of excavated chipped stone from El Pueblito’s extramural
rock features (see Table A.23).
Table A.23. Proportions of excavated chipped stone from El Pueblito’s extramural rock features (see Table
A.20).
Flake
Debris
Core
Tool
Total
Feature
n
%
n
%
n
%
n
%
n
%
7
19
24
71
14
6
59
71
35.0
54.5
64.1
35.7
22
4
29
123
55.0
36.4
31.5
61.8
1
1
4
4
2.5
9.1
4.3
2.0
3
0
0
1
7.5
0.0
0.0
0.5
40
11
92
199
100
100
100
100
Table A.24. Proportions of excavated whole and broken flakes from El Pueblito’s extramural rock features.
Primary
Secondary
Tertiary
Broken
Total
Feature
n
%
n
%
n
%
n
%
n
%
7
19
24
71
1
0
5
2
7.1
0.0
8.5
2.8
1
0
9
6
7.1
0.0
15.3
8.5
2
5
11
29
14.3
83.3
18.6
40.8
10
1
34
34
71.4
16.7
57.6
47.9
14
1
59
71
100
100
100
100
A simple but insightful measure of both intra- and inter-settlement differences is
raw material types. Figure A.21 shows chipped stone raw material types as proportions
250
from excavated contexts (Table A.25). Chert is always least represented in each of the
architectural and extramural rock feature proveniences, ranging from 19.5 percent to 28.7
percent. In the adobe and rock-in-adobe architectures basalt is proportionately higher
(36.2% and 45.7%) than rhyolite (35.1% and 31.4%), while that trend is reversed in the
rubble core masonry and rock features, which have more rhyolite (47.4% and 37.1%)
than basalt (33.1% and 36.8%). The difference between the four excavated contexts with
regard to proportions of raw material types is significant (χ2 = 22.1, df = 6, p = 0.0012;
Cramer’s V = 0.0908). Note, however, the similar proportions of raw material types from
the adobe architecture and rock features. Those contexts produced insignificant
differences in raw material types. Thus, adobe architecture and rock features are more
similar than the other contexts.
50
45
Percent
40
35
30
25
20
15
Basalt
Adobe
Rock/Adobe
Chert
Rubble Core
Rhyolite
Rock Features
Figure A.21. Proportional comparison of excavated chipped stone raw material types from El
Pueblito (see Table A.25).
251
Table A.25. Proportions of excavated chipped stone raw material types from El Pueblito’s buildings and
extramural rock features (see Figure A.21).
Basalt
n
Adobe
Rock/Adobe
Rubble Core
Rock Features
165
16
168
126
Chert
Rhyolite
Total
%
n
%
n
%
n
%
36.2
45.7
33.1
36.8
131
8
99
89
28.7
22.9
19.5
26.0
160
11
241
127
35.1
31.4
47.4
37.1
456
35
508
342
100
100
100
100
Another basis for gauging functional differences between areas of settlement
activity is chipped-stone tools. At El Pueblito there are 18 recognizable tools with ten of
these from the adobe architecture, five from the masonry architecture, and three from
extramural rock features; there are no tools from the rock-in-adobe architecture (Table
A.26). Of the 18 tools, sixteen are tabular knives, one is a scraper, and three are
projectile points (two of which are of Archaic period age). Nine of the tabular knives
came from the adobe architecture, while four others are from a rubble core masonry
structure (Feature 28), and three are from a rock feature (Feature 7). Similar tools have
been ethnographically observed (e.g., Castetter et al. 1938) and archaeologically
interpreted (e.g., Fish et al. 1992) as tools for processing agave. The presence of tabular
knives at El Pueblito is in keeping with extensive field systems of rock agricultural
features along the western slope of Cerro de Moctezuma. Multiple tabular tools from
several contexts suggest localized activity and the overall importance of agave processing
for the site in general.
252
Table A.26. Counts of excavated stone tools from El Pueblito.
Adobe
Rubble Core
Rock Features
Projectile Pointa
Scraper
Tabular Knife
Total
1
0
0
0
1
0
9
4
3
10
5
3
a. Does not include two Archaic period projectile points from the adobe architecture.
Two of the projectile points are clearly of a size uncharacteristic of the Medio
period, and they resemble those of archaic times. In fact, one is classified as an Early
Archaic San Jose point made from ignimbrite, while the other is a Middle to Late Archaic
Palmillas type made from chert (Gutzeit 2008). These points likely represent curated
items, a phenomenon known at other Medio period settlements or could be indicative of a
preceding Archaic hill occupation of unknown nature (Whalen and Minnis 2009:103,
203-204). The other projectile point is recognizable as produced during Medio times but
is of unspecified type. All these points came from the adobe architecture. The scraper
came from a rubble-core masonry room (Feature 36).
Inter-settlement Comparison of Excavated Chipped Stone
Whalen and Minnis (2009:200) observed statistically significant differences in
raw material types between the settlements they excavated, despite the fact that three of
the settlements are close together and in very similar settings; they attribute the
significant difference to local availability of raw materials. The three dominant materials,
basalt, chert, and rhyolite are used in the present analysis to the exclusion of minor
amounts of obsidian, igniumbrite, and quartzite. Table A.27 shows counts of raw
253
materials as percents of chipped stone assemblages from El Pueblito and the settlements
excavated by Whalen and Minnis. At El Pueblito chert is proportionately lowest (24.4%)
among the raw material types, with rhyolite (40.2%) and basalt (35.4%) more common.
At all other settlements dominant materials are combinations of either chert and rhyolite
or chert and basalt. Local availability may have strongly influenced raw material choice
at El Pueblito as it did at other settlements. Cerro de Moctezuma is composed of
alternating layers of basalt and rhyolite, and the latter makes up the El Pueblito substrate
itself.
Table A.27. Proportions of excavated chipped stone raw material types from El Pueblito and four other
Medio period sites.
Basalt
Chert
Rhyolite
Settlement
n
%
n
%
n
%
El Pueblito
204
231
242
317
475
1075
186
201
748
35.4
7.0
11.8
36.5
30.4
327
8619
312
264
994
24.4
56.0
19.8
48.0
40.4
539
5706
1075
85
717
40.2
37.1
68.3
15.5
29.2
Total
n
1341
15400
1573
550
2459
%
100
100
100
100
100
Whalen and Minnis (2009:185-204) also found that frequencies of most chipped
stone artifact categories vary significantly between sites but found no interpretably
patterned difference. Core and core fragments are a small part of each settlement’s lithic
assemblage and they are not statistically different among settlements. El Pueblito’s
percentage of cores (2.4%) is slightly higher than Sites 231, 242, and 317 (1.12-1.48%)
and slightly lower than Site 204 (3.86%; Table A.28). It is not, then, out of the ordinary.
However, El Pueblito’s proportions of flakes and debris show a striking departure from
254
all other settlements. While the settlements excavated by Whalen and Minnis have flake
percentages between 81 and 94 and debris percentages between 5 and 17, El Pueblito’s
chipped stone assemblage has about 57 percent flakes and 40 percent debris. The
dramatic difference between El Pueblito and the other settlements is graphically
represented in Figure A.22. The difference between El Pueblito and all other sites
combined with respect to proportions of flakes, debris, and cores is statistically
significant (χ2 = 1694.67, p < 0.0001, df = 2; Cramer’s V = 0.2909).
Table A.28. Proportions of excavated chipped stone from El Pueblito and four other Medio period sites (see
Figure A.22).
Flake
Settlement
n
El Pueblito
204
231
242
317
760
14116
1075
317
1276
Debris
Core
Total
%
n
%
n
%
n
57.3
90.3
93.7
89.6
81.9
534
920
55
33
261
40.3
5.9
4.8
9.3
16.7
32
603
17
4
22
2.4
3.9
1.5
1.1
1.4
1326
15639
1147
354
1559
%
100
100
100
100
100
100
Percent
80
60
40
20
0
Flake
El Pueblito
Debris
Site 204
Site 231
Core
Site 242
Site 317
Figure A.22. Proportional comparison of excavated chipped stone from El Pueblito and four other
Medio period settlements (see Table A.28).
255
Features 7 and 71 at El Pueblito were shown to skew the proportion of debris
from excavated contexts. Even if those features are removed from the data set, however,
El Pueblito still has an unusual amount of debris relative to the other sites and it is still
significantly different from those settlements (χ2 = 1113.83, p < 0.0001, df = 2; Cramer’s
V = 0.2372). The fact that flakes (83%) also predominate over debris (17%) at a large
Medio period settlement in the adjacent valley known as Galeana (VanPool et al. 2000) is
further evidence of El Pueblito’s unusual chipped stone profile. Presently I cannot
account for the abnormal abundance of debris from El Pueblito from a behavioral or
cultural standpoint. Collection strategies were equivalent among all excavations.
Moreover, each analyst was trained or advised by the same person using the same
categories and definitions. Nevertheless, inter-analyst differences may play some part in
the unusual assemblage from El Pueblito.
Formal tools from excavated contexts on El Pueblito are few, although of the 18
tools, 16 are tabular knives. Whalen and Minnis (2009:203) note, but do not provide
quantification, that tabular knives make up a large proportion of their tool assemblages.
All of these settlements are associated with slope fields where agave was likely produced
and processed. Finally, El Pueblito has a higher percentage (2%) of tools than the
smaller 231 (0.4%) and 317 (0.9%) settlements but a much lower percentage than the
administrative Site 242 (9%). Comparison of tools from the latter settlement’s
extramural stone arcs (3%) with El Pueblito’s extramural rock features (1.2%) shows a
difference of about 2 percent.
256
Comparison of Excavated Ground Stone from El Pueblito
The final artifact category for comparison is ground stone, of which the nine items
from the limited excavation on El Pueblito come from the rubble core masonry (n = 2)
and adobe (n = 7) architectures (Table A.29). The adobe architecture differs from the
masonry and other architectural types in producing a greater variety of ground stone
tools, although its larger excavated sample is probably an important factor in this result.
While the rubble core masonry contained one hammerstone and one stone dish, the adobe
architecture yielded one axe, one hammerstone, one maul, one metate, one mortar, and
two manos. The variety of ground stone tools from the adobe may indicate a greater
number or range of tasks or possibly storage of tools.
Table A.29. Counts of excavated ground stone items from El Pueblito.
Item
Axe
Dish
Hammerstone
Mano
Maul
Metate
Mortar
Total
Adobe
Rubble Core
1
0
1
2
1
1
1
7
0
1
1
0
0
0
0
2
Total
1
1
2
2
1
1
1
9
Inter-settlement Comparison of Ground Stone
To compare ground stone assemblages from El Pueblito and Sites 204, 231, 317,
and 242, it is necessary to include both excavated contexts and the surface collections
above them because those proveniences are merged in the data from the other settlements
(Whalen and Minnis 2009:205). That criterion limits comparison to only the adobe
257
mound and one rubble-core masonry room from El Pueblito, where from the former there
is one axe, one bowl, three manos, one maul, and six metates; from the latter there is one
bowl. Table A.30 lists counts and percentages of ground stone items from the five sites.
Only Site 204 produced the full-variety of items shown in Table A.30, but that site is the
most extensively excavated among the sample. Manos are the only items present at all
sites. Metates are of interest because Todd VanPool and Robert Leonard (2002) have
been discussed them in terms of specialization. Those researchers believe that squarecornered Type 1A metates from Paquimé are the product of specialized manufacture,
while other types are not. Whalen and Minnis show that 43 percent of their combined
sites sample is not of the specialized type, and that 19 percent is, all of which are from
Site 204. At El Pueblito, only one of the metates is unambiguously of the purported
specialized Type IA. El Pueblito lacks abrading stones, present at all other sites and has
an unusually high proportion of mauls and metates.
Table A.30. Proportions of ground stone items from El Pueblito and four other Medio period sites.
El Pueblito
Item
n
Abrading Stone
Axe
Bowl/Mortar
Mano
Mano Blank
Maul
Metate
Pestle
Stone Disk
Total
0
1
2
3
0
1
6
0
0
13
%
0.0
7.7
15.4
23.1
0.0
7.7
46.2
0.0
0.0
100.0
204
n
142
14
22
204
22
13
73
24
0
536
231
%
26.5
2.6
4.1
38.1
4.1
2.4
13.6
4.5
4.1
100.0
n
3
2
0
10
0
0
1
1
0
17
242
%
17.6
11.8
0.0
58.8
0.0
0.0
5.9
5.9
0.0
100.0
n
2
0
2
22
0
0
1
1
0
28
317
%
7.1
0.0
7.1
78.6
0.0
0.0
3.6
3.6
0.0
100.0
n
%
3 15.8
1
5.3
1
5.3
12 63.2
0
0.0
0
0.0
1
5.3
1
5.3
0
0.0
19 100.0
258
APPENDIX B – NON-WOOD PLANT REMAINS FROM
EL PUEBLITO EXCAVATIONS
Under the direction of Dr. Paul E. Minnis, Mike McKay identified plant remains
other than wood from flotation samples at the University of Oklahoma (see Chapter 6 for
discussion of wood remains). All samples were sorted under a 10-45X binocular
microscope, and comparative collections, keys, and manuals were utilized for taxonomic
identification. A total of 1773 identifications were made, but only 88 instances (5%)
were charred, the most reliable indication of an origin during the prehispanic occupation.
Those taxa are shown in Table B.1 as ubiquity values (percentage of all productive
flotation samples in which the taxon appears) and counts of items by feature and contents
of one ceramic vessel. Both cultivated and wild plants are represented. The most
common charred plant is maize (Zea mays) identified in 53.8 percent of samples followed
by purslane (Portulaca) in 30.7 percent. Maize remains consist only of cupules; no
kernels were found. Other plant remains represented in the assemblage are Agavaceae
(Agave family; end spine), Amaranthus sp. (amaranth), Calandrinia sp. (redmaid),
Chenopodium sp. (chenopod), Gramineae (grass), and Opuntia sp. (prickly pear or
cholla). No charred seeds were recovered from the adobe architecture. Ninety percent of
the purslane came from Feature 35, the round rubble core masonry structure. A Casas
Grandes Plainware jar was found in this same room and flotation samples from the vessel
produced only one charred grass seed. The majority of maize was found in Features 39
(63%) and 28 (19%), both rubble core masonry rooms.
259
Table B.1. Ubiquity and number of identified charred plant remains from El Pueblito flotation samples.
Feature
Taxaa
Agavaceae
Amaranthus sp.
Calandrinia sp.
Chenopodium sp.
Gramineae
Opuntia sp.
Portulaca sp.
Zea mays
7
15
24
28
35
39
56
71
118 (hearth
in Feature 36)
Vessel Fillc
Ubiquity(%)b
7.6
7.6
23.0
23.0
7.6
15.4
30.7
53.8
1
2
2
5
1
1
3
3
1
1
1
2
1
36
2
5
1
1
17
1
1
Note: Identifications made by Mike McKay.
a. Agavaceae (end spine), Amaranthus sp. (amaranth), Calandrinia sp. (redmaid), Chenopodium sp. (chenopod), Gramineae (grass), Opuntia sp.
(prickly pear or cholla), Portulaca sp. (purslane), Zea mays (maize cupules)
b. Ubiquity is the percentage of seed-bearing samples that contain a taxon.
c. See Appendix I for vessel information.
260
APPENDIX C – CERAMIC DATA FROM CERRO DE MOCTEZUMA’S
TRAILS AND WAYSIDE FEATURES
261
Table C.1. Ceramic types and counts from the surface of trails wayside features at Cerro de Moctezuma.
Feature Number/Ceramic Type
TRAIL
106
107
110
111
112
113
114
116
117
WAYSIDE FEATURE
93
101f
121f
Plainware
Scoreda
Corrugatedb
Incisedc
Tool Punched
Broad Coil
22
4
4
9
1
2
2
3
Note: One historic glaze ware sherd of unknown type was found at the entrance to the tunnel below the atalaya. It is not tabulated.
a. Includes rubbed, pattern. b. Includes pattern incised, rubbed, indented. c. Includes pattern. d. Includes corrugated, incised, punched, scored. e. Ramos
Polychrome paste without paint, f. artifacts not collected.
262
Table C.1. Ceramic types and counts from the surface of trails and one wayside feature at Cerro de Moctezuma by provenience (continued).
Provenience/Ceramic Type
TRAIL
106
107
110
111
112
113
114
116
117
Playas Redd
Ramos Black
Black-on-red
Babicora
Polychrome
Carretas
Polychrome
Corralitos
Polychrome
15
4
WAYSIDE FEATURE
93
101f
101f
Note: One historic glaze ware sherd of unknown type was found at the entrance to the tunnel below the atalaya. It is not tabulated.
a. Includes rubbed, pattern. b. Includes pattern incised, rubbed, indented. c. Includes pattern. d. Includes corrugated, incised, punched, scored. e. Ramos
Polychrome paste without paint, f. artifacts not collected.
263
Table C.1. Ceramic types and counts from the surface of trails and one wayside feature at Cerro de Moctezuma by provenience (continued).
Provenience/Ceramic Type
TRAIL
106
107
110
111
112
113
114
116
117
WAYSIDE FEATURE
93
101f
101f
Huerigos
Polychrome
Ramos
Polychrome
Villa Ahumada Babicora/Ramos
Polychrome
Polychrome
White paste
Babicora
White pastee
1
3
1
50
3
2
2
Note: One historic glaze ware sherd of unknown type was found at the entrance to the tunnel below the atalaya. It is not tabulated.
a. Includes rubbed, pattern. b. Includes pattern incised, rubbed, indented. c. Includes pattern. d. Includes corrugated, incised, punched, scored. e. Ramos
Polychrome paste without paint, f. artifacts not collected.
264
Table C.1. Ceramic types and counts from the surface of trails and one wayside feature at Cerro de Moctezuma by provenience (continued).
Provenience/Ceramic Type
TRAIL
106
107
110
111
112
113
114
116
117
WAYSIDE FEATURE
93
101f
101f
Chupadero
Black-on-white
El Paso
Polychrome
Red-on-brown
Indeterminate
Small
23
1
9
1
1
1
1
1
Note: One historic glaze ware sherd of unknown type was found at the entrance to the tunnel below the atalaya. It is not tabulated.
a. Includes rubbed, pattern. b. Includes pattern incised, rubbed, indented. c. Includes pattern. d. Includes corrugated, incised, punched, scored. e. Ramos
Polychrome paste without paint, f. artifacts not collected.
265
APPENDIX D – CERAMIC DATA FROM EL PUEBLITO AND THE ATALAYA
266
Table D.1. Surface and excavated ceramic types and counts from El Pueblito and the atalaya.
Provenience/Type
SURFACE
General El Pueblito
Collection Unit 63
Collection Unit 65
Collection Unit 71
Patio (Feature 27)
North Masonry Plaza
South Masonry Plaza
Adobe Plaza
Adobe Mound
Rock-in-adobe
Rubble Core Masonry
Rock Features
Atalaya
EXCAVATED
Adobe Room (Feature 1)
Rock Feature (Feature 7)
Rubble Core Masonry (Feature 15)
Rock Feature (Feature 19)
Rubble Core Masonry (Feature 21)
Rock Feature (Feature 24)
Rubble Core Masonry (Feature 28)
Rubble Core Masonry (Feature 35)
Rubble Core Masonry (Feature 36)
Rubble Core Masonry (Feature 39)
Rock Feature (Feature 49)
Rock-in-adobe (Feature 56)
Rock Feature (Feature 71)
Plainware
Scoreda
349
18
39
3
6
18
13
13
160
10
74
45
5
22
2
2069
45
62
26
21
36
223
87
29
4
10
23
195
Corrugatedb
Incisedc
Tool Punched
Broad Coil
2
1
1
1
2
3
4
1
2
1
1
58
5
4
1
4
1
18
1
4
4
4
3
1
1
2
18
6
1
7
7
1
1
1
1
1
1
2
a. Includes rubbed, pattern. b. Includes pattern incised, rubbed, indented. c. Includes pattern. d. Includes corrugated, incised, punched, scored. e. Ramos
Polychrome paste without paint.
267
Table D.1. Surface and excavated ceramic types and counts from El Pueblito and the atalaya (continued).
Provenience/Type
SURFACE
General El Pueblito
Collection Unit 63
Collection Unit 65
Collection Unit 71
Patio (Feature 27)
North Masonry Plaza
South Masonry Plaza
Adobe Plaza
Adobe Mound
Rock-in-adobe
Rubble Core Masonry
Rock Features
Atalaya
EXCAVATED
Adobe Room (Feature 1)
Rock Feature (Feature 7)
Rubble Core Masonry (Feature 15)
Rock Feature (Feature 19)
Rubble Core Masonry (Feature 21)
Rock Feature (Feature 24)
Rubble Core Masonry (Feature 28)
Rubble Core Masonry (Feature 35)
Rubble Core Masonry (Feature 36)
Rubble Core Masonry (Feature 39)
Rock Feature (Feature 49)
Rock-in-adobe (Feature 56)
Rock Feature (Feature 71)
Playas Redd
Ramos Black
43
2
Black-on-red
1
1
Babicora
Polychrome
4
Carretas
Polychrome
Corralitos
Polychrome
4
1
2
1
3
19
1
8
9
169
5
2
19
2
1
2
3
3
4
4
3
1
1
1
1
5
11
2
5
5
1
1
2
18
3
1
2
2
1
4
a. Includes rubbed, pattern. b. Includes pattern incised, rubbed, indented. c. Includes pattern. d. Includes corrugated, incised, punched, scored. e. Ramos
Polychrome paste without paint.
268
Table D.1. Surface and excavated ceramic types and counts from El Pueblito and the atalaya (continued).
Provenience/Type
SURFACE
General El Pueblito
Collection Unit 63
Collection Unit 65
Collection Unit 71
Patio (Feature 27)
North Masonry Plaza
South Masonry Plaza
Adobe Plaza
Adobe Mound
Rock-in-adobe
Rubble Core Masonry
Rock Features
Atalaya
EXCAVATED
Adobe Room (Feature 1)
Rock Feature (Feature 7)
Rubble Core Masonry (Feature 15)
Rock Feature (Feature 19)
Rubble Core Masonry (Feature 21)
Rock Feature (Feature 24)
Rubble Core Masonry (Feature 28)
Rubble Core Masonry (Feature 35)
Rubble Core Masonry (Feature 36)
Rubble Core Masonry (Feature 39)
Rock Feature (Feature 49)
Rock-in-adobe (Feature 56)
Rock Feature (Feature 71)
Huerigos
Polychrome
Ramos
Polychrome
19
Villa Ahumada Babicora/Ramos
Polychrome
Polychrome
4
White paste
Babicora
8
1
1
1
3
10
1
1
1
5
2
2
1
29
12
1
2
1
White pastee
1
3
2
2
2
1
1
2
3
1
1
1
2
2
3
12
a. Includes rubbed, pattern. b. Includes pattern incised, rubbed, indented. c. Includes pattern. d. Includes corrugated, incised, punched, scored. e. Ramos
Polychrome paste without paint.
269
Table D.1. Surface and excavated ceramic types and counts from El Pueblito and the atalaya (continued).
Provenience/Type
SURFACE
General El Pueblito
Collection Unit 63
Collection Unit 65
Collection Unit 71
Patio (Feature 27)
North Masonry Plaza
South Masonry Plaza
Adobe Plaza
Adobe Mound
Rock-in-adobe
Rubble Core Masonry
Rock Features
Atalaya
EXCAVATED
Adobe Room (Feature 1)
Rock Feature (Feature 7)
Rubble Core Masonry (Feature 15)
Rock Feature (Feature 19)
Rubble Core Masonry (Feature 21)
Rock Feature (Feature 24)
Rubble Core Masonry (Feature 28)
Rubble Core Masonry (Feature 35)
Rubble Core Masonry (Feature 36)
Rubble Core Masonry (Feature 39)
Rock Feature (Feature 49)
Rock-in-adobe (Feature 56)
Rock Feature (Feature 71)
Chupadero
Black-on-white
El Paso
Polychrome
Red-on-brown
2
1
1
1
Indeterminate
Small
1
1
3
1182
63
171
10
26
114
98
35
255
17
111
138
6
3
1
1415
43
44
29
26
65
268
56
9
7
19
20
339
1
1
6
1
3
a. Includes rubbed, pattern. b. Includes pattern incised, rubbed, indented. c. Includes pattern. d. Includes corrugated, incised, punched, scored. e. Ramos
Polychrome paste without paint.
270
APPENDIX E – CHIPPED STONE DATA FROM CERRO DE MOCTEZUMA’S
TRAILS AND WAYSIDE FEATURES
271
Table E.1. Chipped stone items and counts from the surface of trails and wayside features at Cerro de Moctezuma.
Provenience/Item
TRAIL
106
107
110
111
112
113
114
116
117
WAYSIDE FEATURE
93
101a
122a
126b
Primary
Flake
Secondary
Flake
Tertiary
Flake
2
1
3
Core
2
1
1
1
Broken
Flake
2
3
Core
Fragment
1
3
3
1
2
12
1
Debris
Tabular
Knife
1
4
2
2
2
2
2
1
a. Artifacts not collected.
b. Hundreds of pieces of chipped stone were associated with Wayside Feature 126 but were not collected or discretely analyzed. Field observations
indicate that the assemblage consists of mostly chert but also rhyolite flakes in all stages of reduction, retouched flakes, and about 25 cores.
272
APPENDIX F – CHIPPED STONE DATA FROM
EL PUEBLITO AND THE ATALAY
273
Table F.1. Surface and excavated chipped stone items and counts from El Pueblito and the atalaya.
Provenience/Item
SURFACE
General El Pueblito
Collection Unit 63
Collection Unit 65
Collection Unit 71
Patio (Feature 27)
North Masonry Plaza
South Masonry Plaza
Adobe Plaza
Adobe Mound
Rock-in-adobe
Rubble Core Masonry
Rock Features
Atalaya
EXCAVATED
Adobe Room (Feature 1)
Rock Feature (Feature 7)
Rubble Core Masonry (Feature 15)
Rock Feature (Feature 19)
Rubble Core Masonry (Feature 21)
Rock Feature (Feature 24)
Rubble Core Masonry (Feature 28)
Rubble Core Masonry (Feature 35)
Rubble Core Masonry (Feature 36)
Rubble Core Masonry (Feature 39)
Rock Feature (Feature 49)
Rock-in-adobe (Feature 56)
Rock Feature (Feature 71)
a. Archaic types San Jose and Palmillas.
Primary
Flake
Secondary
Flake
Tertiary
Flake
9
3
1
3
4
3
1
25
3
2
4
80
6
8
7
6
32
6
3
23
2
5
21
207
16
12
13
3
77
43
13
46
7
26
68
2
65
2
51
5
5
11
16
5
2
179
10
105
1
2
34
54
14
5
3
29
17
34
4
1
2
3
7
5
1
7
1
6
14
16
1
5
28
1
17
5
6
9
9
2
1
1
2
2
6
Broken
Flake
Core
Core
Fragment
Debris
6
14
273
9
23
16
1
1
2
1
1
1
1
1
4
1
3
1
1
4
4
11
1
1
1
1
2
1
1
70
20
21
43
5
24
79
5
1
1
146
22
89
4
22
29
70
12
3
1
3
13
123
2
2
274
Table F.1. Surface and excavated chipped stone items and counts from El Pueblito and the atalaya (continued).
Provenience/Item
Projectile
Point
SURFACE
General El Pueblito
Collection Unit 63
Collection Unit 65
Collection Unit 71
Patio (Feature 27)
North Masonry Plaza
South Masonry Plaza
Adobe Plaza
Adobe Mound
Rock-in-adobe
Rubble Core Masonry
Rock Features
Atalaya
EXCAVATED
Adobe Room (Feature 1)
Rock Feature (Feature 7)
Rubble Core Masonry (Feature 15)
Rock Feature (Feature 19)
Rubble Core Masonry (Feature 21)
Rock Feature (Feature 24)
Rubble Core Masonry (Feature 28)
Rubble Core Masonry (Feature 35)
Rubble Core Masonry (Feature 36)
Rubble Core Masonry (Feature 39)
Rock Feature (Feature 49)
Rock-in-adobe (Feature 56)
Rock Feature (Feature 71)
a. Archaic types San Jose and Palmillas.
Tabular
Knife
Biface
Fragment
Scraper
9
2
4
1
3
1
1
1
2
2
2a
1
9
3
4
1
275
APPENDIX G – GROUND STONE DATA FROM CERRO DE MOCTEZUMA’S
TRAILS AND WAYSIDE FEATURES
There was one mortar from Trail 112, one mano from Trail 114, and a possible
mano from Wayside Feature 121.
276
APPENDIX H – GROUND STONE DATA FROM
EL PUEBLITO AND THE ATALAY
277
Table H.1. Surface and excavated ground stone items and counts from El Pueblito and the atalaya.
Provenience/Item
SURFACE
General El Pueblito
Collection Unit 63
Collection Unit 65
Collection Unit 71
Patio
North Masonry Plaza
South Masonry Plaza
Adobe Plaza
Adobe Mound
Rock-in-adobe
Rubble Core Masonry
Rock Features
Atalaya
EXCAVATED
Adobe Room (Feature 1)
Rock Feature (Feature 7)
Rubble Core Masonry (Feature 15)
Rock Feature (Feature 19)
Rubble Core Masonry (Feature 21)
Rock Feature (Feature 24)
Rubble Core Masonry (Feature 28)
Rubble Core Masonry (Feature 35)
Rubble Core Masonry (Feature 36)
Rubble Core Masonry (Feature 39)
Rock Feature (Feature 49)
Rock-in-adobe (Feature 56)
Rock Feature (Feature 71)
Axe
Bead
Bowl/Dish
Hammerstone
Mano
5
1
1
2
11
Mano Blank
3
Maul
8
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
2
1
278
Table H.1. Surface and excavated ground stone items and counts from El Pueblito and the atalaya (continued).
Provenience/Item
SURFACE
General El Pueblito
Collection Unit 63
Collection Unit 65
Collection Unit 71
Patio
North Masonry Plaza
South Masonry Plaza
Adobe Plaza
Adobe Mound
Rock-in-adobe
Rubble Core Masonry
Rock Features
Atalaya
EXCAVATED
Adobe Room (Feature 1)
Rock Feature (Feature 7)
Rubble Core Masonry (Feature 15)
Rock Feature (Feature 19)
Rubble Core Masonry (Feature 21)
Rock Feature (Feature 24)
Rubble Core Masonry (Feature 28)
Rubble Core Masonry (Feature 35)
Rubble Core Masonry (Feature 36)
Rubble Core Masonry (Feature 39)
Rock Feature (Feature 49)
Rock-in-adobe (Feature 56)
Rock Feature (Feature 71)
Metate
Mortar
Nesting Box
Entrance
Pecking
Hammer
1
Pestle
Polishing
Stone
1
1
1
5
1
1
1
1
1
Shaft
Straightener
279
APPENDIX I – A CASAS GRANDES PLAINWARE BOWL FROM EL PUEBLITO
A Casas Grandes Plainware bowl, resembling what Di Peso at al. (1974:6:165)
called a cajete-like bowl, was found in a rubble core masonry room, Feature 35, about 3
cm above the room floor (Figure I.1). The bowl was sitting upright. Upper and lower
vessel fill were collected as flotation samples, which yielded one charred grass
(Gramineae) seed. Height: 13 cm, rim diameter 16 cm, body diameter 21cm.
Figure I.1. A Casas Grandes Plainware bowl from El Pueblito.
280
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