Cerros de trincheras in northern Sonora and southern Arizona have traditionally been interpreted as short-term, defensive refuges. This paper reviews recent evidence concerning the functions of such sites by focusing on survey, mapping, and excavation results gained over the past 12 years at several Tucson Basin cerros de trincheras. This evidence suggests that the Tucson Basin sites, and probably other cerros de trincheras as well, were not used as emergency defensive retreats. They instead were used for a variety of activities during the Hohokam early Classic period. The largest and most complex sites apparently were habitation villages, supporting hillside and hill summit pit houses and masonry rooms, large and small stone terraces, and massive, walled compounds. Artifacts and other evidence indicate that some of the terraces apparently were used for cultivation, and that the compounds may have accommodated ceremonies. Symbolic aspects of cerros de trincheras, particularly the highly visible terraces and compounds, are discussed. It is proposed that cerros de trincheras of southern Arizona were an important part of widespread organizational and ideological changes that took place during the early Classic period.
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