Anasazi: Cave Dwellers, Pithouses, Kivas

Where Did The Anasazi Live

The Anasazi are the ancestors of the modern Pueblo civilization. Often, they are referred to as the Ancient Pueblo People or Ancestral Puebloans who belonged to the prehistoric Native American civilization which centered around the currently known Four Corners of the U.S. Southwest.

The early Anasazi hunted wild animals for food and gathered seeds, fruits, and nuts. From using an atlatl to throw spears, they learned to use other weapons such as daggers and bow and arrows.

After hundreds of years, the Anasazi began farming and raised animals such as turkeys and dogs which helped them pull heavy loads. They planted beans and corn and even had popcorn.

The Anasazi As Cave Dwellers

The early Anasazi were mostly cave dwellers. They lived in the caves in an area now known as Utah in the United States several thousands of years ago. Inside these caves, they built primitive rooms which were used as living quarters, food storage places and ceremonial structures.

Pithouses

During the Basketmaker II period (200 to 500 A.D.), the Anasazi started to build pithouse villages. The technology used in building these pithouses was highly likely transmitted eastward through Siberia which then went across the ice bridge between North America and Asia around 12,000 to 14,000 years, until it was passed down through Canada and Alaska to the American Southwest.

When compared to the houses in the modern world, these early Anasazi habitations were dark, crude, smoky, smelly, cramped, and cold mostly during winter. However, they are no doubt superior to the caves and other temporary shelters that were built during their nomadic days.

Kivas

It was during the Basketmaker III period (500-750 A.D.) when the first kivas appeared. While there are some kivas that are square or D-shaped, a majority come in round shape. Usually, they have a small room that’s opening out from its perimeter on the south which resembles a keyhole. It is believed that the room is used for storing ceremonial items.

Above-Ground Structures

During the Pueblo I period (750-900 A.D.), read more the Anasazi built their residential structures above ground and added masonry to the adobe constructions. Masonry walls are often made up of a core of loose stones that are irregular and rough. The walls’ two sides are finished with a veneer of shaped stones. Over time, Anasazi masonry became quite refined and elegant. The finest examples of Anasazi masonry are found in Chaco.

Multi-storied Rooms at Pueblo Bonito

An increase in the number of villages had occurred in the Early Pueblo II – Bonito phase (900-1000 A.D.) at Chaco Canyon. The Anasazi constructed the first multi-storied rooms at Pueblo Bonito, Una Vida and Peñasco Blanco in Chaco Canyon. Pueblo Bonito is said to have occupied over 3 acres and stood five stories high. With over 800 rooms, it was the residence of around 1,000 people.

Cliff Dwellings

These are villages, stone houses, and towns that are built in caves or on big shelves in rock canyon walls. Generally speaking, cliff dwellings are considered as the most spectacular and the foremost representation of Anasazi architecture.

One of the oldest cliff dwellings is Keet Seel which was inhabited around 950 and redesigned in 1272 with 160 more rooms added. It is deemed as the second biggest cliff dwelling following the largest one known as Cliff Palace at Mesa Verde.

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