Monday, January 25, 2016

Casa Grande Ruins highlight early people's achievements

Casa Grande ruins
Ancient civilizations may have been primitive by our standards today, but they still accomplished some pretty amazing things.

Take, for example, the Hohokams, a prehistoric people who lived in the Sonora Desert.  Back in 300 BC, they built a canal system that was considered an engineering marvel in its day.  They used only primitive tools, digging a 220-mile canal system to bring water from the Gila and Salt rivers to their crops. The canals were deep enough that fish sometimes swam up them, providing another source of food. The remains of their canal system can be seen today at Casa Grande Ruins National Monument at Coolidge, Arizona.

The Hohokams were a self-sustaining people. They grew a variety of edible foods, including two corn crops a year; tobacco, and cotton, which they spun into thread and wove into clothes. They stored food and seeds in large decorative pottery containers. They hunted and they fished. They made fine jewelry.

In the 14th century, they built a huge adobe house that was 60 feet long and four stories high. They surrounded it with lesser walls. .In the 15th century, the Ancestral Sonora Desert People, as these Native Americans are known today, simply began to disappear. There was no one there by 1694 when Father Eusebio Kino came across this large house and compound. He called it “casa grande,” which means “great house.” Father Kino, a Jesuit from Italy, came to the New World with the Spanish in the 17th century, and explored the southwest, founding churches t Tumacacori and San Xavier del Bac, both south of Tucson.

The large house today is under a roof to protect it as much as possible from the elements. The adobe is cracked; support beams have been added to keep it standing as long as possible.

The ruins make a good day trip from Phoenix or Tucson and can easily be combined with a visit to St.Anthony’s Greek Orthodox Monastery.

The ruins are open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. seven days a week, though they are closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas days. Operated by the National Park Service, the ruins are located on Highway 87 just across from Safeway Plaza in Coolidge.

You can see more pictures of the ruins on my Youtube slideshow.





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