Innovation in context: the process of stylistic change among Hohokam potters in the Phoenix Basin, A.D. 800-1300
The causes and consequences of stylistic change have been a concern of archaeologists over the past several decades. The actual process of stylistic innovation, however, has received less attention. This project explores the relationship between the process of stylistic innovation on decorated pottery and the social context in which it occurred in the Hohokam area of south-central Arizona between A.D. 800 and 1300. This interval was punctuated by three episodes of reorganization, each of which was characterized to varying degrees by significant shifts in ideology, economics, and politics. Each reorganization episode was also accompanied by a rapid profusion of stylistic innovation on buff ware pottery. The goal of this study was to build a framework to understand the variation in the process of innovation as a response to different incentives and opportunities perceived in the changing social environment. By bringing stylistic analyses and provenance data together for the first time in Hohokam red-on-buff studies, I investigated how the process of innovation was variously influenced by social reorganizations at three different periods of time: the 9th, 11th, and 12th centuries A.D. Four variables were used to evaluate the process of innovation at each temporal period: 1) The origin of a stylistic invention, 2) the rate of its adoption, 3) the pattern of its adoption, and 4) the uniformity of its adoption among all buff ware potting communities. To accomplish the task, stylistic innovations and provenance were recorded on over 3,700 red-on-buff sherds were analyzed from 20 sites in the Phoenix Basin. The innovation process was found to vary with each reorganization episode, but often in different ways than expected. The results revealed the complexity and unpredictability of the process of stylistic innovation among the Hohokam. They also challenged some assumptions archaeologists have made regarding the scale and extent of the changes associated with some of the reorganization episodes. The variables utilized to measure the innovation process were found to be effective at providing a composite picture of that process, and thus warrant broader application to other archaeological contexts.