Libraries Round the World: An AZ Mystery

The Hohokam, a Native American prehistoric people, built a small hilltop village in what is now called the Tonto National Forest in Arizona about an hour ‘s drive north of Phoenix. The ruins, dating back to about 1050, were found by soldiers on patrol in 1867. The nearby Sears-Kay Ranch was established in 1887, and the ruins were subsequently officially recognized. Hence, the site is known as the Sears-Kay Ruins.


In December last year, a steep half-mile rocky dirt trail from the parking lot, led us to the mountain top village composed of about 40 rooms in five separate buildings. Hohokam means, not surprisingly, “ancient people.” Back in the day, the old village was filled with courtyards and ramadas to enjoy the cooler winds at this high elevation. Rooms were built for protection, sleeping, and storage.


But the official signs said that one room, or building, with rounded corners, still remains a mystery. Similar to the rounded edges on Apple products, round rooms were harder to build and add onto a thousand years ago.


Round rooms have always been mystical. Hospital rooms for surgery were once round to keep germs out. As we all know, germs lurk in corners and want to gang up to get us.

I have an idea of what it might have been used for or what I hope is the reason. My guess: a unique room for storytelling to a small select group or as a place to dream up stories to tell around the campfire after a hard day of survival. Groups of storytellers may have gathered inside to teach the younger members of the tribe.


While the room wouldn’t have held printed books, it may have contained special chairs to relax and dream. Herbs and admired rare stones or gems may have assisted the story-creators. I hope some women were included in this select group.


They estimate the Hohokam left this village 150 years later, in the year 1200, for reasons unknown. Perhaps the wildlife was less abundant, or the nearby springs were running dry. Despite being on such a remote and open spot, over the years, vandalism has taken its toll.


Whatever the reason, I hope it’s around for another thousand years for people to enjoy. Maybe future storytellers will visit, and inspiration will keep flowing from the rocks remaining from the Hohokam’s magical round room.

Karen Stensgaard is the author of two novels, AQUAVIT and BLUENESS, in the Aquamarine Sea Series. AQUAVIT’s ebook is currently free on Amazon and other sites. For more info, use the links below.


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