Ancestral Pueblo: Greater Mogollon

Culture Name: Ancestral Pueblo: Greater Mogollon

First posted by C. Dean Wilson 2012.

The Mogollon culture as normally defined represents the largest and most diverse of the Southwest culture areas defined, covering large areas including most of the southern and western portions of New Mexico, much of western and southwest Arizona, the extreme western portion of Texas, and the northern part of the state of Chihuahua in Mexico. The concept of the Mogollon as a distinct Southwestern cultural manifestation was initially based on investigations by Haury (1936; 1936b) and shortly later elaborated based on extensive field investigations in the Mogollon Highlands conducted by Martin and others (Martin 1942; Martin 1979; Martin and Rinaldo 1951; Martin and Plog 1972; Martin and others 1952; Nesbitt 1939).

The area subsumed under the various branches of the Mogollon has since been extended to the mountains and river valleys of the Jornada region in Eastern New Mexico as well as valleys in the Chihuahua desert of Mexico. The assignments of such a wide area to the Mogollon culture area seems supported by observations relating to a long and distinct sequence of production of distinct "brown ware" utility pottery forms and pit house architecture. In the 1930s, the Mogollon was first recognized as one of two archaeological manifestations, along with the Hohokam, that were differentiated from the Anasazi or Pueblo culture as a distinct but related Southwestern co-tradition (Martin and Rinaldo 1951). The defintion of the Mogollon as a distinct cultural unit has long been viewed by some archaeologists as problematic and controversial (Reid and Whittlesey 2010). Given an apparent direct connection between the Mogollon and the southernmost Pueblo areas known to have occupied at the time of the Spanish arrival as well as a sometimes considered connection between the Mogollon and the Zuni. Given evidence of influence of the Mogollon on groups among the most southeastern historic Puebolan groups who spoke Piro and Tompiro during historic types, it is possible that some Mogollon groups including the Mimbres may have spoken Tanoan languages. Another historic connection may be with Southern Jornada Mogollon groups and the La Junta who historically occupied areas along the Rio Grande in Trans Pecos region of Texas although the specific language these groups spoke is not known.

The Mogollon is considered here as one several long-lived and distinct expressions of Pueblo culture. While not all the pottery traditions associated with the Mogollon occur in New Mexico, pottery associated with all four of the branches described here for the Mogollon do occur in portions of this state and thus are described here. Similarities between different regions appear to be strongest during the earliest (pithouse) components and weakest during latter (Pueblo) components. While pottery produced within different regions of the Mogollon during latter components tend to be very distinct, many of the associated pottery types are widely distributed and indicative of widespread contact and trade between different regions.

Related Branches