Thursday, July 5, 2012

Termites, and Beetles, and Hohokam Houses... OH MY!!!

Along the outside trail at Pueblo Grande Museum, visitors encounter two small clusters of replica Hohokam dwellings.  The Hohokam people mostly lived around the main platform mound when they inhabited this area, and the replica houses give guests a chance to see what life was like roughly one thousand years ago.  The houses are in two distinct styles from two distinct eras of Hohokam history.

The first series of homes along the trail are the adobe compound replicas.  The adobe compound houses are the more recent style, dating from 1150 AD to 1450 AD.  They are rectangular and, when compared to earlier models, used less wood for their construction.  Adobe compounds at Pueblo Grande could contain up to seventeen rooms and were shared by extended families.

Further down the trail are the pithouse replicas.  This style dates all the way back to 450 AD.  The pithouses are one room structures built over shallow pits in order to keep the home cooler during the summer months.  While both styles protect their inhabitants from the outside natural forces like heat, rain, and wind, there is destructive force that threatens to destroy their residences from the inside: insects. Termites and Powder-Post Beetles can cause serious structural damage, and so the houses must be fumigated to preserve them, ensure their stability, and preserve the safety of guests. 

Look at all of that delicious wood for termites to eat.

This is what we want to prevent from happening in the future.

On this day, my job was help to prepare the two houses open to the public for fumigation by removing all of the items inside them.  Since guests are allowed and encouraged to handle these replica household items, we did not want them to become covered in dangerous chemicals (which is a good thing, in my humble opinion).  The houses are filled with replica pots, fabrics, baskets, tools, and other authentic looking items. These were the items we needed to remove.

We loaded all of the items into boxes. We also had to be careful where we stuck our hands, just in case any desert creatures, like spiders or scorpions, were hiding in the pots, seeking refuge from the blistering sun.


We placed all of the boxes, and larger items that would not fit into boxes, in a hidden storage room.

Luckily, the boxes were not too heavy.
Safe and sound in storage.
After we finished moving everything, we swept the structures and moved some of the larger items, like metates, outside of the houses away from the walls to make room for the exterminators to work.

Almost done!

I am thankful we have modern techniques for eliminating pests in a quick and efficient manner.  It would be interesting to see how the Hohokam dealt with destructive insects since I doubt they sealed off their homes and fumigated them.

Clearing the houses was a quick but necessary job.  It is just one of the many little tasks that help keep the museum clean, safe, and functioning. The houses reopened in a few days, and they are cleaner than ever. Please come and check them out along with the rest of the ruins and exhibits at Pueblo Grande Museum!

Posted By Heather, Pueblo Grande Museum Summer Intern

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