Zooarchaeology and chronology of Homol'ovi I and other Pueblo IV period sites in the central Little Colorado River valley, northern Arizona

Vincent Michael LaMotta
Dept. of Anthropology, University of Arizona
July, 2006


This study explores aspects of the development and organization of a mid-thirteenth through fourteenth-century, ancestral Hopi settlement cluster at Homol'ovi, located in the central Little Colorado River valley in north-central Arizona. The Homol'ovi cluster has been the subject of an intensive, 20-plus year program of excavation and survey by the Arizona State Museum's Homol'ovi Research Program. Homol'ovi I, an 1100-room pueblo occupied from approximately A.D. 1290 to 1400, was excavated between 1994 and 1999 and yielded deeply stratified, intact cultural deposits. The present study develops an internal, ceramic-based chronology of deposits at Homol'ovi I; establishes temporal relationships between occupational components at Homol'ovi I and other Pueblo IV period sites in the Homol'ovi cluster; and explores spatial and temporal variation in ritual activities within the Homol'ovi cluster through the lens of zooarchaeology. The Homol'ovi I chronology developed in this study is based on frequency seriation of imported Jeddito Yellow Ware pottery; stylistic, formal, and technological analysis of Jeddito Yellow Ware; ceramic cross-dating; and high-precision AMS radiocarbon dating. These dating techniques make it possible to seriate cultural deposits at Homol'ovi I, and to tie deposits from other local sites into the Homol'ovi I sequence. Additionally, some of the techniques potentially can be applied to date sites in other regions where Jeddito Yellow Ware pottery is found. This chronological research establishes a framework for tracking behavioral and organizational changes within the village of Homol'ovi I, and for situating events and processes in the life history of this community within a broader, regional context. One potential application of this chronological framework is explored through a zooarchaeological study that addresses temporal and site-to-site variation in the use and deposition of ritually sensitive categories of fauna at Homol'ovi I and other nearby villages, including Homol'ovi II, III, and IV. The fauna of interest include birds, carnivores, artiodactyls, and certain reptiles and amphibians. This study identifies a number of temporal trends that may be related to a major, late-fourteenth century reorganization of the Homol'ovi cluster and its external relations. In doing so, it lays a foundation for further research into the ritual organization of the Homol'ovi cluster.