Cochise Tradition

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The Cochise Tradition (also Cochise Culture) refers to the southern archeological tradition of the four Southwestern Archaic Traditions, in the present day Southwestern United States.

The Cochise Tradition (? before 5000 to c. 200 BC) lasted for a very long time, with its earliest manifestations, known as Sulphur Spring, perhaps before 5000 BC. Its two later phases, the Chiricahua and San Pedro, are much better known. The Cochise Tradition was named after Lake Cochise, an ancient lake which is now Willcox Playa in Cochise County, Arizona. The Cochise Tradition appears to be ancestral to the prehistoric Mogollon (Mimbres) and Hohokam traditions.

The Cochise Tradition is part of the Picosa culture, which encapsulates the Archaic lifestyles of people from three locations with interconnected artifacts and lifestyles. It was named by Cynthia Irwin-Williams in the 1960s for those areas: Pinto Basin (PI), Cochise Tradition (CO) and San Jose (SA), which all together is "Picosa".[1]

Chiricahua phase[edit]

Chiricahua Cochise tools include a variety of projectile points and many seed-processing artifacts. The phase has been dated to between about 3500 and 1500 BC, but the chronology is open to doubt and the beginnings may be much earlier, and has been formulated on the basis of occupations in Ventana Cave, near Sells, Arizona, and from other locations in the state, as well as in western New Mexico.

San Pedro phase[edit]

San Pedro follows the Chiricahua in the southern Southwest, characterized by large projectile points with corner or side notches and straight or convex bases. Provisional radiocarbon dates have San Pedro flourishing from about 1500 to 200 BC. By this time, the Archaic population of the Southwest appears to have grown, with groups exploiting a wider range of environmental zones and sometimes living in larger, perhaps more permanent, settlements. Some San Pedro sites contain oval pithouses excavated about 1.6 ft. below the ground level, dwellings requiring sufficient effort to build that they must have been occupied for some time. Without question, some of San Pedro communities were cultivating maize and other crops.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Gibbon, Guy E., and Kenneth M. Ames. (1998). Archaeology of Prehistoric Native America: An Encyclopedia. New York: Taylor and Francis. p. 640. ISBN 0-8153-0725-X.


  • Cordell, Linda S. (1984). Prehistory of the Southwest. New York: Academic Press.
  • Fagan, Brian M. (2000). Ancient North America: The archaeology of a continent (3rd ed.). New York: Thames and Hudson.
  • Irwin-Williams, Cynthia. (1979). Post-pleistocene archeology, 7000-2000 B.C. In A. Ortiz (Ed.), Handbook of North American Indians: Southwest (Vol. 9, pp. 31–42). Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution.

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