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Emil W. Haury once wrote, “One of the neighboring areas where the contact with the Gila-Salt (drainages about Phoenix) was maintained on an intimate basis was in the Santa Cruz drainage about Tucson. During the Pioneer Period here the complexion of the culture seems to have been almost entirely Hohokam, and through succeeding periods, although the phases can be correlated with those of the Gila-Salt area, there was a gradual drawing away from the more purely Hohokam.......” (Haury 1945;63).

By studying the ceramics throughout the time periods from both areas, one may conclude that just the opposite may be true. Based on Haury’s descriptions of pottery types found at Snaketown, it is interesting that the earliest decorated pottery types from the Phoenix area started out as tool polished Brownware and gradually changed to “hand-smoothed” Buffware. (Haury 1976;202-225) While in the Tucson area the tool polished Brownware was the main decorated type throughout the entire existence of the Hohokam, beginning in the Pioneer Period and continuing through and possibly beyond the Classic Period into historic times. Indeed it was the Phoenix potters that gradually strayed away from the traditional "Hohokam way" of preparing ceramics for painting. The "Hohokam way" of preparing ceramics for painting is essentially the same as other cultures in the southwest. Most other painted types are scraped and tool polished after building the vessel with coils of moist clay. The Hohokam may have been the first to use the paddle and anvil to thin and condense the coils instead of using a tool to scrape away the excess clay from the coils after they were pinched together. However, we are merely talking about local varieties. During the Colonial and Sedentary periods of Hohokam existence, the Gila Butte, Santa Cruz, and Sacaton Phase ceramics of the greater Phoenix area were "hand smoothed" when finished. Whereas, the Canada del Oro, Rillito, and Rincon Phase ceramics of the greater Tucson area were finished with tool polishing. Some Phoenix potters found different local clay deposits, or possibly added a substance to the clay that produced in weight lighter ceramics than those of the Tucson potters. These ceramics have numerous pores in the paste that can often be seen in the surfaces.

In essence, the Hohokam produced a Northern (Phoenix) Variety, and a Southern (Tucson) Variety of ceramics. In all but the Pioneer Period, Phoenix and Tucson types of ceramics are different and distinct technologically, however, they share identical forms and designs, indicating the same culture.



This page last revised: 05/04/2012

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