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La Villa Fast Facts

        La Villa was undoubtedly one of the earliest occupied Hohokam villages on the Lower Salt River Valley.  Very early settlement patterns indicate that the area was a farmstead; it grew to be a village in the mid to late phase.  Although the size of the population varied from time to time, overall it increased until the site was abandoned around AD 800-850.

        The features that have been discovered date from AD 350 to AD 850; therefore it is likely that occupation of La Villa also fell between those dates.

        The entire area northeast of the canal (the Pioneer & Military Memorial Park) was occupied by the Hohokam at one time or another.  At its height, the La Villa settlement may have extended north beyond Jefferson Street, east as far as 7th Avenue, southeast to 5th Avenue, south several blocks beyond Harrison, and west beyond 15th Avenue.

        The settlement at the cemetery site was called Casa Chica in an earlier archaeological study, but La Villa is now considered to be its proper name.  Other nearby Hohokam villages are known today as Pueblo Patricio (downtown Phoenix), La Ciudad (about two miles northeast), Las Colinas (about two miles northwest) and many others farther away.

        The location of La Villa, fully two miles north of the Salt River bed, demonstrates that inhabitants were well aware of the river’s potential for flooding and the extent of the flood plain.  The hardy Hohokam could easily have walked the two miles to the river for water whenever necessary.

        Hohokam life centered around the cultivation of beans, maize and possibly cotton.  Small-scale shell jewelry-making also took place.  Marine shells were acquired from the Gulf of California via trading routes, and freshwater mollusks from the Salt River and the canal provided a secondary source of food and shells.   

        Archaeological evidence shows that canal construction began as early as AD 450, with the canal supplying water for daily nees and the irrigation of fields.  The most likely course of the La Villa canal on cemetery property is northwesterly from Tom Graham’s grave (Number 30 on the self-guided walking tour) to Captain John Wren Owens’ grave (Number 24).  Irrigation water may have been funneled west toward a small, Classic Period village now known as Casa Chica.

       Flooding and silting of the canal may have caused La Villa to be abandoned as a permanent village.  Subsequent occupation might have been limited to certain seasons of the year.  There is no evidence of significant occupation after AD 800, although the canal system may have continued to function on a more limited basis.

       In 2011, another dig under the direction of Michael Lindeman uncovered even more artifacts from La Villa’s pre-Columbian past.

This is a partial list of conclusions drawn from K. J. Schroeder’s 1990-1992 archaeological study of La Villa, as interpreted by Bob Cox, PCA secretary, with comments by K. J. on 27 April 2012.  Interested readers may purchase copies of K. J. Schroeder's two-volume project report entitled "Pioneer & Military Memorial Park Archaeological Project in Phoenix, Arizona, 1990-1992" from the PCA.  Supplies are limited.        

© Copyright 2004-2012, Pioneers' Cemetery Association, Inc. All rights reserved. Last revised 9 May 2012.


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