The Hohokam, the ancestors of the Akimel O'odham (Pima), constructed the Mesa Grande temple mound beginning in AD 1100 and continuing to at least AD 1400. With walls made from "caliche," the calcium carbonate hardpan that forms under our desert soils, the mound is longer and wider than a modern football field and is 27 feet high. A large adobe wall encloses the mound and a large plaza in front of the mound. One of two Hohokam "great mounds" in the Salt River Valley, the Mesa Grande mound was a dramatic symbol of the power of this ancient community. The village surrounding the mound once covered over one-half square mile and was home to perhaps two thousand Hohokam. Situated near the headgates of one of the two largest networks of irrigation canals created in the prehistoric New World, the site of Mesa Grande controlled over 27,000 acres of highly productive farmland.
Self-guided tours of the Hohokam mound are available Thursday through Sunday. The trail includes information kiosks throughout on the building of the mound, Hohokam way of life including tool use, and how the Hohokam gathered wild desert foods as well as transformed it into an agricultural landscape through their skilled engineering of the canal system. Guided tours led by archaeologists may be arranged for groups of ten or more people prior to your visit. School and Scout groups are welcome for field trips and their programs include lessons in archaeological excavation, mapping and measurement, as well as screening for artifacts and hands on lessons in Hohokam tool use and food gathering techniques.
Contact: Dr. Emily Goble Early
Address: 1000 N. Date Street, Mesa, AZ 85201
E-mail: [email protected]