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Paquimé Archaeological Site (Casas Grandes)

Casas Grandes adobe archeological site

 

 

Location: Chihuahua  Map

Open: daily

 

 

 

Description of Paquime or Casas Grandes Archaeological Site

Paquime or Casas Grandes is an ancient archaeological site in the state of Chihuahua in Mexico constructed before the arrival of Columbus. It is added to the UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its historic and architectural importance. This is the largest adobe pueblo site in the region containing over 2000 rooms in total. Casas Grandes reached its political and economic peak between 1150 and 1450 AD with population reaching as many as 2500 people. Paquime or Casas Grandes Archaeological Site is designated as an UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its historic and architectural importance. This is the largest adobe pueblo site in the region containing over 2000 rooms in total. Casas Grandes reached its political and economic peak between 1150 and 1450 AD with population reaching as many as 2500 people.

 

 

Between CE 1130 and 1300, the area's inhabitants began to congregate in small settlements in this wide fertile valley. The largest identified settlement is known today as Paquimé or Casas Grandes. It began as a group of 20 or more house clusters, each with a plaza and enclosing wall. These single-story adobe dwellings shared a common water system. Evidence shows that Paquimé had a complex water control system that included underground drain systems, reservoirs, channels for water to get to the homes, and a sewage system.

After being burned about 1340, Casas Grandes was rebuilt with multi-story apartment buildings to replace the small buildings. Casas Grandes consisted of about 2,000 adjoining rooms built of adobe, I-shaped Mesoamerican ballcourts, stone-faced platforms, effigy mounds, and a market area. About 350 other, smaller settlement sites have been found in the Casas Grandes area, some as far as 70 kilometers (39 miles) away. Archaeologists believe that the area directly controlled by Casas Grandes was relatively small, extending out about 30 kilometres (19 mi) from the city. The population may have been about 2,500 in Casas Grandes with perhaps 10,000 people living within its area of control.

Specialized craft activities included the production of copper bells and ornaments, extensive pottery, and beads from marine molluscs. These crafts were probably distributed by an extensive trading network. Casas Grandes pottery has a white or reddish surface, with ornamentation in blue, red, brown, or black. It is sometimes considered to be of better manufacture than the modern pottery in the area. Effigy bowls and vessels were often formed in the shape of a painted human figure. Casas Grandes pottery was traded among prehistoric peoples as far north as present-day New Mexico and Arizona and throughout northern Mexico.

The archaeologist Stephen Lekson has noted that Paquimé is aligned on roughly the same longitudinal axis as Chaco Canyon and Aztec Ruins, with an error of only a few miles. Chaco reached its cultural peak first, then Aztec and Paquimé. The similarities among these sites may indicate that their ruling elites also had a ceremonial connection. Lekson proposed that ruling elites, once removed from their prior positions at Chaco, re-established their hegemony over the area at Aztec and later Paquime. This idea, though, remains controversial and is not as widely accepted as often reported (cf. Lekson 2009). It has been proposed, and more widely accepted, that the origins of Paquime can be found in its connection with the Mogollon culture.

 

 

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