Calculating Hohokam Domestic Architecture Building Costs to Test an Environmental Model of Architectural Changes

David Abbott, Douglas B. Craig, Hannah Zanotto, Veronica Judd, Brent Kober

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Studies of domestic architectural variation are rare in archaeological research, possibly because the essential methods remain underdeveloped. To encourage a comparative approach to explaining the construction differences in household dwellings, we designed and utilized objective and easily applied means to calculate labor costs for constructing a variety of domestic architectural styles in Hohokam society. We applied Abrams's (1989, 1994) approach, labelled architectural energetics, which converts architecture into its labor equivalents for building structures. By doing so, we derived standard units of measurement that promote comparative analysis. To demonstrate the method's utility, we turned to the pithouses and adobe surface structures at Pueblo Grande. We wanted to test whether the history of construction was driven by environmental degradation, and, in particular, a depletion over time of wood resources for home building (see Loendorf and Lewis 2017). Our analysis indicated that factors in addition to wood depletion likely contributed to the architectural changes at Pueblo Grande and across the Hohokam world.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)317-335
Number of pages19
JournalAmerican Antiquity
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2019


  • architectural styles
  • construction costs
  • environmental wood depletion
  • Hohokam
  • Pueblo Grande

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Archaeology
  • Museology


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