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Title: Casa Grande Ruin - Thirteenth Annual Report of the Bureau of Ethnology to the - Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, 1891-92, - Government Printing Office, Washington, 1896, pages 289-318
Author: Mindeleff, Cosmos, 1863-
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Casa Grande Ruin - Thirteenth Annual Report of the Bureau of Ethnology to the - Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, 1891-92, - Government Printing Office, Washington, 1896, pages 289-318" ***

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by the Bibliothèque nationale de France (BnF/Gallica) at

       *       *       *       *       *

                CASA GRANDE RUIN


                COSMOS MINDELEFF

       *       *       *       *       *


Introduction                                   295
  Location and character                       295
  History and literature                       295
Description                                    298
  The Casa Grande group                        298
  Casa Grande ruin                             306
    State of preservation                      306
    Dimensions                                 307
    Detailed description                       309
    Openings                                   314
Conclusions                                    318


Plate LI. Map of Casa Grande group             298
     LII. Ground plan of Casa Grande ruin      302
    LIII. General view of Casa Grande ruin     305
     LIV. Standing wall near Casa Grande       307
      LV. Western front of Casa Grande ruin    309
     LVI. Interior wall of Casa Grande ruin    310
    LVII. Blocked opening in western wall      312
   LVIII. Square opening in southern room      314
     LIX. Remains of lintel                    317
      LX. Circular opening in northern room    319

Fig. 328. Map of large mound                   301
     329. Map of hollow mound                  304
     330. Elevations of walls, middle room     315

       *       *       *       *       *

                CASA GRANDE RUIN

              By Cosmos Mindeleff

       *       *       *       *       *



The Casa Grande ruin, situated near Gila river, in southern Arizona, is
perhaps the best known specimen of aboriginal architecture in the United
States, and no treatise on American antiquities is complete without a
more or less extended description of it. Its literature, which extends
over two centuries, is voluminous, but of little value to the practical
scientific worker, since hardly two descriptions can be found which
agree. The variations in size of the ruin given by various authors is
astonishing, ranging from 1,500 square feet to nearly 5 acres or about
200,000 square feet in area. These extreme variations are doubtless due
to difference of judgment as to what portion of the area covered by
remains of walls should be assigned to the Casa Grande proper, for this
structure is but a portion of a large group of ruins.

So far as known to the writer no accurate plan of the Casa Grande ruin
proper has hitherto been made, although plans have been published; and
very few data concerning the group of which it forms a part are
available. It would seem, therefore, that a brief report presenting
accurate plans and careful descriptions may be of value, even though
no pretention to exhaustive treatment is made.


The earlier writers on the Casa Grande generally state that it was in
ruins at the time of the first Spanish invasion of the country, in 1540,
and quote in support of this assertion Castañeda's description of a ruin
encountered on the march.[1] Castañeda remarks that, "The structure
was in ruins and without a roof." Elsewhere he says that the name
"Chichilticale" was given to the place where they stopped because the
monks found in the vicinity a house which had been inhabited by a people
who came from Cibola. He surmises that the ruin was formerly a fortress,
destroyed long before by the barbarous tribes which they found in the
country. His description of these tribes seems to apply to the Apache.

    [Footnote 1: Castañeda in Ternaux-Compans. Voyage de Cibola. French
    text, p. 1, pp. 41, 161-162. (The original text--Spanish--is in the
    Lenox Library; no English translation has yet been published.)]

The geographic data furnished by Castañeda and the other chroniclers of
Coronado's expedition is very scanty, and the exact route followed has
not yet been determined and probably never will be. So far as these data
go, however, they are against the assumption that the Chichilticale of
Castañeda is the Casa Grande of today. Mr. A. F. Bandelier, whose
studies of the documentary history of the southwest are well known,
inclines to the opinion that the vicinity of Old Camp Grant, on the Rio
San Pedro, Arizona, more nearly fill the descriptions. Be this as it
may, however, the work of Castañeda was lost to sight, and it is not
until more than a century later that the authentic history of the ruin

In 1694 the Jesuit Father Kino heard of the ruin, and later in the same
year visited it and said mass within its walls. His secretary and usual
companion on his missionary journeys, Mange by name, was not with him on
this occasion, but in 1697 another visit was paid to the ruin and the
description recorded by Mange[1] in his diary heads the long list of
accounts extending down to the present time.[2] Mange describes the ruin
as consisting of--

  A large edifice, the principal room in the center being four stories
  high, and those adjoining it on its four sides three stories, with
  walls 2 varas thick, of strong argamaso y baro (adobe) so smooth on
  the inside that they resemble planed boards, and so polished that
  they shine like Puebla pottery.

    [Footnote 1: An English translation is given by H. H. Bancroft,
    Works, iv, p. 622, note. Also by Bartlett, Personal Narrative, 1854,
    vol. ii, pp. 281-282; another was published by Schoolcraft, Hist.
    Cond. and Pros. of Am. Ind., vol. iii, 1853, p. 301.]

    [Footnote 2: Quite an extensive list is given by Bancroft
    (op. cit., pp. 622-625, notes), and by Bandelier in Papers Arch.
    Inst. of Amer., American series, i, p. 11, note.]

Mange also gives some details of construction, and states that in the
immediate vicinity there were remains of twelve other buildings, the
walls half fallen and the roofs burned out.

Following Mange's account there were a number of descriptions of no
special value, and a more useful one written by Padre Font, who in 1775
and 1776 made a journey to Gila and Colorado rivers and beyond. This
description[1] is quite circumstantial and is of especial interest
because it formed the basis of nearly all the accounts written up to the
time when that country came into our possession. According to this

  The house forms an oblong square, facing exactly the four cardinal
  points, and round about it there are ruins indicating a fence or
  wall which surrounded the house and other buildings. The exterior or
  plaza extends north and south 420 feet and east and west 260 feet.

    [Footnote 1: A number of copies of Font's Journal are known.
    Bancroft gives a partial translation in op. cit., p. 623, note, as
    does also Bartlett (op. cit., pp. 278-280); and a French translation
    is given by Ternaux Compans, ix, Voyages de Cibola, appendix.]

Font measured the five rooms of the main building, and recorded many
interesting details. It will be noticed that he described a surrounding
wall inclosing a comparatively large area; and nearly all the writers
who published accounts prior to our conquest of the country in 1846
based their descriptions on Font's journal and erroneously applied his
measurement of the supposed circumscribing wall to the Casa Grande

The conquest of the country by the "Army of the West" attracted
attention anew to the ruin, through the descriptions of Colonel Emory
and Captain Johnston. The expedition passed up the Gila valley, and
Colonel Emory, in his journal, gives a fanciful illustration and a
slight description. The journal of Captain Johnston contained a somewhat
better description and a rough but fairly good sketch. The best
description of that period, however, was that given by John Russell
Bartlett, in his "Personal Narrative," published in 1854.

Bartlett observed that the ruin consists of three buildings, "all
included within an area of 150 yards." He described these buildings and
gave ground plans of two of them and elevations of the principal
structure. He also gave a translation of a portion of Font's journal, as
well as the previous description of Mange. He surmised that the central
room of the main building, and perhaps the whole structure, was used for
the storage of corn.

Bartlett's account held place for nearly thirty years as the main
reliance of compilers, and it forms today one of the most circumstantial
and comprehensive descriptions extant. Other descriptions appeared at
intervals of a few years, some compiled from Bartlett and Font, others
based on personal observation, but none of them containing anything new,
until the account of Mr. A. F. Bandelier, published some ten years
ago,[1] is reached.

    [Footnote 1: Archæological Inst. of Amer., 5th Ann. Rep., 1884.]

Mr. Bandelier described the large group, of which the Casa Grande forms
a part, and gave its dimensions as 400 meters (1,300 feet) north and
south by 200 meters (650 feet) east and west. He also described and gave
measurements of the Casa Grande proper and discusses its place in the
field of aboriginal architecture. In a later publication[1] he discussed
the ruin at somewhat greater length, and presented also a rough sketch
plan of the group and ground plans of the Casa Grande and of the mound
north of it. He gave a short history of the ruin and quite an extended
account of the Pima traditions concerning it. He considered the Casa
Grande a stronghold or fortress, a place of last resort, the
counterpart, functionally, of the blockhouse of the early settlers of
eastern United States.

    [Footnote 1: Papers Archæol. Inst. of Amer., Amer. ser., iv,
    Cambridge, 1892, p. 453 et sec.]

In 1888 Mr. F. H. Cushing presented to the Congrès International des
Américanistes[1] some "Preliminary notes" on his work as director of the
Hemenway southwestern archeological expedition. Mr. Cushing did not
describe the Casa Grande, but merely alluded to it as a surviving
example of the temple, or principal structure, which occurred in
conjunction with nearly all the settlements studied. As Mr. Cushing's
work was devoted, however, to the investigation of remains analogous to,
if not identical with, the Casa Grande, his report forms a valuable
contribution to the literature of this subject, and although not
everyone can accept the broad inferences and generalizations drawn by
Mr. Cushing--of which he was able, unfortunately, to present only a mere
statement--the report should be consulted by every student of
southwestern archeology.

    [Footnote 1: Berlin meeting, 1888; Compte-Rendu, Berlin, 1890,
    p. 150 et seq.]

The latest contribution to the literature of the Casa Grande is a report
by Dr. J. Walter Fewkes,[1] also of the Hemenway expedition, under the
title "On the present condition of a ruin in Arizona called Casa
Grande." Two magnificent illustrations are presented, engravings from
photographs, showing general views of the ruin, as well as a number of
views depicting details, and the ground plan presented at the end of the
report is the best so far published. It is unfortunate that this author
was not able to give more time to the study of the ruin; yet his report
is a valuable contribution to our knowledge concerning the Casa Grande.

    [Footnote 1: Jour. of Amer. Ethn. and Arch., Cambridge, 1892, vol.
    ii, page 179 et seq.]



The Casa Grande has been variously placed at from 2 leagues to 2 miles
south of Gila river. The writer has never traversed the distance from
the ruin to the river, but the ruin is about a mile from Walker ranch,
which is well known in that neighborhood, and about half a mile from the
river. This question, however, is not of much importance, as the ruin is
easily found by anyone looking for it, being located directly on one of
the stage routes from Casa Grande station, on the Southern Pacific
railroad, to Florence, Arizona, and about 9 miles below, or west of, the
latter place.

The name Casa Grande has been usually applied to a single structure
standing near the southwestern corner of a large area covered by mounds
and other débris, but some writers have applied it to the southwestern
portion of the area and even to the whole area. The latter seems the
proper application of the term, but to avoid confusion, where both the
settlement as a whole and that portion which has formed the theme of so
many writers are referred to, the settlement will be designated as the
Casa Grande group, and the single structure with standing walls as the
Casa Grande ruin.

Probably no two investigators would assign the same limits to the area
covered by the group, as the margins of this area merge imperceptibly
into the surrounding country. The accompanying map (plate LI) shows this
area as interpreted by the writer. The surface covered by well defined
remains, as there shown, extends about 1,800 feet north and south and
1,500 feet east and west, or a total area of about 65 acres.

[Illustration: Pl. LI: Map of Casa Grande Group.]

The Casa Grande ruin, as the term is here used, occupies a position near
the southwestern corner of the group, and it will be noticed that its
size is insignificant as compared with that of the entire group, or even
with the large structure in the north-central part of it. The division
of the group into northern and southern portions, which has been made by
some writers, is clearly shown on the map; but this division is more
apparent than real. The contour interval on the map is one foot--a
sufficiently small interval to show the surface configuration closely
and to bring out some of its peculiarities. Depressions are shown by
dotted contours. It will be noticed that while most of the mounds which
mark the sites of former structures rise but 10 feet or less above the
surrounding level, the profiles vary considerably, some being much more
smoothed off and rounded than others, the former being shown on the map
by even, "flowing" contours, while the latter are more irregular; and it
will be further noticed that the irregularity reaches its maximum in the
vicinity of the Casa Grande ruin proper, where the ground surface was
more recently formed, from the fall of walls that were standing within
the historical period.

External appearance is a very unsafe criterion of age, although in some
cases, like the present, it affords a fair basis for hypothesis as to
comparative age; but even in this case, where the various portions of
the group have presumably been affected alike by climatic and other
influences, such hypothesis, while perhaps interesting, must be used
with the greatest caution. Within a few miles of this place the writer
has seen the remains of a modern adobe house whose maximum age could not
exceed a decade or two, yet which presented an appearance of antiquity
quite as great as that of the wall remains east and southeast of the
Casa Grande ruin.

The application of the hypothesis to the map brings out some interesting
results. In the first place, it may be seen that in the lowest mounds,
such as those in the northwestern corner of the sheet, on the southern
margin, and southwest of the well-marked mound on the eastern margin,
the contours are more flowing and the slopes more gentle than in others.
This suggests that these smoothed mounds are older than the others, and,
further, that their present height is not so great as their former
height; and again, under this hypothesis, it suggests that the remains
do not belong to one period, but that the interval which elapsed between
the abandonment of the structures whose sites are marked by the low
mounds and the most recent abandonment was long. In other words, this
group, under the hypothesis, affords another illustration of a fact
constantly impressed on the student of southwestern village remains,
that each village site marks but an epoch in the history of the tribe
occupying it--a period during which there was constant, incessant
change, new bands or minor divisions of the tribe appearing on the
scene, other divisions leaving the parent village for other sites, and
the ebb and flow continuing until at some period in its history the
population of a village sometimes became so reduced that the remainder,
as a matter of precaution, or for some trifling reason, abandoned it en
masse. This phase of pueblo life, more prominent in the olden days than
at present, but still extant, has not received the prominence it
deserves in the study of southwestern remains. Its effects can be seen
in almost every ruin; not all the villages of a group, nor even all the
parts of a village, were inhabited at the same time, and estimates of
population based on the number of ruins within a given region, and even
those based on the size of a given ruin, must be materially revised. As
this subject has been elsewhere[1] discussed, it can be dismissed here
with the statement that the Casa Grande group seems to have formed no
exception to the general rule, but that its population changed from time
to time, and that the extent of the remains is no criterion of the
former population.

    [Footnote 1: See pp. 179-261 of this Report, "Aboriginal Remains in
    Verde Valley."]

It will be noticed that in some of the mounds, noticeably those in the
immediate vicinity of the Casa Grande ruin, the surface is very
irregular. In this instance the irregularity indicates a recent
formation of surface; for at this point many walls now marked only by
mounds were standing within the historical period. External contour is
of course a product of erosion, yet similarity of contour does not
necessarily indicate either equal erosion or equal antiquity. Surface
erosion does not become a prominent factor until after the walls have
fallen, and one wall may easily last for a century or two centuries
longer than another similarly situated. The surface erosion of a
standing wall of grout, such as these under discussion, is very slight;
photographs of the Casa Grande ruin, extending over a period of sixteen
years, and made from practically the same point of view, show that the
skyline or silhouette remained essentially unchanged during that period,
every little knob and projection remaining the same. It is through
sapping or undermining at the ground surface that walls are destroyed.
An inspection of the illustrations accompanying this paper will show
what is meant by sapping: the external walls are cut away at the ground
surface to a depth varying from a few inches to nearly 2 feet. After a
rain the ground, and that portion of the walls at present below its
surface, retains moisture much longer than the part of the walls which
stands clear; the moisture rises by capillary attraction a foot or two
above the ground surface, rendering the walls at this level softer than
elsewhere, and as this portion is more exposed to the flying sand which
the wind sweeps over the ground it is here that erosion attains its
maximum. The wall is gradually cut away at and just above the ground
surface until finally the base becomes too small to support it and it
falls en masse. Then and not till then surface erosion becomes an
important factor and the profile of the mass becomes finally rounded.
But it will be readily seen that a slight difference of texture, or
thickness, or exposure, or some trifling difference too minute for
observation, might easily add many decades to the apparent age of a
mound. The walls once fallen, however, the rounding or smoothing of the
mounds would probably proceed at an equal rate throughout the group, and
study of the profile gives a fairly good estimate as to the comparative
age of the mounds. On this basis the most ancient mounds are those
specified above, while the most recent are those in the immediate
vicinity of the Casa Grande ruin. This estimate accords well with the
limited historical data and with the Pima traditions, which recount that
the Casa Grande ruin was the last inhabited village in this vicinity.

[Illustration: Fig. 328.--Map of large mound.]

Probably intermediate in time between the Casa Grande ruin and the
rounded mounds described above should be placed the large structure
occupying the northern-central part of the map. This mound is deserving
of more than a passing notice. It consists of two mounds, each four or
five times the size of the Casa Grande ruin, resting on a flat-topped
pedestal or terrace about 5 feet above the general level. The summits of
these mounds, which are nearly flat, are some 13 feet above this level.
The sides of the mounds slope very sharply, and have suffered somewhat
from erosion, being cut by deep gullies, as shown in figure 328, which
is an enlargement from the map. It has been stated that these structures
were mounds, pure and simple, used for sacrifice or worship, resembling
somewhat the well-known pyramid of Cholula; but there is no doubt that
they are the remains of house-structures, for a careful examination of
the surface on the slopes, reveals the ends of regular walls. The height
is not exceptional, the mound on the east being less than 3 feet lower,
while the one on the southeast lacks less than 4 feet of its height. The
characteristic feature, however, and one difficult to explain, except on
the hypothesis stated, is the sharp slope of the sides. It will be
noticed that the raised base or terrace on which the mounds are located
is not perfectly flat, but on the contrary has a raised rim. This rim
seems quite inconsistent with the theory which has been advanced that
the terrace was built up solidly as a terrace or base, as in that case
it would seem natural that the slope from the base of the mounds to the
edge of the terrace would be continuous.

There is an abundance of room between the crest of the rim and the base
of the terrace for a row of single rooms, inclosing a court within which
the main structures stood, or such a court may have been covered, wholly
or partly with clusters of rooms, single storied outside, but rising in
the center, in two main clusters, three or more stories high. Such an
agglomeration of rooms might under certain conditions produce the result
seen here, although a circumscribing heavy wall, occupying the position
of the crest of the rim and inclosing two main clusters each rising
three or more stories, might also produce this result. The difficulty
with the latter hypothesis is, however, that under it we should expect
to find a greater depression between the base of the mounds and the edge
of the terrace. The most reasonable hypothesis, therefore, is that the
space between the base of the mounds and the edge of the terrace was
occupied by rooms of one story. This would also help to explain the
steepness of the slopes of the mounds themselves. The walls of the
structures they represent, being protected by the adjacent low walls of
the one-story rooms, would not suffer appreciably by undermining at the
ground level, and if the central room or rooms of each cluster were
higher than the surrounding rooms, as is the case in the Casa Grande
ruin, the exterior walls, being usually heavier than the inner walls,
would be the last to succumb, the clusters would be filled up by the
disintegration of the inner walls, and not until the spaces between the
low one-story walls surrounding the central cluster were nearly filled
up would the pronounced disintegration of the outer walls of the
structures commence. At that period the walls were probably covered and
protected by debris dropping from above, and possibly the profile of the
mounds was already established, being only slightly modified by surface
erosion since.

[Illustration: Pl. LII: Ground Plan of Casa Grande Ruin.]

About the center of the eastern side of the terrace, and also on the
western side, the water which falls on the surface of the structure is
discharged through rather pronounced depressions at these points. These
depressions are not the work of running water, though doubtless
emphasized by that agency, but represent low or open spaces in the
original structure, probably passageways or gateways. Furthermore,
before or inside each gateway there is a slightly depressed area, just
where we would expect to find it under our hypothesis, and showing that
the process of filling in is not yet completed. If the structure were to
remain undisturbed for some decades longer these spaces would doubtless
be filled up from material washed from the mounds, giving eventually a
continuous slope from the base of the mounds to the edge of the terrace.

On the eastern margin of the map and in the southeastern corner two
small and sharply defined mounds, differing in character from any others
of the group, are represented. That shown on the eastern margin rises
about 6 feet and the other about 10 feet above the surrounding level,
and both stand out alone, no other remains occurring within a hundred
yards in any direction. These mounds seem a thing apart from the other
remains in the group; and it is probable that they represent the latest
period in the occupancy of this site, or possibly a period subsequent to
its final abandonment as a place of residence. Analogous remains occur
in conjunction with some large ruins in the north, and there they
represent single rooms, parts of the original structure kept in a fair
state of preservation by occasional repairs while the remainder of the
village was going to ruin, and used as farming outlooks long after the
site was abandoned as a place of residence. As these farming outlooks
have been discussed at some length in another paper[1] it is not
necessary here to enlarge upon their function and the important part
they play in Pueblo architecture. If the high mounds in question mark,
as supposed, the sites of farming outlooks such as those which are found
in the north, they indicate that the occupancy of the region in which
they occur was continued after the abandonment of the Casa Grande
structure by the people who built it or by people of similar habits and

    [Footnote 1: A Study of Pueblo Architecture; 8th Ann. Rep. Bur.
    Eth., 1891, pp. 86, 227, and elsewhere.]

An inspection of the map will show a number of depressions, some of
quite large area, indicated by dotted contour lines. The principal one
occurs a little west of the center of the area, and is worth more than a
passing notice since similar structures are widely distributed
throughout this region. It may be roughly characterized as a mound with
excavated center. The ground for some distance about the structure
(except for two depressions discussed later) is quite flat. From this
flat surface as a base the structure rises to a height of 5 feet. From
the exterior it has the appearance of an ordinary mound, but on reaching
the top the interior is found to be hollowed out to a depth which even
at the present day is below the surrounding surface, although not below
the depressions adjoining. The main structure or mound is shown in
figure 329 (an enlargement from the map). It measures on top of the
crest 150 feet from north to south and about 80 feet from east to west,
but covers a ground area of 200 feet by 120 feet or over half an acre.
The crest is of the same height throughout, except for slight elevations
on the eastern and western sides and a little knoll or swell in the
southwestern corner. There is no indication of any break in the
continuity of the crest such as would be found were there openings or
gateways to the interior. The bottom of the depression in the main
structure is at present about a foot below the surrounding ground
surface, but it must have been originally considerably more than this,
as the profile indicates long exposure to atmospheric erosion and
consequent filling of the interior. No excavation was made and the
character of the construction can not be determined, but the mound is
apparently a simple earth structure--not laid up in blocks, like the
Casa Grande ruin.

[Illustration: Fig. 329.--Map of hollow mound.]

[Illustration: Pl. LIII: General View of Casa Grande.]

To the east and to the west are two large depressions, each about 5 feet
below the surrounding ground surface, evidently the places whence the
material for the construction of the mound was obtained. Yet the amount
of material removed from these excavations must have been considerably
in excess of that used in the construction of the mound, and this excess
was doubtless utilized in neighboring constructions, since it is hardly
to be supposed that it was carried away to any considerable distance.

The purpose of this hollow mound, which is a fair type of many similar
structures found in this region, is not clear. Mr. Frank Hamilton
Cushing, while director of the Hemenway southwestern archeological
expedition, found a number of these structures and excavated some of
them. From remains thus found he concluded that they were sun-temples,
as he termed them, and that they were covered with a roof made of coiled
strands of grass, after a manner analogous to that in which pueblo
baskets are made. A somewhat similar class of structures was found by
the writer on the upper Rio Verde, but these were probably thrashing
floors. Possibly the structure under discussion was for a similar
purpose, yet its depth in proportion to its size was almost too great
for such use. The question must be left for determination if possible by

In the southern central part of the map is shown another excavation,
covering a larger area than any of the others, of very irregular outline
and from 3 to 4 feet deep. It is apparently older than the others and
probably furnished the material for the house structures northeast and
southwest of it. Bordering the depression on the south there are some
low mounds, almost obliterated, which probably were the sites of other
house structures.

Scattered about the area shown on the map there are several small
depressions, usually more regular in outline than those described. The
best example is situated near the northeastern corner of the area. It is
situated in the point of a low promontory, is about 3 feet deep, almost
regularly oval in outline, and measures about 50 by 100 feet. A similar
depression less than 2 feet deep occurs near the northwest corner of the
area, and immediately south of the last there is another, more irregular
in outline, and nearly 3 feet deep. There are also some small
depressions in the immediate vicinity of the Casa Grande ruin and of the
mounds north of it.

With a single exception none of these depressions are so situated that
they could be used as reservoirs for the storage of water collected from
the surface, and the catchment area of the depressions is so small and
the rate of evaporation in this area so great that their use as
reservoirs is out of the question. It is probable that all of the
smaller depressions represent simply sites where building material was
obtained. Possibly the ground at these points furnished more suitable
material than elsewhere, and, if so, the builders may have taken the
trouble to transport it several hundred yards rather than follow the
usual practice of using material within a few feet of the site. This
hypothesis would explain the large size of the depressions, otherwise an
anomalous feature.


_State of Preservation._

The area occupied by the Casa Grande ruin is insignificant as compared
with that of the entire group, yet it has attracted the greater
attention because it comprises practically all the walls still standing.
There is only one small fragment of wall east of the main structure and
another south of it.

The ruin is especially interesting because it is the best preserved
example now remaining of a type of structure which, there is reason to
believe, was widely distributed throughout the Gila valley, and which,
so far as now known, is not found elsewhere. The conditions under which
pueblo architecture developed in the north were peculiar, and stamped
themselves indelibly on the house structures there found. Here in the
south there is a radical change in physical environment: even the
available building material was different, and while it is probable that
a systematic investigation of this field will show essentially the same
ideas that in the north are worked out in stone, here embodied in a
different material and doubtless somewhat modified to suit the changed
environment, yet any general conclusion based on the study of a single
ruin would be unsafe. In the present state of knowledge of this field it
is not advisable to attempt more than a detailed description, embodying,
however, a few inferences, applicable to this ruin only, which seem well
supported by the evidence obtained.

The Casa Grande ruin is located near the southwestern corner of the
group, and the ground surface for miles about it in every direction is
so flat that from the summit of the walls an immense stretch of country
is brought under view. On the east is the broad valley of Gila river
rising in a great plain to a distant range of mountains. About a mile
and a half toward the north a fringe of cottonwood trees marks the
course of the river, beyond which the plain continues, broken somewhat
by hills and buttes, until the view is closed by the Superstition
mountains. On the northwest the valley of Gila river runs into the
horizon, with a few buttes here and there. On the west lies a range of
mountains closing the valley in that direction, while toward the
southwest and south it extends until in places it meets the horizon,
while in other places it is closed by ranges of mountain blue and misty
in the distance. In an experience of some years among northern ruins,
many of them located with special reference to outlook over tillable
lands, the writer has found no other ruin so well situated as this.

The character of the site occupied by the ruin indicates that it belongs
to a late date if not to the final period in the occupancy of this
region, a period when by reason of natural increase of numbers, or
perhaps aggregation of related gentes, the defense motive no longer
dominated the selection of a village site, but reliance was placed on
numbers and character of structures, and the builders felt free to
select a site with reference only to their wants as a horticultural
people. This period or stage has been reached by many of the Pueblo
tribes, although mostly within the historical period; but some of them,
the Tusayan for example, are still in a prior stage.

[Illustration: Pl. LIV: Standing Wall near Casa Grande.]

A ground plan of the ruin is shown in plate LII, and a general view in
plate LIII. The area covered and inclosed by standing walls is about 43
feet by 59 feet, but the building is not exactly rectangular, and the
common statement that it faces the cardinal points is erroneous. The
variation from the magnetic north is shown on the ground plan, which was
made in December, 1890. The building comprised three central rooms, each
approximately 10 by 24 feet, arranged side by side with the longer axes
north and south, and two other rooms, each about 9 by 35 feet, occupying
respectively the northern and southern ends of the building, and
arranged transversely across the ends of the central rooms, with the
longer axes running east and west. Except the central room, which was
three stories in height, all the rooms were two stories above the
ground. The northeastern and southeastern corners of the structure have
fallen, and large blocks of the material of which they were composed are
strewn upon the ground in the vicinity. It is probable that the
destruction of these corners prior to that of the rest of the building
was due to the disintegration of minor walls connected with them and
extending, as shown by the ridges on the ground plan, northward from the
northeastern corner and eastward from the southeastern corner. These
walls doubtless formed part of the original structure and were probably
erected with it; otherwise the corners of the main structure would not
have been torn out or strained enough to fall before the rest of the
building was affected.

It is not likely that the main building originally stood alone as at
present. On the contrary there is every reason to suppose that it was
connected with other buildings about 75 feet east of it, now marked by a
bit of standing wall shown on the map (plate LI), and probably also with
a small structure about 170 feet south of it, shown in plate LIV. These
connections seem to have been by open courts inclosed by walls and not
by continuous buildings. The court east of the ruin is well marked by
the contours and seems to have been entered by a gateway or opening at
its southeastern corner.


It is probable that the area immediately adjacent to the ruin, and now
covered by mounds, carried buildings of the same time with the main
structure and was occupied contemporaneously with it or nearly so. This
area, well marked on the map, measures about 400 feet north and south,
and 240 feet east and west. It is not rectangular, although the eastern
and western sides, now marked by long ridges, are roughly parallel. The
northeastern corner does not conform to a rectangular plan, and the
southern side is not more than half closed by the low ridge which
extends partly across it. This area is doubtless the one measured in
1776, by Padre Font, whose description, was copied by later writers, and
whose measurements were applied by Humboldt and others to the ruin
itself. Font gave his measurements as those of a circumscribing wall,
and his inference has been adopted by many, in fact most, later writers.
A circumscribing wall is an anomalous feature, in the experience of the
writer, and a close inspection of the general map will show that Font's
inference is hardly justified by the condition of the remains today. It
seems more likely that the area in question was covered by groups of
buildings and rows of rooms, connected by open courts, and forming an
outline sometimes regular for a considerable distance, but more often
irregular, after the manner of pueblo structures today. The long north
and south ridge which forms the southeastern corner of the area, with
other ridges extending westward, is quite wide on top, wide enough to
accommodate a single row of rooms of the same width as those of the
ruin, and it is hardly reasonable to suppose that a wall would be built
10 or 12 feet wide when one of 4 feet would serve every purpose to which
it could possibly be put. Furthermore, the supposition of an inclosing
wall does not leave any reasonable explanation of the transverse ridges
above mentioned, nor of the long ridge which runs southward from the
southeastern corner of the ruin.

The exterior walls rise to a height of from 20 to 25 feet above the
ground. This height accommodated two stories, but the top of the wall is
now 1 to 2 feet higher than the roof level of the second story. The
middle room or space was built up three stories high and the walls are
now 28 to 30 feet above the ground level. The tops of the walls, while
rough and much eroded, are approximately level. The exterior surface of
the walls is rough, as shown in the illustrations, but the interior
walls of the rooms are finished with a remarkable degree of smoothness,
so much so as to attract the attention of everyone who has visited the
ruin. Mange, who saw the ruin with Padre Font in 1697, says the walls
shine like Puebla pottery, and they still retain this finish wherever
the surface has not cracked off. This fine finish is shown in a number
of illustrations herewith. The walls are not of even thickness. At the
ground level the exterior wall is from 3½ to 4½ feet thick, and in one
place at the southern end of the eastern wall, is a trifle over 5 feet
thick. The interior walls are from 3 to 4 feet thick at base. At the top
the walls are reduced to about 2 feet thick, partly by setbacks or steps
at the floor levels, partly by exterior batter, the interior wall
surface being approximately vertical. Some writers, noting the
inclination of the outer wall surface, and not seeing the interior, have
inferred that the walls leaned considerably away from the perpendicular.
This inference has been strengthened, in some cases, by an examination
of the interior, for the inner wall surface, while finely finished, is
not by any means a plane surface, being generally concave in each room;
yet a line drawn from floor level to floor level would be very nearly
vertical. The building was constructed by crude methods, thoroughly
aboriginal in character, and there is no uniformity in its measurements.
The walls, even in the same room, are not of even thickness, the floor
joists were seldom on a straight line, and measurements made at similar
places, e.g., the two ends of a room, seldom agree.

[Illustration: Pl. LV: West Front of Casa Grande Ruin.]

A series of precise measurements gives the following results: Outside
eastern wall, at level 3 feet above center of depressed area adjoining
the ruin on the east, 59 feet; western wall at same level, 59 feet 1
inch; northern and southern walls, at same level, 42 and 43 feet
respectively. These measurements are between points formed by the
intersection of the wall lines; the northeastern and southeastern
corners having fallen, the actual length of standing wall is less. At
the level stated the northern wall measures but 34 feet 4 inches, and
the southern wall 36 feet 10 inches. A similar irregularity is found in
the interior measurements of rooms. The middle room is marked by an
exceptional departure from regularity in shape and dimensions. Both the
east and west walls are bowed eastward, making the western wall convex
and the eastern wall concave in reference to the room.

Precise measurements of the middle room at the second floor level, 8
feet above the base previously stated, are as follows: Eastern side, 24
feet 8½ inches; western side, 24 feet 2 inches; northern side, 9 feet 3½
inches; southern side, 9 feet 1 inch. The eastern room is a little more
regular, but there is a difference of 11 inches between the measurements
of the northern and southern ends. A similar difference is found in the
western room, amounting there to 6 inches. The northern and southern
rooms do not afford as good bases for comparison, as a corner is missing
in each; but measurements to a point where the interior wall surfaces
would intersect if prolonged, show variations of from 6 inches to a
foot. The statement that the ruin exhibits exceptional skill in
construction on the part of the builders, is not, therefore, supported
by facts.

_Detailed Description._

The Casa Grande ruin is often referred to as an adobe structure. Adobe
construction, if we limit the word to its proper meaning, consists of
the use of molded brick, dried in the sun but not baked. Adobe, as thus
defined, is very largely used throughout the southwest, more than nine
out of ten houses erected by the Mexican population and many of those
erected by the Pueblo Indians being so constructed; but, in the
experience of the writer, it is never found in the older ruins, although
seen to a limited extent in ruins known to belong to a period subsequent
to the Spanish conquest. Its discovery, therefore, in the Casa Grande
would be important; but no trace of it can be found. The walls are
composed of huge blocks of earth, 3 to 5 feet long, 2 feet high, and 3
to 4 feet thick. These blocks were not molded and placed in situ, but
were manufactured in place. The method adopted was probably the erection
of a framework of canes or light poles, woven with reeds or grass,
forming two parallel surfaces or planes, some 3 or 4 feet apart and
about 5 feet long. Into this open box or trough was rammed clayey earth
obtained from the immediate vicinity and mixed with water to a heavy
paste. When the mass was sufficiently dry, the framework was moved along
the wall and the operation repeated. This is the typical pisé or
rammed-earth construction, and in the hands of skilled workmen it
suffices for the construction of quite elaborate buildings. As here
used, however, the appliances were rude and the workmen unskilled. An
inspection of the illustrations herewith, especially of plate LV,
showing the western wall of the ruin, will indicate clearly how this
work was done. The horizontal lines, marking what may be called courses,
are very well defined, and, while the vertical joints are not apparent
in the illustration, a close inspection of the wall itself shows them.
It will be noticed that the builders were unable to keep straight
courses, and that occasional thin courses were put in to bring the wall
up to a general level. This is even more noticeable in other parts of
the ruin. It is probable that as the walls rose the exterior surface was
smoothed with the hand or with some suitable implement, but it was not
carefully finished like the interior, nor was it treated like the latter
with a specially prepared material. The material employed for the walls
was admirably suited for the purpose, being when dry almost as hard as
sandstone and practically indestructible. The manner in which such walls
disintegrate under atmospheric influences has already been set forth in
detail in this report. An inhabited structure with walls like these
would last indefinitely, provided occupancy continued and a few slight
repairs, which would accompany occupancy, were made at the conclusion of
each rainy season. When abandoned, however, sapping at the ground level
would commence, and would in time level all the walls; yet in the two
centuries which have elapsed since Padre Kino's visit--and the Casa
Grande was then a ruin--there has been but little destruction, the
damage done by relic hunters in the last twenty years being in fact much
greater than that wrought by the elements in the preceding two
centuries. The relic hunters seem to have had a craze for wood, as the
lintels of openings and even the stumps of floor joists have been torn
out and carried away. The writer has been reliably informed that as late
as twenty years ago a portion of the floor or roof in one of the rooms
was still in place, but at the present day nothing is left of the floors
except marks on the vertical walls, and a few stumps of floor joists,
deeply imbedded in the walls, and so high that they can not be seen from
the ground.

[Illustration: Pl. LVI: Interior Wall of Casa Grande Ruin.]

The floors of the rooms, which were also the roofs of the rooms below,
were of the ordinary pueblo type, employed also today by the American
and Mexican population of this region. In the Casa Grande ruin a series
of light joists or heavy poles was laid across the shorter axis of the
room at the time the walls were erected; these poles were 3 to 6 inches
in diameter, not selected or laid with unusual care, as the holes in the
side walls which mark the places they occupied are seldom in a straight
line, and their shape often indicates that the poles were quite crooked.
Better executed examples of the same construction are often found in
northern ruins. Over the primary series of joists was placed a layer of
light poles, 1½ to 2 inches in diameter, and over these reeds and coarse
grass were spread. The prints of the light poles can still be seen on
the walls. The floor or roof was then finished with a heavy coating of
clay, trodden down solid and smoothed to a level. A number of blocks of
this final floor finish, bearing the impress of the grass and reeds,
were found in the middle room. There is usually a setback in the wall at
the floor level, but this practice was not followed in all the rooms.

The position of the floor is well marked in all cases by holes in the
wall, into which beams projected sometimes to a depth of 3 feet, and by
a peculiar roughness of the wall. Plate LVI shows two floor levels, both
set back slightly and the upper one strongly marked by the roughness
mentioned. This roughness apparently marks the thickness of the floor in
some cases, yet in others it is much too thick for a floor and must have
had some other purpose. The relation of these marks to the beam holes
suggests that in some cases there was a low and probably narrow bench
around two or more sides of the room; such benches are often found in
the present Pueblo villages.

The walls of the northern room are fairly well preserved, except in the
northeastern corner, which has fallen. The principal floor beams were of
necessity laid north and south, across the shorter axis of the room,
while the secondary series of poles, 1½ inches in diameter, have left
their impression in the eastern and western walls. There is no setback
in the northern wall at the first floor level, though there is a very
slight one in the southern wall; none appears in the eastern and western
walls. Yet in the second roof level there is a double setback of 9 and 5
inches in the western wall, and the northern wall has a setback of 9
inches, and the top of the wall still shows the position of nearly all
the roof timbers. This suggests--and the suggestion is supported by
other facts to be mentioned later--that the northern room was added
after the completion of the rest of the edifice.

The second roof or third floor level, the present top of the wall, has a
decided pitch outward, amounting to nearly 5 inches. Furthermore, the
outside of the northern wall of the middle room, above the second roof
level of the northern room, is very much eroded. This indicates that the
northern room never had a greater height than two stories, but probably
the walls were crowned with low parapets. In this connection it may be
stated that a calculation of the amount of débris within the building
and for a distance of 10 feet about it in every direction, the interior
floor level being determined by excavation, showed an amount of material
which, added to the walls, would raise them less than 3 feet; in other
words, the present height of the walls is very nearly the maximum

Subsequent to this examination the ruin was cleared out by contractors
for the Government in carrying out a plan for the repair and
preservation of the ruin, and it was reported that in one of the rooms a
floor level below that previously determined was found, making an
underground story or cellar. This would but slightly modify the
foregoing conclusion, as the additional débris would raise the walls
less than a foot, and in the calculation no account was taken of
material removed from the surface of the walls.

In support of the hypothesis that the second roof level of the northern
room was the top roof, it may be stated that there is no trace of an
opening in the walls above that level, except on the western side. There
was a narrow opening in the western corner, but so well filled that it
is hardly perceptible. Doubtless it formed a niche or opening in the

The southern wall on the first roof level still preserves very clear and
distinct impressions of the rushes which were used in the construction
of the roof. In some cases these impressions occur 3 inches above the
top of the floor beams, in others directly above them, showing that the
secondary series of poles was very irregularly placed. In the eastern
and western walls the impressions of rushes are also clear, but there
they are parallel with the wall surface. The rushes were about the
thickness of a pencil.

The floor joists were 3 to 4 inches in diameter, and as a rule projected
into the wall but 5 to 8 inches. In some places in the northern wall,
however, they extended into the masonry as much as 3 feet 3 inches. The
beams were doubtless cut by guess, at the place where trees of the
requisite size were found, according to the method employed by the
Pueblo Indians today, and if, as supposed, the northern room was built
after the rest of the structure, the excess in length would necessarily
be found in the northern wall.

In the roof construction previously described rushes or canes formed the
third member, and in the northern room the wall is rough immediately
above the impressions of rushes, and projects 8 to 12 inches. This
feature is well marked; it may be a remnant of the clay covering of
floor or roof, but it is almost too thick for that and possibly marks
the position of a low bench, as previously suggested. The bottoms of the
openings come just to or a trifle above the top of this marking.

[Illustration: Pl. LVII: Blocked Opening in West Wall.]

The walls of the western room were smoothly finished and the finish is
well preserved, but here, as in the northern room, the exterior wall of
the middle room was not finished above the second roof level, and there
is no doubt that two stories above the ground were the maximum height of
the western rooms, excluding the parapet. The eastern wall presents a
marked double convexity while the western wall is comparatively straight
in a horizontal line, but markedly concave vertically above the first
roof level. Below this level it is straight. The floor beams were from 3
to 6 inches in diameter. The marks in the eastern wall show that the
beams projected into it to a nearly uniform depth of 1 foot 4 inches. In
the western wall, however, the depth varies from 1 to 3 feet. The beams
which entered the eastern wall were very irregularly placed, the line
rising in the center some 3 or 4 inches. The beams of the second roof
level show the same irregularity and in the same place; possibly this
was done to correct a level, for the same feature is repeated in the
eastern room.

The walls of the southern room are perhaps better finished and less well
constructed than any others in the building. The beam holes in the
southern wall are regular, those in the northern wall less so. The beams
used averaged a little smaller than those in the other rooms, and there
is no trace whatever in the overhanging wall of the use of rushes or
canes in the construction of the roof above. The walls depart
considerably from vertical plane surfaces; the southern wall inclines
fully 12 inches inward, while in the northeastern corner the side of a
doorway projects fully 3 inches into the room. The broken condition of
the southern wall indicates carelessness in construction. The weakest
point in pisé construction is of course the framing around openings. In
the southern wall the openings, being doubtless the first to give way,
are now almost completely obliterated. In the center of the wall there
were two openings, one above the other, but not a trace of lintels now
remains, and the eastern half of the wall now stands clear from other
walls. Probably there was also an opening near the southwestern corner
of the room, but the lintels giving way the wall above fell down and, as
shown on the ground plan (plate LII), filled up the opening. This could
happen only with exceptionally light lintels and exceptionally bad
construction of walls; one of the large blocks, before described as
composing the wall, must have rested directly above the opening, which
was practically the same size as the block.

The walls of the eastern room were well finished, and, except the
western wall, in fairly good preservation. The floor beams were not
placed in a straight line, but rise slightly near the middle, as noted
above. The finish of some of the openings suggests that the floor was
but 3 or 4 inches above the beams, and that the roughened surface,
already mentioned, was not part of it. The northern wall of this room
seems to have run through to the outside, on the east, as though at one
time it formed the exterior wall of the structure; and the eastern wall
of the building north of this room is separated from the rest of the
wall by a wide crack, as though it had been built against a smooth
surface. The western wall of this room shows clearly that in the
construction of the building the floor beams were laid on the tops of
the walls, and that the intervening spaces were filled with small lumps
of material up to a level with or a little above the upper surface of
the beams, the regular construction with large blocks being then

In the middle room many blocks bearing the imprint of grass and rushes
were found, and the rough marking of the walls just above the floor
beams is covered in places in this room with masonry composed of these
grass marked blocks projecting some distance into the room, indicating
that in this room at least they mark the position of a bench. These
blocks occupy the whole thickness of the setback at the second roof
level--perhaps an indication that the upper story was added after the
building was occupied.


The Casa Grande was well provided with doorways and other openings
arranged in pairs one above the other. There were doorways from each
room into each adjoining room, except that the middle room was entered
only from the east. Some of the openings were not used and were closed
with blocks of solid masonry built into them long prior to the final
abandonment of the ruin.

The middle room had three doorways, one above the other, all opening
eastward. The lowest doorway opened directly on the floor level, and was
2 feet wide, with vertical sides. Its height could not be determined, as
the top was completely broken away and merged with the opening above,
but the bottom, which is also the floor level, is 6 feet 9 inches below
the level of the first roof beams. The doorway of the second story is
preserved only on the northern side. Its bottom, still easily
distinguishable, is 1 foot 6 inches above the bottom of the floor beams.
It was not over 2 feet wide and was about 4 feet high. The upper doorway
is still well preserved, except that the lintels are gone. It is about
three inches narrower at the top than at the bottom and about 4 feet

In addition to its three doorways, all in the eastern wall, the middle
tier of rooms was well provided with niches and holes in the walls, some
of them doubtless utilized as outlooks. On the left of the upper doorway
are two holes, a foot apart, about 4 inches in diameter, and smoothly
finished. Almost directly above these some 3 feet, and about 2 feet
higher than the top of the door, there are two similar holes. Near the
southern end of the room in the same wall there is another round opening
a trifle larger and about 4½ feet above the floor level. In the western
wall there are two similar openings, and there is one each in the
northern and southern walls. All these openings are circular, of small
diameter, and are in the upper or third story, as shown on the
elevations herewith, figure 330. The frequency of openings in the upper
or third story and their absence on lower levels, except the specially
arranged openings described later, supports the hypothesis that none of
the rooms except the middle one were ever more than two stories high and
that the wall remains above the second roof level represent a low

[Illustration: Pl. LVIII: Square Opening in South Room.]

In the second story, or middle room of the middle tier, there were no
openings except the doorway in the eastern wall and two small orifices
in the western wall. In the middle of this wall there is a niche about
18 inches below the roof, and a foot below this is a round-cornered
opening measuring about 7 by 8 inches extending through the wall. This
opening was on a level with another in the western wall of the western
room, and commanded a far-reaching though contracted view toward the
west. Below and a little northward is a similar though somewhat larger
opening corresponding to an opening in the western wall of the western

[Illustration: Fig. 330.--Elevations of walls, middle room.]

The upper doorway in the western wall of the western room is much broken
out, but the top can still be traced. It was 4 feet 5½ inches in height
and 1 foot 11 inches wide at top. The opening was blocked by solid
masonry built into it and completely filling it up to within 10 inches
of the top. This upper space, which is on a level with the upper hole in
the middle room, seems to have been purposely left to allow an outlook
from that room. The filling block is level on top and flush with the
wall inside and out. At a height of 12 inches above the lower edge of
the floor beams below it, and perhaps 3 inches above the floor, is the
lower edge of a roughly square opening a foot across, cut out from the
block itself and inclined slightly downward toward the exterior. It was
plastered and smoothly finished. This opening corresponds to the one in
the middle room already described. This filling block, with the orifice
under discussion, is shown in figure 330, and in detail in plate LVII.

The lower doorway, shown in figure 330, is much broken out, and although
now but 2 feet 1½ inches wide at its narrowest part, no trace of the
original surface remains on the northern side. The opening was 4 feet 6½
inches high and probably less than 2 feet wide, with vertical sides.

In the western wall of the southern room there was but one opening. This
is about 9 inches square, finished smoothly, and occurs in the upper
room, about 6 feet 5 inches above the floor. It is shown in plate LVIII.
The doorway between this room and the western room was smoothly finished
and is in good order except the top, which is entirely gone. It was
covered with double lintels made of poles 2 to 4 inches in diameter, the
lower series about 3 inches above the top of the door. The opening was
originally filled in like that described above, leaving only 8 or 10
inches of the upper part open. The lower part of the block was pierced
by a square hole, like that in the western room, but this has weathered
or been broken out and the block has slipped down, so that now its top
is 1 foot 5½ inches below what was formerly the top of the opening. The
top of the filling block is still smooth and finished and shows across
its entire width a series of prints probably of flat sticks about an
inch and a half wide, though, possibly these are marks of some finishing
tool. The marks run north and south.

The opening below the one just described was so much filled up at the
time of examination that none of its features could be determined,
except that it was bridged by two tiers of sticks of the usual size as
lintels. The subsequent excavation before referred to, however,
apparently disclosed an opening similar to the one described, and, like
it, filled nearly to the top with a large block.

A little west of the middle of the northern wall there are three niches,
arranged side by side and about 6½ feet above the first roof beams. The
niches are 10 inches high, a foot wide, and about a foot deep, and are
about 8 inches apart. They are smoothly finished and plastered, but were
roughly made.

The eastern opening in the northern wall, opening into the east room, is
well preserved except the top, which is missing. It measured 4 feet 2½
inches in height and 1 foot 11 inches wide at the bottom, the top being
nearly an inch narrower. It carried two tiers of lintels of medium size.

The gap in the southern wall of the southern room, shown in the plan,
though now open from the ground up, represents the location of two
doorways, one above the other. Remains of both of these can still be
seen on the ends of the walls. No measurements can be obtained. The
large fallen block near the southwestern corner of the room, which
undoubtedly slipped down from above, shows a finished surface at the
ground level inside, but above it no trace of an opening can be seen,
possibly because the ends of the walls above are much eroded.

[Illustration: Pl. LIX: Remains of Lintels.]

The upper opening in the eastern wall of the eastern room was apparently
capped with a single lintel composed of five sticks 4 to 6 inches in
diameter laid level on the top of a course of masonry. The bottom of the
opening is filled either with washed-down material or with the remains
of a block such as that previously described. This opening is the most
irregular one in the building, the top being nearly 4 inches narrower
than the bottom, but the northern side of the opening is vertical, the
southern side only being inclined inward. The opening was 4 feet 11
inches high and 1 foot 8½ inches wide at the bottom. The opening
immediately below that described, which was the ground floor entrance
from the east, is so much broken out that no evidence remains of its
size and character. There appears to have been only one row of lintel

The eastern opening in the southern wall of the northern room is well
preserved, the lintels having been torn out by relic hunters without
much destruction of the surrounding masonry. It was neatly finished, and
its bottom, was probably a little above the first roof level. The edges
of the openings were made straight with flat sticks, either used as
implements or incorporated into the structure, and forming almost
perfectly straight edges. Marks of the same method of construction or
finish are apparent in all the other openings, but the remains are not
so well preserved as in this instance. Possibly the immediate lintels of
openings were formed of thin flat sticks, as the lintel poles are often
some inches above the top of the opening. In this opening the supporting
lintel was formed of a number of poles 2 to 4 inches in diameter,
irregularly placed, sometimes two or three in vertical series with very
little filling between them. This construction has been characterized as
a Norman arch. The opening was originally 1 foot 11 inches at the top
and 4 feet 6 inches high. The bottom is 1½ inches wider than the top.

The upper opening in the western end of the southern wall is much like
that just described. A small fragment of masonry above the lintel
remains, and this is within a quarter of an inch of the top of the
opening. Above the opening there was a series of rough lintel poles, 3
to 5 inches in diameter, arranged in three tiers with 4 to 6 inches of
filling between them. Prints of these sticks are left in the wall and
show that some of them were quite crooked. Probably they were of
mesquite, obtained from the immediate vicinity. The edges of the
openings were finished with flat sticks, like those described, and its
bottom was 6 inches to a foot above the floor. The height of the opening
was 4 feet 3 inches and its width at the top 2 feet, at the bottom 2
feet 1½ inches.

The opening immediately below the last described is filled with débris
to the level of the lintel. Above this, however, there is a series of
three tiers of sticks with 6 to 8 inches of masonry between them
vertically, sometimes laid side by side, sometimes separated by a foot
of masonry. Some of these lintel poles, as well as those of the opening
above it, extend 3 feet into the wall, others only a few inches. The
lower sides or bottoms of the holes are washed with pink clay, the same
material used for surfacing the interior walls. Perhaps this was merely
the wetting used to make succeeding courses of clay stick better. This
opening is shown in plate LIX.

Near the middle of the northern wall there are two openings, one above
the other. The upper opening was finished in the same manner as those
already described. But two tiers of poles show above it, though the top
is well preserved, and another tier may be buried in the wall. There are
indications that the opening was closed by a block about 2 feet thick
and flush with the outside. The height of the opening was 4 feet 5
inches, width at top 1 foot 4½ inches, and at the bottom 1 foot 10
inches. It narrows a little from north to south.

The lower opening is so much broken out that little remains to show its
character. There is a suggestion that the opening was only 2 feet high,
and there were probably three tiers of lintels above the opening, the
top of which was 2½ feet below the roof beams, but the evidence is not
so clear as in the other instances.

In the middle of the western wall, at a height of 5 feet 8 inches above
the first roof level, there is a large, roughly circular opening or
window, 14 inches in diameter. This is shown in plate LX. It is smoothly
finished, and enlarges, slightly, outward.


As before stated, any conclusions drawn from a study of the Casa Grande
itself, and not checked by examination of other similar or analogous
ruins, can not be considered as firmly established, yet they have a
suggestive value.

From the character of the remains it seems probable that the site of the
ruins here designated as the Casa Grande group was occupied a long time,
not as a whole, but piecemeal as it were, one part being occupied and
abandoned while some other part was being built up, and that this ebb
and flow of population through many generations reached its final period
in the occupation of the structure here termed the Casa Grande ruin. It
is probable that this structure did not exist at the time the site was
first occupied, and still more probable that all or nearly all the other
sites were abandoned for some time before the structure now called the
Casa Grande was erected. It is also probable that after the abandonment
of the Casa Grande the ground about it was still worked by its former
population, who temporarily occupied, during the horticultural season,
farming outlooks located near it.

[Illustration: Pl. LX: Circular Opening in North Room.]

The methods employed in the construction of the buildings of the Casa
Grande were thoroughly aboriginal and characteristically rude in
application. A fair degree of adaptability to purpose and environment is
seen, indicating that the Casa Grande was one, and not the first,
building of a series constructed by the people who erected it and by
their ancestors, but the degree of skill exhibited and amount of
ingenuity shown in overcoming difficulties do not compare with that
found in many northern ruins. As architects, the inhabitants of the Casa
Grande did not occupy the first rank among pueblo-builders.

It is probable that the Casa Grande ruin as we see it today shows very
nearly the full height of the structure as it stood when it was
abandoned. The middle tier of rooms rose to a height of three stories;
the others were but two stories high. It is also probable that the
building was enlarged after being once completed and occupied. At one
time it probably consisted of four rooms on the ground plan, each two
stories high. The northern tier, of rooms was added afterward, and
probably also the third room in the central tier.

The Casa Grande was undoubtedly built and occupied by a branch of the
Pueblo race, or by an allied people. Who these people were it is
impossible to determine finally from the examination of one ruin, but
all the evidence at hand suggests that they were the ancestors of the
present Pima Indians, now found in the vicinity and known to have
formerly been a pueblo-building tribe. This conclusion is supported by
the Pima traditions, as collected by Mr. Bandelier, who is intimately
acquainted with the documentary history of the southwest, and whose
knowledge of the Pima traditions is perhaps greater than that of anyone
else now living. In his various writings he hints at this connection,
and in one place he declares explicitly that the Casa Grande is a Pima
structure. None of the internal evidence of the ruin is at variance with
this conclusion. On the contrary, the scanty evidence is in accord with
the hypothesis that the Casa Grande was erected and occupied by the
ancestors of the Pima Indians.


Adobe defined                                            309
Age of Casa Grande                                  299, 318

Bandelier, A. F., Description of Casa Grande by          297
  Pima Casa-Grande tradition by                          319
Bartlett, J. R., cited                              296, 297

Casa Grande, Masonry of                                  306
Chichilticale, Description of                            295
Cushing, F. H., Allusion by, to Casa Grande              297
  southwestern sun-temples                               305

Defensive motive of Casa Grande                          307
Depressions, Artificial, at Casa Grande                  303
Dimensions of Casa Grande                                307
Doorways in Casa Grande                                  314

Emory, W. H., Visit of, to Casa Grande                   297

Fewkes, J. W., Description of Casa Grande by             298
Floors of Casa Grande                                    311
Font, Pedro, Account of Casa Grande by                   296
  on dimensions of Casa Grande                           307

Humboldt, A. von, on dimensions of Casa Grande           308

Johnston, Capt., Visit of to Casa Grande                 297

Kino, Eusebio, Visit of, to Casa Grande                  296

Lintels in Casa Grande                                   317

Mange, Juan M., on Casa Grande                           296
Masonry of Casa Grande                                   309
Mindeleff, V., on pueblo farming outlooks                303
Mound surrounding Casa Grande                            300

Photographs of Casa Grande compared                      300
Pima, Casa Grande built by the                           319
  of pueblos                                             300
  Casa Grande                                            300

Rooms of Casa Grande, Dimensions of                      307

Site of Casa Grande, Character of                        306

Ternaux-Compans, Translation of Castaneda by             296
Thrashing Floors in Verde valley                         305
Tradition of Pima, of Casa Grande                        319

Walls of Casa Grande                           308, 300, 313
Window-Openings in Casa Grande                           314
Woodwork of Casa Grande                        310, 312, 313

       *       *       *       *       *


...no English translation has yet been published.)
  _closing parenthesis missing in original_

Bancroft gives a partial translation in op. cit., p. 623, note,
  _original reads_ p. 623, note),

thrashing floors
  _spelling as in original (text and Index)_

Casa Grande / Masonry of        306
  _text reads_ 360]

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Casa Grande Ruin - Thirteenth Annual Report of the Bureau of Ethnology to the - Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, 1891-92, - Government Printing Office, Washington, 1896, pages 289-318" ***

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