Earliest dwellings - Pit houses
Over 4,000 ruins have been identified in Mesa Verde. At its height, the ancient Pueblo culture supported over 30,000 people - more than are in the SW Colo area now.
The pit houses were the first and oldest dwellings. They are impressive when you consider that they were dug with sticks by hand. While they were dug into the ground, supports would have raised the ceiling over ground-level. Entry was commonly thru the smoke hole in the center of the roof.
All the pit houses and villages are protected from the elements by housing. The Cliff Houses are also being conserved in various ways. Some were closed while I was there due to rock falls and ongoing conservation attempts (reinforcing cliff faces and overhangs).
|pit houses evolved into above ground villages with masonry walls.|
Evolving Architecture and re-use and building over old sites leads to some confusion.
The oldest pit houses date to about 550 ad. Above ground villages date from 750 - 1100 ad. The Cliff dwellings date from about 1150 - 1250 ad. The cliff dwellings were all abandoned by 1300 ad.
Village above ground houses often formed a semi circle around a Kiva. Towers, like the one below, came in later and sometimes had a tunnel to the Kiva.
|Masonry foundations for village rooms.|
|The Kivas were very deep and had sophisticated ventilation systems.|
The Cliff dwellings were incredible.
Long House contains about 150 rooms and 21 Kivas; it housed 150-175 people! On one canyon wall over a dozen separate dwellings have been found - some very small, perhaps only created for storage, others for small family groups and then the big ones like Long House and Cliff Palace.