WHAT WAS TAUGHT?
[Southwest Cultural & Architectural Content]
Throughout his instruction and especially in his teaching video, Woodson compared ancient and modern Southwest cultural concepts as well. These included the Southwest, language, shelter, occupation, religion, art (crafts), religion, clothing, sports, education, government (tribes), and architecture. Some of the major concepts are described.
Southwest:Initially, Woodson discovered that students did not understand the term "Southwest." He showed examples of old maps where the Hohokam and Anasazi lived in the Southwest territories. On a modern map of the United States, he pointed out the states of Colorado, New Mexico, Texas, Arizona, Utah, and even California.
Language: At the beginning of his teaching video, Woodson presented a riddle to students. He asked them to find messages from The Ancient Ones in South Mountain Park, the place where he started his filming. After a short stroll, sat down and told them stories. When he finally got up, students could see petroglyphs where he was sitting. Later in the video, Woodson pointed out modern examples of Hohokam symbolic messages used as decorations around a bridge, along the highway, and in commercial products (flute player, lizard, man-in-the- maze) in Phoenix.
Tribes: Woodson then asked students to name their cooperative groups and to distinguish themselves with tattoos (clown makeup) based on symbols (something that stands for another thing). Students enjoyed painting such symbols as suns on their faces and spiders on their hands.
Occupation & Crafts: Woodson's teaching video and photographs revealed pictures of woven mats and baskets, which the early Hohokam People used in their lifestyle (hunters and gatherers). At the Desert Botanical Gardens, the guide introduced the Hohokam activities of braiding agave rope and stripping yucca painting brushes, and coiling baskets. The Hohokam later became farmers (agriculture) and made canals with digging sticks for irrigation. Woodson presented an entire lesson on pinched pots and stylization. Other crafts that the Desert Botanical Gardens included were clothing (woven fabric and shoes) and food preparation (grinding mesquiteflour with a metate from the Desert Botanical Gardens).
Architecture. Woodson defined architecture as "the art of building structures, especially the ones in which we can live. Anthropologists use the word shelter as a protection from wind, rain, heat, and animals. Shelters are temporary, moveable, or permanent structures." More can be said about a structure--a three-dimensional assemblage of parts to form a whole (building). He later added, "Culture shapes housing but housing can also shape culture (Abrams, 1987). Housing as part of an entire way of life."
The Desert and its Materials: At the Desert Botanical Garden, Woodson found that students did not understand the concept of desert. He informed them that the desert is determined by the amount of rainfall. People in the low desert build with available clay, saguaro ribs, and short trees (mesquite and ironwood). He guided students to see the natural materials and structures. He contrasted the People of the high desert (Anazasi) who live near mountains and use stones and larger trees (pine) in a video. Floor plans. In his teaching video, Woodson explained how today we live in square houses and look at square televisions. The Hohokam, in contrast, lived in round houses that are more natural. He showed examples of round floor plans from the Pueblo Grande Museum in Phoenix on square blueprints designed by modern architects.
Foundation. Woodson constantly stressed that students build their houses thicker at the bottom--foundation, so the walls have enough support to stand. The video example was a three-story clay observatory, called Casa Grande. The Hohokam built the structure over a large platform mound and the walls were at least five feet thick at its foundation. Pit house: In the video, Woodson invited students inside a reconstructed house in Phoenix. At the entrance, he stepped down to show that it was half underground. In a photograph, a pit house showed a cross section of layers of logs, sticks, plant filler and mud to cover the walls. Woodson asked a student to lie on a table to show that these people really only slept inside the 18" house. He later suggested that students include clay people for proportion to show their relationship to their house.
Cliff dwellings: Woodson also introduced the concept of cliff dwellings (multiple apartments), which the Spanish called a pueblo (village). The video showed Anasazi sites at Canyon DeChelley on the Navajo Reservation. He explained the basic building method as a simple stone construction. In his classroom, he also displayed architectural photographs and clay model examples from these ancient peoples and he constantly referred to them.
Roof cross layering and cross section: Woodson showed an example of a cross layered roof, recently restored in the video from the Salado site. Another photograph also showed the several layers of logs & sticks that crossed each other. A layer of dried plant filler came next, and on top was a layer of mud. Students wanted to know why the roof was not complete. They learned that the incomplete view was called a cross section.
What is caliche and where does it come from? Woodson discovered that students assumed that any form of mud can be used to build houses. He explained that desert clay (caliche) tends to be extremely hard and dense. Also known as adobe, caliche is not fired but occasionally must be patched to keep water out. Students met a professional "Mud Slinger," who repaired clay walls at the Pueblo Grande Museum.