A multi-factor analysis of the emergence of a specialist-based economy among the Phoenix Basin Hohokam
This project examines the social and economic factors that contributed to the development of a specialist-based economy among the Phoenix Basin Hohokam. In the Hohokam case, widespread dependence on the products of a few concentrated pottery producers developed in the absence of political centralization or hierarchical social arrangements. The factors that promoted intensified pottery production, therefore, are the keys to addressing how economic systems can expand in small-scale and middle-range societies. This dissertation constructs a multi-factor model that explores changes to the organization of decorated pottery production during a substantial portion of the pre-Classic period (AD 700 - AD 1020). The analysis is designed to examine simultaneously several variables that may have encouraged demand for ceramic vessels made by specialists. This study evaluates the role of four factors in the development of supply and demand for specialist produced red-on-buff pottery in Hohokam settlements. The factors include 1) agricultural intensification in the form of irrigation agriculture, 2) increases in population density, 3) ritual or social obligations that require the production of particular craft items, and 4) reduced transport costs. Supply and demand for specialist-produced pottery is estimated through a sourcing analysis of non-local pottery at 13 Phoenix Basin settlements. Through a series of statistical analyses, the study measures changes in the influence of each factor on demand for specialist-produced pottery through four temporal phases of the Hohokam pre-Classic period. The analysis results indicate that specialized red-on-buff production was initially spurred by demand for light-colored, shiny, decorated pottery, but then by comparative advantages to specialized production in particular areas of the Phoenix Basin. Specialists concentrated on the Snaketown canal system were able to generate light-colored, mica-dense wares that Phoenix Basin consumers desired while lowering transport costs in the distribution of red-on-buff pottery. The circulation of decorated wares was accompanied by the production of plainware pottery in other areas of the Phoenix Basin. Economic growth in the region was based on complementary and coordinated economic activities between the Salt and the Gila River valleys.