Pueblo Grande Museum Archaeological Park
Pueblo Grande Museum is located on a 1,500-year-old archaeological site left by the Hohokam culture located just minutes from downtown Phoenix next to Sky Harbor International Airport. This National Historic Landmark and Phoenix Point of Pride has been a part of the City of Phoenix Parks and Recreation Department since 1929, and is the largest preserved archaeological site within Phoenix. Easily accessible by the Sky Train and the Light Rail, the museum is open 7 days a week October through April, and closed Sundays and Mondays, May through September.
Backstory and Context
The Hohokam ruins located on the north side of the Salt River and two miles west of the Papago Buttes were given the name Pueblo Grande, Spanish for Large Town, by Omar Turney in the 1920s. He named Pueblo Grande after its most prominent feature, a platform mound, one of the largest of over forty such structures built by the Hohokam in the Salt River Valley.
Pueblo Grande Museum and Archaeological Park, a section of the City of Phoenix Parks and Recreation Department, Natural Resources Division, was donated to the city in 1924 and a museum was opened on the site in 1929. At that same time, a Museum Director/City Archaeologist was hired, the first City Archaeologist in the nation. The original museum building was completed in 1935 using adobe blocks manufactured on site and scavenged supplies. Over the years, the museum underwent several additions, adding collections storage, a meeting facility, long term exhibits and much more. The museum has been in continuous operation for over 80 years.
A visit today consists of a two-thirds of a mile interpretive trail which travels around the remains of the prehistoric Hohokam people’s ballcourt and platform mound. The trail also features a variety of native plants, walk-in replicated dwellings and an interpretive agricultural garden featuring cotton, corn, beans, squash and amaranth. Inside, view an award-winning introductory video on the Hohokam people and the Pueblo Grande village site. Visit three galleries which explore the Hohokam people and their relationship with the environment, a hands-on gallery that explains the process of archaeology, and the changing exhibit gallery, which features rotating exhibits on a wide-variety of fascinating topics.
Some History of the Site:
Pueblo Grande appears to have been settled sometime before A.D. 500, perhaps related to an early canal system, which the Hohokam built at the southern edge of the site in the area now, called "Park of Four Waters." By about A.D. 750, Pueblo Grande had grown into a sizable village containing domestic pithouses, cemeteries, trash mounds (middens), and possibly a ball court. The Pueblo Grande canal system had been expanded considerably by this time, and irrigated approximately 20,000 acres of farmland.
The population of Pueblo Grande probably reached its peak in the Classic Period, with as many as 1000 people living in the village. At its largest extent it is estimated that the size of the village was approximately 500 acres or one mile in diameter. Studies of burials excavated from the site indicate that the population was suffering from malnutrition, despite their utilization of all available resources, including the intensive harvesting of fish from the Salt River and local irrigation canals.
Large floods recorded for the Salt River in A.D. 1358 and 1380-1382 probably contributed to the collapse and/or restructuring of Hohokam society at Pueblo Grande and elsewhere during the 1400's. Around A.D. 1450 the Hohokam abandoned Pueblo Grande as well as other villages in the Salt River Valley. For reasons still under investigation, more than 1000 years of occupation at Pueblo Grande came to an end.
2. "Pueblo Grande Museum Auxiliary," official website, accessed August 28, 2016. http://www.pueblogrande.org