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AZTEC RUINS
National Monument
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photograph of over-under corner doorway
An over-under corner doorway.



The Aztec Ruins Today (continued)

Since the entire ruin has not been excavated, it is possible there may be more rooms with ceilings intact, or others in which, although the ceilings have collapsed, the first-floor walls and part of the second remain, As far as we can tell from the excavated rooms and from the surface evidence, there are 221 first-story rooms. There are intact portions of 119 second-story rooms and at least 12 third-story rooms. When originally inhabited, there were many more than the 352 rooms that we can count today. Generally, access from one room to another was by doorways that led from the back or side portions of the pueblo out toward the central plaza. However, several rooms also had lateral doorways, many of which had at one time been sealed up, either by the first inhabitants or by the second group. When burials were made in a room, it must have been necessary to seal all the doorways, unless the bodies were placed in subfloor pits or covered with dirt or debris.

Among the second-story rooms in the northeastern section are four special doorways, each placed in the corner of a room so that it connects with the adjoining diagonal room. As far as we know corner doorways occur only in second-story rooms, with the possible exception of the double doorway mentioned below. One corner doorway leads into a room that had four normal doorways, one in each side. We do not know if this room had a special function, but it was the most accessible in the entire pueblo.

One corner doorway is possibly unique in the entire Southwest; beneath it is a second and much smaller one which led from the second-floor level into a first-floor room which could be entered only by this means. Although there is a step arrangement in this lower doorway, it is so small and its roof is so low that it must have been a matter of crawling rather than walking through it. This doorway enters the lower room so high in the wall that it would also have been necessary to have a ladder inside the room to enter or leave it.

In addition to doorways, many rooms, especially toward the back or sides of the pueblo and in the lower tiers, had one or two openings about a foot square, high in the back wall. These are above the height of an average man even today, and could not have served as view holes or windows for the Indians. They must have been put there for ventilation.

There are a few other openings in some walls which are not as large as the average doorway or as small as the ventilators. Usually these are placed at a medium height in the room and could well have served as windows to allow a view from one room to an other. None of these so-called windows, however, opens to the rear or sides of the pueblo, nor is any known that opens onto the plaza in front.


sketch of over-under corner doorway

Not counting the Great Kiva, which bulks so large in the plaza, excavations have revealed at least 29 other kivas or ceremonial chambers. Several, especially in the southeast corner underlie the main structure and may represent kivas from the earlier or Developmental Pueblo Period. Besides the cluster of small kivas around the southeastern corner, there is a second grouping of larger kivas among the rooms in the northeast corner and out into the north eastern part of the plaza, where a rather large Chaco-type kiva is located. A third cluster, composed of smaller Mesa Verde-type keyhole kivas, is located near the southwestern corner of the pueblo, and Morris found scattered remains of one or two other kivas toward the front of the southwestern part.



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