Paul E. Minnis – “The Boring Side of Paquime”

Turkey Pen Plaza at Paquime (photo courtesy of the Amerind Foundation)

Paquime roomblocks with Cerro Montezuma in the background (photo courtesy of the Amerind Foundation)


The size and massive architecture of Paquimé (Casas Grandes) in northwestern Chihuahua has impressed visitors for centuries, ever since the first Spanish entradas to the area.  During the Medio Period, approximately A.D. 1200-1450, this site was one of the major and most influential communities in the  SW/NW (Southwest U.S./northwest Mexico).

The Joint Casas Grandes Expedition’s excavations, guided by the Amerind Foundation and Mexico’s Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia, during the mid-20th century revealed even more impressive archaeological data such as 1½ tons of shell, hundreds of tropical parrots, an amazingly well designed water system, and extraordinary architecture engineering.  Yet, to have a fuller understand the society—any society, for that matter—we need to look beyond all the glitter and goodies.  Study of farming, humble outlying villages, groundstone, turkeys, and even barely visible charred plant remains paint a fuller understand of this remarkable society.  Maybe boring isn’t really boring after all.

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