on January 1, 2013
Around the same time the Great Wall of China was being built and Cleopatra was the Queen of Egypt, the Hohokam Indians were building small villages with pit houses and storage pits. Their culture improved it's agriculture methods and established lodges and plazas between 300-775 A.D. They produced figurines from clay and decorated pottery and it marked a time when they started construction of a canal system. The massive canal system diverted water from the Gila & Salt Rivers to the villages and during low moisture months, the Hohokam tapped ground water and diverted storm runoff. They expanded their trade system and canals and flourished through 975 AD. The architecture of their buildings became more developed with the appearance of platform mounds and ball courts. For over a thousand years, these Ancestral People supported themselves by hunting and gathering. The rivers and their irrigation canal systems were their life line in a land that was arid. The Hohokam grew crops that did well in desert conditions, including corn, beans and squash. They collected native plants which they used for food, medicine and materials which helped sustain their life. Casa Grande (the Great House) was built from material called caliche, a concrete like mix of sand, clay and limestone. The walls of The Great House were layered and formed a four foot wide base. The Hohokam carried hundreds of juniper and pine trees for 60 miles to be used in the ceiling and as floor supports. The walls face the four points of the compass and a circular hole in the west wall aligns with the setting sun at the summer solstice. Other openings correspond with the sun and the moon at specific times. Casa Grande is four stories high and is the largest structure of its kind built by the Ancestral People in the Sonoran Desert. Between 1300 AD and 1400 AD their communities expanded along with their canal irrigation systems. Great Houses and structures on top of platforms were built. They lived and they flourished until about 1500 when they abandoned their large communities and returned to small villages. The park is an hour south of Phoenix and an hour north of Tucson. Take I-10 to Coolidge exits and follow signs to the park just off AZ 87/287.Casa Grande Ruins are open everyday of the year except Thanksgiving and Christmas. Admission is $5.00 for adults. Children 15 years old and younger are free.The visitor center has a museum which displays artifacts from the Hohokam village and interpretive signs along the trails explain the flora, fauna and life of the Hohokam. There are also guided tours every hour on the hour and a movie in the visitor center explaining the site. There is a picnic area outside of the museum but be aware of wild animals and snakes, especially during the summer.
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