Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Challenge

The last words I heard as I left Andy’s office were, “Find a ballcourt!”

Ballcourts have been found on large pre-classic sites but they are not common. The Hohokam had ballcourts from about 750 -1000 AD. It is thought to be a Meso-American influence – some 1500 miles away - according to Haury in his writings on Excavations at Snaketown.

No one really knows why but the ballcourt system was abandoned. Then, Hohokam built large-scale platform mounds, either used for ceremonial rites or at times living structures. A full cultural shift at about 1000 AD is clearly in evidence.

Andy is leading an office crew for another County’s Resource Planning.

I am leading a field crew that is four strong; each of us has about 25 years field experience; we love a challenge and now we have one! Find a ballcourt!

Mainly though, our challenge on this survey project has been re-locating the sites!

The sites were discovered in the forties to mid eighties and map plotting was not the best. They were using 15’ topographical maps so the change over of re-plotting to 7.5’ topographical maps has caused some problems! And now the maps are changing from NAD (North American Datum) 27 to 83. And GPS (Global Positioning System) units were not existence at that time either! Yikes! What a confusing mess!

We re-located and surveyed a large Hohokam habitation site dated to the pre-classic time frame about 800-1000 AD give or take a few years depending on whose chart/writings are being used!

Sherds were everywhere along with ground stone and lithics. Very large trash mounds were also evident along with general large scale pot hunting activities. Pit house depressions were noted.

I had told the crew about Andy’s parting and challenging words to me, “Find a ballcourt!”

We found several large depressions and did our usual measurements and GPS’d the exact location for the site card.

As we were leaving the site we heard Ken F. in a soft voice call out, “Hey, come see this!”

We converged on the voice and WOW!

A ballcourt! We are sure it is a ballcourt.

It measured the same as the small ballcourt at Snaketown (court-2 Santa Cruz phase); has nice berms, the orientation is North – South not just a willy-nilly orientation as cattle tanks or water catchments usually have.

Following the measuring, GPS-ing and mapping we had a chatty, congratulatory lunch Bermside of a Hohokam ballcourt! (Listened to the roar of the crowds?)

The challenge thrown. The challenge met!

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