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Matt Pailes – “Cerros de Trincheras in the Hohokam World: A Case Study of the Cerro Prieto Site”

Note: This post refers to an event that took place on Oct 18, 2010.

Matt Pailes at Cerro Prieto

In the Tucson Basin the Hohokam early Classic period (ca. AD 1150) is characterized by large-scale population movements and the appearance of specialized site types including platform mound settlements and cerros de trincheras. Platform mounds are common throughout the Hohokam region during the Classic period. Cerros de trincheras are large villages constructed on low volcanic hills that appear periodically throughout the Greater Southwest from the Late Archaic to Protohistoric. In the Hohokam region cerros de trincheras are present only in the Tucson Basin and the Papagueria. This talk, will present interpretations resulting from recent survey work at the cerros de trincheras site of Cerro Prieto. Sites such as Cerro Prieto likely represent the importation of a hill-top centered ideology from northern Mexico. Sites like Cerro Prieto provided an alternative to the predominantly platform mound centered ideology of the early Classic period. Architectural patterns at Cerro Prieto suggest a relatively egalitarian social structure. Most differences between Cerro Prieto residents are likely attributable to variable success in agriculture pursuits. A group of ritual specialists is also inferred from architecture on the summit and from habitation areas. In contrast to both cerros de trincheras of northern Mexico and platform mound settlements this group included a sizable portion of the population. There is no evidence for a singular leader or paramount household at Cerro Prieto. A lack of centralized control and leadership may partly explain why cerros de trincheras did not endure in the Hohokam region while platform mound settlements became the standard for large sites of the late Classic.