Architectural documentation records specific details and features, such as building stone shaping techniques, mortar application, doorways, hearths, and vents to name a few. This is done by creating detailed drawings or scaled digital photographs of each wall within a site. To date, architectural documentation projects have been completed at Cliff Palace, Spruce Tree House, Oak Tree House and several smaller alcove sites located in the backcountry of Mesa Verde National Park.
Recording architectural features can help us determine how the structures were originally constructed and what alterations might have taken place over time. The use, reuse, and function of each structure, as well as the spatial relationships between rooms and kivas can also be determined. Features and details can also tell us how individual rooms may have been used, and also help to determine the size and composition of Ancestral Puebloan households. This in turn helps archeologists determine population size not only within certain sites, but in the Mesa Verde region.
Did You Know?
On a snowy December day in 1888, while ranchers Richard Wetherill and Charlie Mason searched Mesa Verde’s canyons for stray cattle, they unexpectedly came upon Cliff Palace for the first time. The following year, the Wetherill brothers and Mason explored an additional 182 cliff dwellings.