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

    Mesa Verde

    National Park Colorado

Artifact Gallery -- Kiva

Roofless kiva

Kiva is a Hopi word meaning “ceremonial room.” Kivas were important ceremonial gathering places in the life of Ancestral Puebloans – comparable to the churches, synagogues, temples, and mosques of today. It appears that every clan (made up of the extended family) had its own kiva for use during ceremonies and other social events. Kivas were also used as sleeping areas, so served a multi-use concept.

Notice the small hole near the firepit? This is the Sipapu, a Hopi word for “place of emergence.” According to Hopi oral tradition, this hole represents the place where Ancestral Puebloan people emerged from the previous world to this one. Much like the biblical story of Noah’s Ark, Hopis believe that the world before this one was destroyed, but a few chosen people were saved. Climbing a ladder up out of the smoky kiva and through the roof into the courtyard after ceremonies may have served as a powerful reminder of their salvation from the world before.

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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.