Cochise Tradition – The Archaic of Arizona – 7000 BC – 200 BC

The Cochise tradition was established near the lake Cochise. It is believed by many archeologists that this culture evolved in the Southwest almost 7000 years ago and lasted till 200 BC. Many archeological sites regarding this culture have been found in the Sonora desert of Arizona and Sonora in Mexico.

Cochise Tradition, Sonoran Desert, Arizona

These archaeological sites have revealed many tools and weapons especially projectile points used by these people. Apart from this Millingstones and certain settlement sites are also found. These people used to grow maize and were having small rounded houses. It is also evident that these people had extraordinary knowledge in the field of basket making.


The term ‘Cochise’ was first used in 1940s in order to describe a culture that perished in the alluvial deposits of Arizona. The region of Southwest is primarily marked by wide valley and narrow mountain ranges. The area is mostly arid or semi arid, still many desert plant grows here which could have sustained the population of hunters and gatherers at that time. Major species of plant were Cactus and Mesquite. These plants, to some extent, met the dietary need of the hunters.


It is pointed out by archeologist that till 3000 BC these people were mainly hunters and gatherers so they were not having any permanent settlement and used to live in temporary camps. After 3000 BC these people started growing maize thus they lived a more settled life and started building pit house which were having extra storage area to store maize. Certain of these pit houses are found near the coast old Santa Cruz River.

Pit Houses, Cochise Tradition

Family Culture

These people were not having any settled life before the introduction of maize in agriculture. The settled life ensured disappearance of the leadership crisis in their camps. Pit houses were more properly managed than the older camps. Relationship extended from mere kinship and now people of different tribe used to work for each other.

The Cochise Phase is distributed in various phases. Its earliest phase was ‘Sulphur Spring Phase‘ which developed around 5000 BC. Two of its later and most important phase were Chiricahua Phase and San Pedro Phase.

Chiricahua phase

This cultural phase developed around 3500 BC and ended in 1500 BC. Most of the archeological digging done in the Ventana caves in Arizona and some other expedition conducted in New Mexico have revealed a lot about this cultural phase. These people were having extraordinary knowledge in the field of seed processing artifacts and produced very fine and accurate projectile points.

San Pedro Phase

Radiocarbon dating has revealed that this cultural phase developed in 1500 BC and remained till 200 BC.

Those people, by that time, started exploiting various resources and had covered a large area in the southwest. This cultural phase is mostly known for its large projectile points with concave base and for its pit-houses. These people developed the technique of cultivating maize crop.

Successor culture

It is believed that the Cochise people were the ancestors of Mogollon and Hohokam tradition.

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