• View of Square Tower House, seen along the Mesa Top Loop

    Mesa Verde

    National Park Colorado

Artifact Gallery -- Cliff Palace

Overview of Cliff Palace
Cliff Palace
 

Cliff Palace is the largest cliff dwelling in North America. Constructed from sandstone bricks and a mortar of clay, ash, and water, these buildings have been standing for more than 800 years as a testament to the architectural skills of Ancestral Pueblo people. Of course, it helps that they chose to build the dwelling in the shelter of the alcoves where it was protected from the elements. Do you think the buildings that we build today would last that long?

Different theories explain why people chose to build homes, storage places, and ceremonial kivas in these rugged cliff alcoves. Some suggest the move was defensive (against invading tribes) while others believe it brought protection from the weather (many such sites stay cool in summer and are buffered from winter winds). See what you can find to support or refute these theories.

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Did You Know?

Zia Corn Dance

Descendants of Mesa Verde Ancestral Puebloans include the Hopi in Arizona, and the 19 Rio Grande pueblos of New Mexico: Taos, Picuris, Sandia, Isleta, San Juan, Santa Clara, San Ildefonso, Nambe, Tesuque, Jemez, Cochiti, Pojoaque, Santo Domingo, San Felipe, Santa Ana, Zia, Laguna, Acoma, and Zuni.