Scene at Spruce Tree House

Illustration of Ancestral Pueblo people living in Spruce Tree House ca 1250.
Illustrated scene of Spruce Tree House about A.D. 1250

Painting by Roy Andersen


A person standing across the canyon from Spruce Tree House in the mid-A.D. 1200s might have witnessed a scene like the example above. This village was one of the largest in Mesa Verde. It had 129 rooms and eight kivas. Some 60 to 90 persons lived here at any one time. Hundreds of years before this village was built, their ancestors probably lived in pithouses in the same alcove shelter.

The Ancestral Pueblo people were experienced builders. The walls of the cliff dwelling were built straight and tall, laid up with carefully shaped stones. The season depicted in this scene is autumn, the villagers’ busiest time of year. On the mesa top, men are harvesting their crop of corn, beans, and squash. They reached their fields by hand-and-toe-hold trails pecked into the canyon walls. Some of them are in the dwelling, spreading the crops on a roof top to dry. These are the stores that will see them through the long winter and even the next year or two if there is drought. You may also see women grinding corn, old men sitting in the sun and telling stories, hunters off on a hunting expedition, children scampering about, and domesticated dogs and turkeys roaming the courtyards.

To learn more, go to Ancestral Pueblo People of Mesa Verde.


Last updated: January 25, 2018

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