Mesa Verde

Page 2


Mesa Verde
history in brief


All cliff houses were built during the last two centuries of the Ancestral Pueblo People's 700-year primacy. See the "history in brief" section below for more details.

Pueblo People

Very little is known about the Ancestral Pueblo People lifestyles and history because they left no written record. However, archaeologists are able to create a timeline of their ancient development by analyzing evidence such as pottery fragments, tree lines, and construction design.


The Mesa Verde dwelling styles date back to different times. Up until around 750 AD, pithouses (partially recessed into the ground) on the mesa tops prevailed. Two reconstructed ones are open to the public. From 750 to 1100 AD, above-the-ground stone structures on the mesa tops were prevalent. From 1100 to 1300 AD (the Classical Pueblo Period), the inhabitants preferred living in cliff houses instead of mesa-top homes.

and discovery

The Ancient Puebloans mysteriously abandoned Mesa Verde some 700 years ago. Their forsaken buildings were not discovered until 1888 when two cowboys searching for stray cattle happened upon them.

Why did the inhabitants leave? Where did they go? No one knows for sure, but expert consensus believes the answers are "extended devastating drought", "ideological strife", and "merged into the nearby Hopi and Pueblo tribes".

Learn More

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