Mesa Verde, Prehistoric Ruins of

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MESA VERDE, PREHISTORIC RUINS OF. Mesa Verde National Park (52,073 acres) in southwest Colorado was established in 1906 to preserve pre-Columbian cliff dwellings. Similar dwellings exist in adjacent parts of New Mexico, Arizona, and Utah, but Mesa Verde's are the most extensive and best-preserved structures. The builders were probably ancestors of today's Pueblos. For defense, they constructed their communal

houses in recesses high up steep canyon walls. The dwellings and temples consisted of stone, clay, and supporting poles. The cliff dwellers flourished in the eleventh and twelfth centuries, and severe drought probably forced them to abandon the mesa canyons in 1276.


Ferguson, William M. The Anasazi of Mesa Verde and the Four Corners. Niwot, Colo.: University Press of Colorado, 1996.

RobertPhillips/j. h.

See alsoAncestral Pueblo (Anasazi) ; Architecture, American Indian .