Message #252:
From: AzTeC SW Archaeology SIG
To:   "'Matthias Giessler'" 
Subject: Polvoron Phase Trade Or Exchange Networks
Date: Mon, 14 Jul 1997 20:29:16 -0700

From: John A. Giacobbe 

My firm is involved in the synthesis of an excavation of a Polvoron Phase
site in central Arizona.  This investigation involves a late Classic period
(circa A.D. 1325-1450) Hohokam pithouse with multiple associated features.

The site appears to have been the locus of a wide range of activities.  The
lithic assemblage, which includes a high frequency of projectile points and
bifaces, indicates a high degree of manufacturing diversity.  The core and
debitage analysis also suggest that the manufacture of formal tools was an
important activity, and may have included tool manufacture of items
intended for trade with groups both in the core area and to the north and

In addition, the prevalence of handstones and basin metates suggest that
cultigen processing was not a common activity. These tool types suggest a
focus on wild or encouraged foods of smaller grain size. In addition, the
presence of unused tool blanks and debitage of coarse vesicular textures
may be an indication that ground stone tools were being manufactured for
trade or use elsewhere.

Generally, Polvoron assemblages indicate there were changes in raw
material procurement strategies as compared to earlier periods (Peterson
1994; Sires 1984; Spurr and Greenwald 1994). In addition, there appears to
be a pattern of higher amounts of high-quality materials, such as obsidian,
on Polvoron phase sites (Peterson 1994; Rubenstein and Doyel 1995).

In contrast, the ceramic assemblage is relatively homogeneous, and
generally composed of either plain or red wares, with no apparent
relationship to feature type. Both red wares and plain wares are
characterized by a fine sand temper, and likely produced through local
manufacture.  Hence, no evidence of trade or exchange networks is suggested
by this assemblage.

Pollen and macrobotanical evidence suggest that a variety of native
resources were available and utilized, but not necessarily intensely
exploited. In addition, limited evidence of corn and lack of other cultigen
remains suggests crops were grown, but were not an important aspect of

We have had some difficulty explaining the mechanisms that may have been
responsible for these patterns. A common explanation includes the breakdown
of Hohokam trade networks in the late Classic period, and the creation of
new trade alliances outside the earlier Hohokam sphere of influence that
may have been a factor in activity and subsistence patterns.

We suspect that an additional factor, if not a primary one, may have
involved shifting macro- and micro-environmental conditions, and the
subsequent alterations of subsistence patterns and occupation loci
decisions that would follow.

Information from this occupation phase is few and far between, and we are
looking for others who have worked at similar sites of the late Classic
Hohokam.  If anyone out there has some experience with this phase, please
contact me at either one of the addresses below.

Thanks for your time,

John A. Giacobbe
Stantech Consultants, Inc.
Phoenix, Arizona