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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