Early American History
The First Americans
American Southwest
Ancient People
Chaco Canyon
Cliff Palace
Key Concepts
From 100 B.C. to 1300 A.D., the Anasazi civilization grew in the dry lands of the American southwest. The Anasazi are called the Ancient People. They lived in groups of houses that the Spanish later called pueblos. Pueblo is the Spanish word for "town" or "village."

Pueblos were multistory buildings. They were made of adobe. Adobe is a mixture of sand and straw that is dried into bricks. There was very little wood in the dry lands. The Anasazi had to carry wood from miles away to use for roof beams for their pueblos.

Early pueblos were built on top of mesas or high, flat-topped hills. Pueblos had very few windows or doors on the lower levels. People moved from one level to another by ladder. The Anasazi had no windows and doors on the first level to protect themselves from their enemies. If they were attacked, they pulled up the ladder.

There are several famous pueblos that can be visited today in the South West. Pueblo Bonito or "Beautiful Town" was built under the tall canyon walls of Chaco Canyon in New Mexico. It had 800 rooms and was home to 1,200 Anasazi. Another pueblo is know as Cliff Palace. It is in Mesa Verde, Colorado. Cliff Palace was three stories high. It had 200 rooms where 1,000 Pueblo people lived.

The Anasazi learned how to farm in the dry lands. They grew corn, squash, and beans. They planted seeds deep in the dry soil to get the most water. They stored water in holes and ditches to use during droughts. The Anasazi were always prepared for droughts. They saved dried corn in clay jars. They stored enough dried corn to feed their people for two years during a long drought.

The Anasazi had many gods. Like other Native peoples, nature was represented by their gods. The Earth mother, the sun god, and the rain god were a few of the Anasazi gods. The Anasazi held secret religious ceremonies in underground rooms called kivas.

No one knows for sure why the Anasazi left their great Pueblos in the high mesa lands. Some people think a drought that lasted for many years may have caused the Anasazi to move. They moved to the lower river valleys where they lived in smaller pueblos.
The Anasazi
Earth mother
Four Corners
Pueblo Bonito
rain god
sun god
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Additional Information
Anasazi - Sometimes, the Anasazi are called the Ancient Puebloans.
The Anasazi lived in the area today known as Four Corners. This area of the United States is where the four states of New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, and Utah meet. The Anasazi were peaceful farmers. Life was difficult for the Native peoples of the southwest. The land was dry and this made farming difficult. The Anasazi had to work hard to grow their food and hunting small animals. This left very little time for recreation and arts and crafts.

Chaco Canyon - Chaco Canyon (Pueblo Bonito) had apartments and official buildings and avenues. The community was designed like a wheel with spokes leading to outlying villages.

drought - Beginning in 1276, a 24 year drought began in the area of Four
Corners. The Anasazi had not conserved wood for fuel. The farm fields had
been over planted. Planting the same crops, year after year had removed the
nutrients from the soil. The size of the Anasazi harvest began to get smaller.
By 1300, the Anasazi had abandoned Mesa Verde. The Anasazi moved
south to land along the Rio Grande River.

gods - Anasazi priests were very important in the Anasazi society. The
Anasazi were very religious. Tribal traditions and customs were very important. The Anasazi were not tolerant of different religious ideas.

Kivas - The Anasazi built kivas, or round rooms dug into the ground. Kivas were used by the men of the tribe. In the Kivas they held secret religious ceremonies. The men would also sit inside the kivas to make laws and to discuss problems.

Cliff Palace - The name, Mesa Verde is Spanish for "Green Table
Cliff Palace was a 200 room apartment building. It sat on a stone shelf on the side of a steep mountain. The cliff house had walls made from heavy stones. The Anasazi used thick clay to hold the stones together. The cliff house had towers and many kivas. The Mesa Verde cliff house protected the Anasazi from heavy snows and the enemies. However, the stones were cold and damp. All of the Anasazi who lived in the cliff house grew up to have arthritis. They died before they were 40 years old. From the cliff house, men and women climbed up the steep mountain side to the flat mesa to work in the farm fields. To climb to the mesa, the people had to pull themselves up from toehold to toehold. If they fell down the side of the mountain, they would fall 700 feet to the valley floor.