Besh-Ba-Gowah Ruins to light up for the holidays

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The annual “noche las luminarias” at the Besh-Ba-Gowah pueblo archaeological park in Globe, AZ, is Sunday, December 23, 2012 – complete with hot cider, coffee and cookies, live music and photos with Santa.

Admission is free.

The ruin walls are decorated with more than 1,600 luminaries for the Holidays.

No one alive today knows the true reasons that prehistoric cultures disappeared from the Southwest around the mid 1400’s.What we do know is that the ancient Besh-Ba-Gowah ruins in Globe has one of the largest single site archaeological collections in the southwest and is one of the most significant finds of Southwest archaeology. Occupied from 550 AD, first by the Hohokams, then by the Salado people from 1150 AD to 1450 AD.The area apparently remained uninhabited for centuries until the Apache people made it their homeland sometime after 1600 AD.

Besh-Ba-Gowah is situated along an ancient major trade route from Chihuahua, Mexico that passed along Pinal Creek en route to the Salado River. Besh-Ba-Gowah is viewed as having been a cosmopolitan trade center. Exports included turquoise, beads, and ceramic bowls. Imports included shells from the Gulf of Mexico, the Pacific Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. Cotton from lower altitudes was woven into cloth. The Besh-Ba-Gowah potters were masters of the craft. Salado Culture pottery has the largest area distribution of any Southwest ware.

Unlike many other Archaeological sites, visitors are able to walk within the rooms of this 700 year old pueblo, climb ladders into the upper stories, and see the utensils and pottery used daily in pre-Columbian times. Walking through the site, one can easily envision a bustling metropolis marketplace with walkways, homes, and ceremonial and community structures. Besh-Ba-Gowah continues to host visitors from around the world.

The entire pueblo is in stories. The ground floor rooms were used mostly for storage and upper stories for living areas. Several of these rooms have been almost completely restored and contain the types of tools and pottery excavated at the site. Besh-Ba-Gowah had about 400 rooms; of these about 250 were ground floor rooms. The main entrance to the pueblo was via a long narrow ground level corridor covered by the second level. The corridor opened onto the main plaza. This may have had defensive purpose. The interior of the ruins had very few doors. Access was by roof hatchways with ladders.

Salado occupation is thought to be from 1225 to 1400 AD period. Previous occupants are identified with the regional Hohokam Culture. Salado overlays Hohokam sites shows and shows continuity of occupation from 550 AD to 1450 AD.Along Pinal Creek a group of eight Salado Culture pueblos were constructed. Gila Pueblo dates from around 1225 AD and is about a mile upstream from Besh-Ba-Gowah. This site indicates the Salado Culture. This was the largest nucleated settlement along Pinal Creek, with two story sections and possibly three and four story sections. One hundred small hamlets and dozens of villages were also found in the area. In the vicinity there are 20 to 70 sites per square mile.

Besh-Ba-Gowah was destroyed by the earthquake and a fire in 1340. Both pueblos were rebuilt in 1345.Five to six building phases are known from 1225 to 1400. The final fall of Gila Pueblo in 1430 was due to a fourth attack and fire.

The Besh-Ba-Gowah Museum displays a variety of the artifacts that were excavated from the site. The museum houses one of the largest single collection of Salado pottery as well as tools, clothing and other artifacts. An ethno botanical garden on the grounds illustrates how native plants were used by the Salado in their daily life.

LOCATION: From Apache Junction take U.S. Highway 60 through Globe by following the signs to the Broad Street exit. Make a right turn onto Jess Hayes Road. Besh-Ba-Gowah is on the right on Jess Hayes Road.

THINGS TO DO: The ruins and museum are open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Special programs are offered periodically on excavation and history of the site. For more information, call the Greater Globe-Miami Chamber of Commerce, 1-800-804-5623, or contact the museum at


A picnic area and parking is within 100 feet of the pueblo entrance, and the site is almost entirely wheelchair accessible.

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