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New research will unravel Arizona's prehistoric puzzle of the Hohokam ceramic industry
Date:7/20/2010

Can a manufacturing industry purr along without a class system of managers and workers? That's part of a longtime mystery that may soon be solved: How did a prehistoric, egalitarian people called the Hohokam produce large quantities of decorated ceramic vessels without a "manager" hierarchy?

Archaeologists from Southern Methodist University in Dallas and the Cultural Resource Management Program of the Gila River Indian Community in Arizona have launched a unique research partnership to decipher the mechanics of the large-scale industry.

The vessels were made in about 1000 A.D. by a culture archaeologists call the Hohokam. The ancient people used the pottery for daily serving, storage, and social and religious gatherings. Today's Gila River Indian Community residents, the O'odham, are descendants of the Hohokam.

The National Science Foundation is funding the research with a $134,636 grant.

Unprecedented partnership

Under the landmark research partnership, the tribe and SMU hope to better understand the Hohokam ceramic technology and manufacturing techniques.

The three-year project examines artifacts and ceramic production materials from 12 sites in the Sonoran Desert just south of what is now Phoenix, according to archaeologists and co-investigators Sunday Eiselt and J. Andrew Darling.

Eiselt is director of the SMU-in-Taos Archaeological Field School and an SMU assistant professor of anthropology. Darling is director of the O'odham tribe's Cultural Resource Management Program.

The analysis looks at a slice of time from 1000 A.D. to 1070 A.D. when production of the decorated ceramic pots, known as "red-on-buff," was at its peak, said Eiselt and Darling. For links to more information see www.smuresearch.com.

Ritually regulated or a managerial elite?

The researchers will probe how a prehistoric society that was fairly egalit
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Contact: Margaret Allen
mallen@smu.edu
214-768-7664
Southern Methodist University
Source:Eurekalert

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