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Rain and Fertility Symbolism in the Rock Art and Cultural Landscape of the Trincheras sites of Northwestern Sonora by Julio Amador Bech
Trincheras archaeological sites of northwestern Sonora (A.D. 200 – 1450) are located in the lower Sonoran Desert, along the Magdalena, Altar, and Asunción/Concepción river drainages and adjacent volcanic hills. The Trincheras tradition is characterized by terraced hill-sides with stairs, ramps, and pathways connecting the terraces (trincheras). On the summits are stone alignments serving as observatories with views to the heavens and surrounding landscape. In the foothills are bedrock mortars and metates. On the adjacent plains are plazas, rock alignments, shallow pithouses, roasting pits for cooking agave, and domestic debris, such as shell artifacts, lithic debitage, and potsherds representative of the Trincheras complex. The terraced hills and adjacent plains contain thousands of petroglyphs. These rock engravings are concentrated in areas with heavily patinated rocks and where creeks form during the rainy season. Examined collectively and in conjunction with ethnohistoric, ethnographic, and astronomical data, we suggest Trincheras archaeology reveals a complex cultural system that provided the community with collective goals transcending the immediate needs of food, shelter, and defense. The archaeological remains within their landscape settings are microcosmic expressions of a larger cosmological scheme involving increased rituals related to rain production and fertility. They demonstrate the cultural uniqueness that human action on the landscape adopted in these sites and reflect the complex cultural relations that this tradition had with its neighbors from northwestern and western Mexico as well as with the American Southwest, such as the Hohokam and Pueblo. Further, Trincheras archaeology manifests important cultural traits associated traditionally with the complex cosmologies and mythologies of Mesoamerica, but that are earlier expressed in Archaic period rock art that can be found northward, in the American Southwest.

Mar 20, 2023 07:00 PM in Arizona

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