Rio Grande Classic Period

settlement map
Large villages were occupied across the Plateau from 1300-1550 CE. 

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During this time, occupation on the Pajarito Plateau was characterized by the creation of larger, relatively long-lived villages linked by networks of trails.

Cooperation and Trade
This shift to larger villages increased cooperation among inhabitants and opened land for farming to provide more food. Farming methods included managing surface water using small ditches and reservoirs. By the late 1300s, Pueblo communities of the Pajarito Plateau actively traded obsidian, woven cotton, pottery, and deer meat and skins. The presence of many looms in the cavates of Frijoles Canyon shows the importance of weaving cotton textiles

man weaving inside of a cavate
During this period, men often used looms in cavates to weave cotton cloth.

NPS Collections

Population Growth
In Frijoles Canyon the population grew throughout the 1400s. It is estimated that 500-800 people lived here during this time. This population center, which includes Tyuonyi (Qu-weh-nee), was one of the larger communities in what is now Bandelier National Monument.

By the mid-1500s most of the Ancestral Pueblo people had relocated from the Pajarito Plateau, settling into Pueblo communities along the Rio Grande. Ancestral Pueblo people continued to use the plateau after moving to the river – a practice that continues today.

Last updated: February 24, 2015

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