In a well-developed area of Mesa, Arizona, is a large archaeological site called Mesa Grande Ruin. It was a large mound constructed by the Classic Period Hohokam people. This is a view near the mound. See the tall palm trees growing behind the mound?
There are several other mound sites located around the Phoenix area. One is the Casa Grande Ruin and another is the Pueblo Grande Ruin.
One very neat thing about the Mesa Grande Platform Mound project is that it is largely excavated through the help of volunteers from the community. The organization called the Southwest Archaeology Team (SWAT) trains amateur archaeologists on the proper methods for excavation, and anyone can give archaeology a try under the direction of this program. Here you see Stanley helping out by laying the excavation string out so new excavation units can be started.
Here you can see of a few of the units excavated on the side of the mound. The straight walls are left as supports for the string lines. The walls being left in place are important for seeing the stratigraphic layers. These are the layers of soil and debris left through time. For more information on stratigraphy watch one of our ARI slide shows called Stratigraphy. To learn more about the kinds of tools used by archaeologists watch the slide show called The Archaeologist's Toolkit.
Look very closely at this photo. Can you see the square shape on the ground? That shape is all that is left of a Hohokam house that used to stand in this spot. The walls of the house were made from adobe, a plaster made of mud and sand.
Now look closely at this photo. How many artifacts can you find? This photo was taken while standing on the side of the platform mound. Ceramic and stone artifacts can be found all over this archaeological site just sitting on the surface.
It is important to leave artifacts where you find them instead of picking them up and taking them home. Can you think of a few reasons why it might be bad to just take the artifacts? There are some handouts in your package that might help.
Here is an artist's drawing of what a platform mound community looked like. There is a big wall around the village. The mound in the middle is where some people live. It is thought that those people that lived on or near the mound were very important and may have been religious or political leaders. All of the other people lived away from the mound in the surrounding areas tending to their fields.
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