Frequently Asked Questions

Who were these people?
The people who built Wupatki and other pueblos here were ancestors of the Hopi, Zuni, and other puebloan peoples of today. Archeologists recognize different cultural traditions based on differences in pottery styles and architecture. According to these classifications, most of the monument’s sites are called Kayenta Ancestral Puebloan; others are Cohonina, and Sinagua. But these are modern terms. We don’t know what people called themselves or how different groups related to each other.

Where did people get their water?
Wupatki spring, just 100 meters from Wupatki Pueblo, is now dry, but it once produced about 500 gallons per day. They also collected and stored rainwater by placing ollas (large jars) under rock overhangs and roofs, and by modifying natural reservoirs where water collected after heavy rains.

Was the climate different back then? Was there more rain?
The Southwest experiences cyclical periods of drought and increased moisture, but conditions were pretty much the same as today. Average rainfall is about 8”, most of which falls during the summer monsoon. Dendrochronology (tree ring studies) tells us that conditions were warm and relatively wet at the beginning of the main occupation, but after 1167, the weather became colder and drier.

What did they eat?
They grew about half their diet – corn, beans, squash, and gourds - in fields and gardens. They also collected wild seeds and grains (Indian rice grass, bee weed, amaranth), and spring greens, and hunted pronghorn, deer, rabbits, lizards, and the rodents that came to their fields.

Are excavations going on today?
Not often. Archeologists mostly monitor sites to make sure they are not being damaged. Most research today uses non-destructive methods, in order to preserve information for the future.

Last updated: March 31, 2012

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