Not long ago, students were taught the Ancestral Puebloan (Anasazi) people “disappeared” from Mesa Verde after a drought of over 20 years drove them out. According to legend, these people were never seen again.
Now we know differently. It is the story of 24 Southwestern tribes, including the Hopi, Zuni, and numerous Pueblos whose oral history links them to the Ancestral Puebloans once inhabiting the mesa tops and cliff dwellings of Mesa Verde. Archeologists support this connection by noting the similarities between artifacts and cliff dwellings discovered at the ancient sites, and the traditions, structures, and cultural objects used by today’s tribes.
While the stories told about these ancient people have changed over time, try to form your own stories about these people by studying the artifacts they have left behind. Look at these pictures, and see if you can begin to imagine the life they must have led. How do you think these items were used? What do they tell us about the people who made and used them? What questions do these artifacts raise? Most importantly, what does all this mean for us today?
Click on the images below to see a larger view and information about each item.
Did You Know?
Ninety percent of Mesa Verde’s cliff dwellings contain 10 rooms or less. One-third have only one or two rooms. This should help to put the more famous cliff dwellings of Cliff Palace (150 rooms), Long House (150 rooms), Spruce Tree House (130 rooms), and Balcony House (40 rooms) into perspective.