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?
Cliff Palace is the largest cliff dwelling at Mesa Verde National Park. It has 150 rooms, plus an additional 75 open areas. Twenty-one of the rooms are kivas, and 25 to 30 rooms have residential features. The number of Ancestral Puebloans living in Cliff Palace at any one time was 100 to 120.