Peoples & Societies

Casas Grandes (Mogollon)

The Mogollon culture extended southward into the Mexican states of Chihuahua and northeastern Sonora. In Chihuahua, in the Casas Grandes valley of the northern Sierra, are ruins of an administrative and trading center that flourished from about 1150 to 1350 CE, after which the abandoned valley lands were occupied by the Suma Indians who who had migrated in from the east. Casas Grandes is Spanish for "great houses" and refers to the extensive, multi-storied ruins nearby.

Called Paquimé by a 16th-century Spanish explorer, the site has provided evidence of being an important contact in trade with Southwestern peoples to the north and Mesoamerican peoples to the south. Turquoise, marine shells, exotic birds, copper bells, and decorative pottery figured in the extensive trade of this center, which may have been founded by Aztec merchant groups from Mesoamerica. Casas Grandes polychrome vessels were traded as far as Mexico City and Colorado. Much like the Mogollon peoples to the north and east, the early Paquimé people probably constructed a cluster of pithouses around an open plaza, raising corn, beans, and squash on the flood plain of the Casas Grandes river immediately east of their village. They manufactured simple brown pottery, hunted wild game, and collected wild plants to supplement their agricultural production.

Adapted from

  • Carol Robbins, "Lidded Jar (1990.96.a-b.FA )," in Dallas Museum of Art: A Guide to the Collection, ed. Suzanne Kotz (Dallas: Dallas Museum of Art, 1997), 197.

  • Getty Vocabulary, TGN (Casas Grandes (inhabited place): TGN: 7033083)

  • Getty Vocabulary, TGN (Paquimé (deserted settlement): TGN: 7032428)

  • Kathy Windrow, Object Summary, Curatorial Remarks (dated September 1992, copy in Dallas Museum of Art Collections Records Object File, Confidential)

Web Resources

  • UNESCO
    Read about the Archaeological Zone of Paquimé, Casas Grandes.

  • National Park Service
    Read more about the National Monument at the Casas Grandes Ruins.