Artifact Gallery -- 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.
Did You Know?
The Ancestral Puebloans inhabited Mesa Verde for more than 700 years (550 A.D. to 1300 A.D.), but for the first six centuries, they primarily lived on the mesa tops. It was not until the final 75 to 100 years that they constructed and lived in the cliff dwellings for which Mesa Verde is known.