La Villa was undoubtedly one of the earliest occupied Hohokam
villages on the Lower Salt River Valley. Very early settlement patterns
indicate that the area was a farmstead; it grew to be a village in the mid
to late phase. Although the size of the population varied from time
to time, overall it increased until the site was abandoned around AD 800-850.
The features that have been discovered date
from AD 350 to AD 850; therefore it is likely that occupation of La Villa
also fell between those dates.
The entire area northeast of the canal (the
Pioneer & Military Memorial Park) was occupied by the Hohokam at one
time or another. At its height, the La Villa settlement may have extended
north beyond Jefferson Street, east as far as 7th Avenue, southeast to
5th Avenue, south several blocks beyond Harrison, and west beyond 15th
The settlement at the cemetery site was
called Casa Chica in an earlier archaeological study, but La Villa is now
considered to be its proper name. Other nearby Hohokam villages are
known today as Pueblo Patricio (downtown Phoenix), La Ciudad (about two
miles northeast), Las Colinas (about two miles northwest) and many others
The location of La Villa, fully two
miles north of the Salt River bed, demonstrates that inhabitants were well
aware of the river’s potential for flooding and the extent of the flood
plain. The hardy Hohokam could easily have walked the two miles to the
river for water whenever necessary.
Hohokam life centered around the cultivation
of beans, maize and possibly cotton. Small-scale shell jewelry-making
also took place. Marine shells were acquired from the Gulf of California
via trading routes, and freshwater mollusks from the Salt River and the canal
provided a secondary source of food and shells.
Archaeological evidence shows that canal
construction began as early as AD 450, with the canal supplying water for
daily nees and the irrigation of fields. The most likely course of
the La Villa canal on cemetery property is northwesterly from Tom Graham’s
grave (Number 30 on the self-guided walking tour) to Captain John Wren Owens’
grave (Number 24). Irrigation water may have been funneled west toward
a small, Classic Period village now known as Casa Chica.
Flooding and silting of the canal may have
caused La Villa to be abandoned as a permanent village. Subsequent
occupation might have been limited to certain seasons of the year. There
is no evidence of significant occupation after AD 800, although the canal
system may have continued to function on a more limited basis.
In 2011, another dig under the direction of Michael Lindeman
uncovered even more artifacts from La Villa’s pre-Columbian past.
This is a partial list of conclusions
drawn from K. J. Schroeder’s 1990-1992 archaeological study of La Villa,
as interpreted by Bob Cox, PCA secretary, with comments by K. J. on 27 April
2012. Interested readers may purchase copies of K. J. Schroeder's two-volume
project report entitled "Pioneer & Military Memorial Park Archaeological
Project in Phoenix, Arizona, 1990-1992" from the PCA. Supplies are