Hohokam Shell Jewelry

The prehistoric Hohokam are known for their extensive canals in the Phoenix Basin. They are also known for their kiln-fired ceramic pottery and their legacy of pecked-petroglyphs found and appreciated valley wide. Many are unaware the Hohokam were proficient at jewelry-making using shells from the Gulf of California. Historian Rose Houk states, “…the craft took on aspects of an industry… the exquisitely finished pieces were exported to…neighbors- the Anasazi [now Ancestral Puebloans], Mogollon, and Sinagua…so widespread was the trade…the Hohokam are regarded as shell merchants.” The Hohokam made a 400-mile, round-trip-journey on foot collecting their favorite shell, the Glycymeris, a bivalve clam. Archaeologist Ronald Beckwith states Hohokam used no fewer than sixty-two species of marine shells for their jewelry.