Hunting intensification and the Hohokam "collapse"

Rebecca M. Dean

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


The role of long-term demographic stress in the "collapse" of the Hohokam culture of southern Arizona is an open question. If chronic imbalances between population levels and food production, as opposed to catastrophic events, were key factors in the population decline of the 15th century, then the archaeological record should produce evidence for resource stress prior to the near-abandonment of the region. It is difficult to document resource depression in archaeofaunas from southern Arizona, however, because they are dominated by small game throughout the agricultural sequence. Furthermore, in an ecologically and economically diverse region, it is difficult to apply data from an individual site to a region-wide phenomenon like the Hohokam demographic decline. This study uses data from 85 faunal assemblages to explore hunting strategies from the earliest agricultural villages to the cessation of archaeologically visible occupation of the region. One means of hunting intensification employed by the Hohokam was to diversify beyond a focus on staple rabbit species, through the use of fish, birds, artiodactyls, and smaller terrestrial game. Diversification is measured in this study through evenness indices. These indices suggest that demographic stress was increasing in the dense population centers of the Salt and Gila River basins prior to the "collapse.".

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)109-132
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Anthropological Archaeology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Agriculture
  • Foraging theory
  • Hohokam
  • Zooarchaeology


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