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cliff dwellers,Ancestral Pueblo people, sometimes called Anasazi, who were builders of the ancient cliff dwellings found in the canyons and on the mesas of the U.S. Southwest, principally on the tributaries of the Rio Grande and the Colorado River in New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, and Colorado. It was once thought that these ruins were the work of an extinct aboriginal people, but it has been established that they were built (11th–14th cent.) by the ancestors of the present PuebloPueblo,
name given by the Spanish to the sedentary Native Americans who lived in stone or adobe communal houses in what is now the SW United States. The term pueblo is also used for the villages occupied by the Pueblo.
..... Click the link for more information. . The dwellings were large communal habitations built on ledges in the canyon walls and on the flat tops of the mesas. Access to the cliffs was very difficult and thus highly defensible against nomadic predatory tribes such as the Navajo. The cliff dwellers were sedentary agriculturists who planted crops in the river valleys below their high-perched houses. They were experts at irrigating the fields. Their lives were organized on a communal pattern, and the many kivas (see kivakiva
, large, underground ceremonial chamber, peculiar to the ancient and modern Pueblo. The modern kiva probably evolved from the slab houses (i.e., storage pits and dwellings that were partly underground and lined with stone slabs set on edge) of their cultural ancestors, the
..... Click the link for more information. ) show that their religious ceremonies were like those of the Pueblo today. Many of the dwellings are now in national parks. Some of the better-known ones are those of the Mesa Verde National ParkMesa Verde National Park
, 52,122 acres (21,109 hectares), SW Colorado; est. 1906. Set amid forested canyons and flat mesas, the park includes the most notable and best-preserved cliff dwellings (see cliff dwellers) and relics in the United States.
..... Click the link for more information. , in Colorado, where there are more than 300 dwellings; Canyons of the Ancients and Yucca House national monuments, also in Colorado; Hovenweep National Monument, in Utah; Bandelier and Gila Cliff Dwellings national monuments, in New Mexico; and Canyon de ChellyCanyon de Chelly National Monument
[De Chelly, Sp. corruption of Navajo Tsegi = rock canyon], 83,840 acres (33,955 hectares), NE Ariz.; est. 1931. The area contains the ruins of several hundred prehistoric Native American villages, most of them built A.D. 350–1300.
..... Click the link for more information. , Casa Grande Ruins, Montezuma CastleMontezuma Castle National Monument,
858 acres (347 hectares), central Ariz.; est. 1906. Montezuma Castle, built c.1250, is a 5-story, 20-room dwelling perched high in the cavity of a cliff. It was named by early settlers who believed it had been built by the Aztecs.
..... Click the link for more information. , and Wupatki national monuments, in Arizona.
See W. Current, Pueblo Architecture of the Southwest (1971).