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

    Mesa Verde

    National Park Colorado

Artifact Gallery -- Kiva Courtyards

Cliff dwelling courtyard with kiva entrances
Kiva Courtyard
 

While kivas were used for a variety of purposes, their roofs served as a central courtyard where daily work and living took place. You might have found women grinding corn or preparing food, while men made tools or wove cloth. Doors bordering the courtyard were small, partially due to the shorter height of people during this time period, and partially because the smaller entryways kept rooms warmer at night, especially during winter months.

You may notice that entry to the kiva involves climbing a ladder down into the earth. This served as a reminder of where Ancestral Puebloans believed they came from. It also provided the possibility for people to be cleansed by ritual smoke as they entered the kiva.

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Did You Know?

View of the House of Many Windows cliff dwelling

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.