• Figuring Out Figurines: An Ontological Approach to Hohokam Anthropomorphic Figurines from the Phoenix Basin

      Mills, Barbara J.; Aragon, Leslie D.; Fish, Paul; Watson, James (The University of Arizona., 2013)
      Anthropologists, and increasingly archaeologists, are using the word 'ontology' with escalating frequency. In Philosophy, where it originated, several subdivisions exist within the discipline, all of which deal with grouping things that exist into categories. What can archaeologists learn by taking this concept from philosophy and applying it to archaeology? Further, how do we recognize the ontologies of others, particularly those who did not leave a written record, in the archaeological record? The way that people categorize things plays a role in how they are disposed. Patterns in depositional practices emerge as visible traces in the archaeological record that allow us to recognize other people's ontologies. This is an important concept for archaeologists interested in addressing prehistoric value, since the value of a given object cannot be assessed without knowing how people in the past categorized things. In my work with anthropomorphic Hohokam figurines from the Phoenix Basin, I use an ontological approach to explore the life histories of figurines from their manufacture, through deposition in the archaeological record, and subsequent excavation in modern times. I then compare the figurine assemblage from recent excavations at La Villa (AZ T:12:148[ASM]) to see how it fits in the identified pattern.