"Cloudy afternoon sky at Aztec Ruins" by U.S. National Park Service , public domain

Aztec Ruins

National Monument - New Mexico

The Aztec Ruins National Monument preserves Ancestral Puebloan structures in northwestern New Mexico, United States, located close to the town of Aztec and northeast of Farmington, near the Animas River.



Recreation Map of San Juan County in New Mexcio. Published by San Juan County.San Juan - Recreation Map

Recreation Map of San Juan County in New Mexcio. Published by San Juan County.

Official Visitor Map of Aztec Ruins National Monument (NM) in New Mexico. Published by the National Park Service (NPS).Aztec Ruins - Visitor Map

Official Visitor Map of Aztec Ruins National Monument (NM) in New Mexico. Published by the National Park Service (NPS).

Map of the U.S. National Park System. Published by the National Park Service (NPS).National Park System - National Park Units

Map of the U.S. National Park System. Published by the National Park Service (NPS).

Map of the U.S. National Park System with Unified Regions. Published by the National Park Service (NPS).National Park System - National Park Units and Regions

Map of the U.S. National Park System with Unified Regions. Published by the National Park Service (NPS).

Map of the U.S. National Heritage Areas. Published by the National Park Service (NPS).National Park System - National Heritage Areas

Map of the U.S. National Heritage Areas. Published by the National Park Service (NPS).

Tourist-Road Map of New Mexico. Published by the New Mexico Department of Transportation.New Mexico - Tourist-Road Map

Tourist-Road Map of New Mexico. Published by the New Mexico Department of Transportation.

https://www.nps.gov/azru/index.htm https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aztec_Ruins_National_Monument The Aztec Ruins National Monument preserves Ancestral Puebloan structures in northwestern New Mexico, United States, located close to the town of Aztec and northeast of Farmington, near the Animas River. Aztec Ruins has some of the best-preserved Chacoan structures of its kind. Learn more about the ancestral Pueblo people in the park's museum and explore the Aztec West great house to see exceptionally advanced architecture, original wooden beams, and a restored Great Kiva. Aztec Ruins is a deeply sacred place to many Indigenous peoples across the American Southwest. Please visit with respect. From Albuquerque/Bloomfield, NM: Follow Hwy 550 north into Aztec, turn left onto Highway 516, drive 3/4 mile, then turn right onto Ruins Road. Follow Ruins Road 1/2 mile to the monument. From Durango, CO: Follow Hwy 550 south into Aztec, where it will become 516. Turn right onto Ruins Road. Follow Ruins Road 1/2 mile to the monument. From Farmington, NM Follow Highway 516 east into Aztec. 1/4 mile past Lightplant Road, turn left onto Ruins Road. Follow Ruins Road 1/2 mile to the monument. Aztec Ruins National Monument Visitor Center A historic Visitor Center with museum exhibits and a 15 minute park film. The Visitor Center is open whenever the park is open. Enter Aztec Ruins National Monument at 725 Ruins Road. The Visitor Center will be ahead on your right, with vehicle parking on the right and oversize vehicle/RV parking on the left. Great Kiva in Aztec West plaza Reconstructed stone kiva amidst stone ruins Great Kiva in Aztec West plaza Great Kiva Interior of a reconstructed great kiva The reconstructed Great Kiva Rainbow over the Great Kiva Rainbow over the reconstructed Great Kiva Rainbow over the reconstructed Great Kiva Winter snow on Aztec West great house Winter snow on stone ruins Winter snow on Aztec West great house T-shaped doorway in Aztec West Original "T-shaped" doorway in stone ruins Original "T-shaped" doorway in Aztec West Original ancestral Pueblo roof structure Three layers of original intact roof beams Original ancestral Pueblo roof structures A New Perspective On my drive out west toward Grand Canyon this year, I had the chance to stop at a few Ancestral Puebloan sites – namely, Bandelier, Chaco Culture, and Aztec Ruins. Having worked and spent some time around these types of sites before, I felt like I was seeing and appreciating these special places on a much deeper level than even I realized was possible. partial stone ruin walls form what was an interior corner of a room with doorway in corner. New Mexico: Aztec Ruins National Monument Near Aztec, New Mexico over 1,000 years ago, Ancestral Pueblo people constructed a large planned community that served their society for over two centuries. Aztec Ruins National Monument, which is part of the Chaco Culture National Historical Park World Heritage Site, preserves the remains of this well planned community, which is the largest Ancestral Puebloan community in the Animas River Valley. Aerial view of Aztec ruins NPS Geodiversity Atlas—Aztec Ruins National Monument, New Mexico Each park-specific page in the NPS Geodiversity Atlas provides basic information on the significant geologic features and processes occurring in the park. Links to products from Baseline Geologic and Soil Resources Inventories provide access to maps and reports. aerial view of park and surroundings Increasing temperature seasonality may overwhelm shifts in soil moisture to favor shrub over grass dominance in Colorado Plateau drylands Increasing variability of temperature favors a shift to shrublands over grasslands in arid southwestern landscapes. This effect is greater than the effect of increasing soil moisture, which favors a shift to grasslands over shrublands. Grassland with scattered junipers and hills in the background. 2011 SCPN-NAU Student Projects In spring 2011, the SCPN-NAU School of Communication collaboration began with a multimedia studies course focused on documenting park resources and resource projects. The class was taught by NAU professors Laura Camden and Peter Friederici. 2011 Student Projects The Colorado Plateau The Colorado Plateau is centered on the four corners area of the Southwest, and includes much of Arizona, Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico. Hazy Fajada Butte, Chaco Culture National Monument Monitoring Upland Vegetation and Soils on the Southern Colorado Plateau Vegetation and soils are the foundation upon which all terrestrial ecosystems are built. Soils provide the medium for the storage and delivery of water and nutrients to plants, which in turn provide animal populations with both habitat and food. Sampling grassland vegetation at a long-term monitoring plot at Wupatki National Monument Southern Colorado Plateau Exotic Plant Inventory Exotic plants take a heavy toll on biodiversity around the world. In the United States, exotic plant species invade tens of thousands of hectares every year, outcompeting native species and causing many to become threatened or endangered. Fire, flood, and other natural disturbance regimes can also be altered by exotic plants, broadly affecting land management. Common salsify, an exotic plant Modeling Past and Future Soil Moisture in Southern Colorado Plateau National Parks and Monuments In this project, USGS and NPS scientists used the range of variation in historical climate data to provide context for assessing the relative impact of projected future climate on soil water availability. This report provides the results of modeled SWP generated for 11 ecosystems in nine Southern Colorado Plateau Network parks. Extensive grassland at Wupatki National Monument Early Custodians of Tumacácori Early leadership at Tumacácori during the New Deal period of the 1930s made some of the most lasting and significant decisions in the park's history. sepia-toned photo of Louis Caywood in ranger hat Southern Colorado Plateau Bird Inventories Birds are considered to be good indicators of environmental change. Inventories of bird populations not only provide valuable information that can help manage bird populations, but can also be helpful in managing other resources as well. Yellow-rumped warbler Southwest River Environments In the arid Southwest, water means life, and prehistorically, rivers were the lifelines of the people. The Colorado River flowing through a canyon Vegetation Characterization and Mapping on the Southern Colorado Plateau Vegetation mapping is a tool used by botanists, ecologists, and land managers to better understand the abundance, diversity, and distribution of different vegetation types across a landscape. Vegetation plots used for the classification and mapping of El Malpais NM Climate Change on the Southern Colorado Plateau The combination of high. elevation and a semi-arid climate makes the Colorado Plateau particularly vulnerable to climate change. Climate models predict that over the next 100 years, the Southwest will become warmer and even more arid, with more extreme droughts than the region has experienced in the recent past. One result of climate change may be more, larger floods, like this flash flood in Glen Canyon NRA Southern Colorado Plateau Mammal Inventories Mammal inventories help to close the gap in our knowledge and understanding of some taxonomic groups on the Colorado Plateau. Coyote (Canis latrans) Series: The New Deal at Tumacácori The grounds of Tumacácori protect a map of treasures made by men and women during the New Deal era of the 1930's. Will you find them all? black and white photo of young men and truck in walled courtyard garden Series: Defining the Southwest The Southwest has a special place in the American imagination – one filled with canyon lands, cacti, roadrunners, perpetual desert heat, a glaring sun, and the unfolding of history in places like Tombstone and Santa Fe. In the American mind, the Southwest is a place without boundaries – a land with its own style and its own pace – a land that ultimately defies a single definition. Maize agriculture is one component of a general cultural definition of the Southwest. Series: SCPN-NAU School of Communication Collaboration The Southern Colorado Plateau Network (SCPN) of the National Park Service has been partnering with the Northern Arizona University (NAU) School of Communication since 2011 to develop student multimedia projects that highlight resources and activities in network parks. This collaboration gives NAU students hands-on experience in creating multimedia projects and provides network parks with products that can help to promote their unique resources and scientific or educational project work. SCPN-NAU student projects Two for the Price of One Companion, assistant, confidant, ambassador, host, nurse, cook, secretary, editor, field technician, wildlife wrangler, diplomat, and social director are some of the many roles that people who marry into the NPS perform in support of their spouses and the NPS mission. Although the wives and daughters of park rangers were some of the earliest women rangers in the NPS, many more women served as “park wives” in the 1920s–1940s. Three members of a family What Did You Call Me? Only 17 women park rangers are documented from 1918 to 1927. Perhaps another three or four are hinted at in the records. Even so, the total number was probably still only around 20. Most histories of the NPS, however, put the total number of women rangers much lower. The difference isn’t just a simple matter of math. It goes to the heart of the question “What makes a ranger?” female ranger in uniform at a desk Substitute Rangers As the 1940s dawned, the United States was still dealing with the economic woes of the Great Depression and trying not to get drawn in WWII. Even as it continued to manage New Deal Program work in national and state parks, the NPS remained understaffed as a government bureau. The emergency relief workers and about 15 percent of NPS staff enlisted or were drafted during the first couple of years of WWII. Winifred Tada, 1940. (Courtesy of the Honolulu Star-Bulletin) Changing Patterns of Water Availability May Change Vegetation Composition in US National Parks Across the US, changes in water availability are altering which plants grow where. These changes are evident at a broad scale. But not all areas experience the same climate in the same way, even within the boundaries of a single national park. A new dataset gives park managers a valuable tool for understanding why vegetation has changed and how it might change in the future under different climate-change scenarios. Green, orange, and dead grey junipers in red soil, mountains in background Water Resources on the Colorado Plateau Describes the origin, uses, threats to, and conservation of water on the Colorado Plateau. Dark green body of water winding through red rock formations with brilliant sun overhead. The Resource Stewardship Scout Ranger Program Brings BSA Scouts and National Parks Together To connect more youth to their local communities, NPS created the Resource Stewardship Scout Ranger Program in partnership with the Boy Scouts of America, which welcomes boys, girls, and young adults to participate. Through this program, BSA Scouts and Cub Scouts can earn award certificates and may also receive a patch. Learn more in this article. William Kai, a Cub Scout, holds up his Resource Stewardship Scout Ranger Certificate Award Ranger Roll Call, 1930-1939 Few women worked in uniformed positions in the 1930s but those who did weren't only ranger-checkers or ranger-naturalists. Jobs as guides, historians, archeologists, and in museums opened to more women. Seven women in Park Service uniforms stand in line inside a cave. Ranger Roll Call, 1940-1949 Only a small number of women held temporary ranger positions in national parks during World War II. Carlsbad Caverns National Park, national monuments in the Southwest, and historical sites in the East continued to employ more women. Although a few women veterans benefitted from post-war veteran hiring programs, most veterans were men and permanent positions became even more difficult for women to get. Catherine Byrnes and Barbara Dickinson stand outside modeling the NPS uniform. Ranger Roll Call, 1950-1959 In the 1950s, women in uniform continue to work as guides, historians, and archeologists. Few women had permanent positions. A handful of women began to get seasonal ranger-naturalists positions at large national parks for the first time in two decades. Ann Livesay in her NPS uniform standing in front of a low wall at the edge of the Grand Canyon. National Parks in the History of Science: Dendrochronology (Video) Scientists around the world use tree rings to understand past climates, ecosystems, and cultures. The study of tree rings to understand the past is called dendrochronology. This field of science began in several national parks in the Southwest: Mesa Verde, Aztec Ruins, Chaco Culture, and others. a black and white photo of tree rings close up Series: Parks in Science History Parks in Science History is a series of articles and videos made in cooperation with graduate students from various universities. They highlight the roles that national parks have played in the history of science and, therefore, the world's intellectual heritage. A woman looking through binoculars Old Spanish Trail at Aztec Ruins Waysides Audio descriptions and transcripts for two waysides at the Old Spanish Trail Retracement at Aztec Ruins National Monument Guide to the Thomas J. Allen Photograph Collection Finding aid for the Thomas J. Allen Photographs in the NPS History Collection. 50 Nifty Finds #17: Common Threads Each National Park Service (NPS) employee has a unique story. We can't tell them all, but sometimes there's a personal account—like that of Sallie Pierce Brewer Van Valkenburg Harris—that speaks to common experiences. Although her NPS connections ran from 1933 to 1971, many of her joys, challenges, and frustrations can still be recognized in the NPS today. Sallie's story resonates regardless of era, gender, or position. How will it speak to you? Sallie Brewer in her NPS uniform standing at a gate Making an Impact: Long-Term Monitoring of Natural Resources at Intermountain Region National Parks, 2021 Across the Intermountain Region, Inventory & Monitoring Division ecologists are helping to track the effects of climate change, provide baseline information for resource management, evaluate new technologies, and inspire the next generation of park stewards. This article highlights accomplishments achieved during fiscal year 2021. A man looks through binoculars at sunrise. Testing Treatments for Mitigating Climate-Change Effects on Adobe Structures in the National Parks In the US Southwest, climate change is making it harder to preserve historic adobe structures for future generations. Using adobe test walls and rainshower simulators, staff at the Desert Research Learning Center are evaluating the potential for increased erosion, and testing the effectiveness of different treatments methods to protect against it. The results will help park managers tailor their preservation methods to better protect culturally valuable resources. American flag viewed through the remains of an adobe doorway. The Plateau Postcard: Spring-Summer 2023 The Plateau Postcard is the official newsletter of the Southern Colorado Plateau Inventory and Monitoring Network. In this issue, we say hello to many new faces within the network and head to the field with some of this year's spectacular monitoring crews. Pile of postcards with images of various southwest national parks on them. A Changing Bimodal Climate Zone Means Changing Vegetation in Western National Parks When the climate changes enough, the vegetation communities growing in any given place will also change. Under an expanded bimodal climate zone, some plant communities in western national parks are more likely to change than others. National Park Service ecologists and partners investigated the future conditions that may force some of this change. Having this information can help park managers decide whether to resist, direct, or accept the change. Dark storm clouds and rainbow over mountains and saguaros. 50 Nifty Finds #32: A New Deal for Artists The Works Progress Administration (WPA) did for National Park Service (NPS) education programs what the better-known Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) did for park roads, trails, and buildings. Many artists—including a large number of women—were hired with WPA funding to create art and exhibits in parks around the country. Natasha D. Smith was one of those women. She led a life dedicated to art, wildlife, and environmental conservation. Natasha Smith sits working on a clay model of an extinct horse. Project Profile: Expand Southwest Seed Partnership for Intermountain Region Parks The National Park Service and organizations of the Southwest Seed Partnership will implement the National Seed Strategy and associated revegetation and ecosystem restoration efforts. The project focuses on native plant development and involves collecting, producing, cleaning, testing, tracking, and storing seeds from native species. grasses and shrubs on a hillside National Park Service project to build up 'workhorse' native seed stocks for major restoration and revegetation efforts The National Park Service, with funds from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, will be able to build up stocks of the native workhorse plant species that can out compete invasive plant species so that native grasses and forbs can grow in previously disturbed areas.  a man kneels next to a bucket collecting seeds in a field Archeoastronomy in Stone People in the past carved petroglyphs and painted pictographs to mark the cycle of the sun, moon, and stars; solstices; and the changing seasons. They tracked time by creating solar calendars that interacted with light and shadow as the sun moved across the sky. When unique astronomical events took place, they documented the moment in stone. Learn more about the purpose for these images. Four images of light touching rock. NPS photo. Data Publication Brief - Aquatic Macroinvertebrates and Upland Vegetation/Soils The data packages for all our long-term monitoring efforts across the Southern Colorado Plateau are the foundations for almost everything we do here. We recently underwent our biggest effort yet in reformatting our data to fit the new standards put out by the Inventory & Monitoring Division. We are proud to announce that two of our largest datasets have now been published and are available for everyone to utilize. A split image, one side is a stonefly insect and the other side is a white flower. The Plateau Postcard: Winter 2024 The Plateau Postcard is the official newsletter of the Southern Colorado Plateau Inventory and Monitoring Network. In this issue, we learn about how we are trying to predict pinyon-juniper die-offs, as well as a new tool we developed to help make us all better field scientists, and we hear from Bob Parmenter about his remarkable career at Valles Caldera National Preserve. A pile of postcards.
Aztec Ruins National Park Service U.S. Department of the Interior National Monument Ceramics at Aztec Ruins Pottery attracts people for different reasons. To many, designs seem to be the most intriguing and eyecatching aspect of Pueblo pottery. Even on a potsherd lying in the weeds, a black decoration on a stark white background rarely fails to attract attention. To an archeologist, pottery is one of the best detective tools available. Prehistoric ceramics have characteristics such as color, shape, design and type of finish that enable the archaeologist to answer such questions as who, when, and where. To modern Pueblo potters, prehistoric potsherds represent a sacred thread to an ancestral past. Often, the pottery was purposely broken and left behind as an offering to the ancestors. Early Ceramics in the Four Corners Area The earliest pottery of the Four Corners region were utilitywares - plain brown and gray pots used for everyday cooking and storage. The potter coiled ropes of clay, one atop the other, then pinched them together, smoothed the outer surface, and polished the vessel with a stone. The final step of wood firing hardened the clay for durability. About AD 950, the potters began to add indentations that gave the pots an attractive corrugated appearance. Whiteware made its debut around AD 600 . Storage jars, bowls, pitchers, ladles, and mugs were made from clays that turned white when fired. Using mineral and plant pigments, black-on-white pottery was created when designs were painted on the white colored clay before they were fired. At the same time, a similar development was occurring in southeastern Utah and northeastern Arizona with production of redwares: back-on-red pottery made with red clays and painted with black or dark brown pigments. Decorated pottery spread rapidly across the Southwest through trade networks. Over the next 700 years, designs became more intricate and refined. These designs created a chronology that is used to date archeological sites today. Ceramics at Aztec Within the chronology of regional pottery, Aztec Ruins is a relatively late site: pottery produced before AD 1000 is not found here. Nevertheless, the extensive pottery collection of the site, with more than 40 different types, suggests that the people here imported thousands of decorated pots. Pottery from the Mesa Verde region included some graywares, and several styles of whitewares. A lesser number of imports came from the Chaco area. Some whitewares also came from the Chuska Valley west of Chaco and the Kayenta region in northeastern Arizona. Although no redwares were made at Aztec Ruins, there were many from the Zuni area to the south and the Kayenta region. The few brownwares found here came from the Mogollon area to the south. These ceramics are corrugated, red-slipped, or plain and usually highly polished. The potters at Aztec Ruins produced corrugated graywares and painted whitewares. Some of the same designs, that are found on whitewares made in other regions and traded into Aztec Ruins are common on the five whiteware styles made here (Sosi, Dogoszhi, Chaco, McElmo and Mesa Verde.) Rare ceramic forms and vessel shapes found here include animal and human effigies, flat rectangular bowls, cylindrical jars and “spiked” pots. Many researches say that the pot on the left resembles a seed pod from the datura plant, leading some to theorize that this pot was directly associated with prehistoric datura use. Another explanation from one of the modern day Pueblos is that this pottery represents the horned toad and is used for medicine. The pot to its right has often been interpreted as a fish, a frog and, according to one Pueblo, a tadpole used to treat infertility. Numerous cylindrical jars (not pictured) were found here, similar to cylindrical jars found at Chaco Culture National Historical Park. Research and testing has shown that the jars from Chaco contain cacao residue. It may be an indication of special or ceremonial use for these rare ceramic pieces. For more information about this research refer to the web site at the University of NM, http://www. unm.edu/~market/cgi-bin/archives/003595.html. Aztec Black is a style of pottery found only at Aztec Ruins. Produced in the 1200s, this style is a local adaptation of a pottery technique practiced by the neighboring Mogollon culture in southern New Mexico. These vessels are completely smudged black with a highly polished surface. This is the only known use of complete vessel smudging in the San Juan Basin. According to one archaeologist, the size, shape and color of Aztec Black vessels suggest their use was very limited, perhaps for a special group. Could the smudged black pots made here have been made by migrant potters from the Mogollon region to the south? Embedded in the Clay The forces that shaped the fabric of ancestral Pueblo life are recorded in the pottery and sherds found throughout the area. The economy of the household, who they traded with,
Aztec Ruins National Park Service U.S. Department of the Interior National Monument Echoes from the Past Ancient Traditions The traditions of the modern Pueblo people have been practiced for over a thousand years. The songs and ceremonies of ancient times survive through their continued practice and the oral history of the people. Music is one of the only traditions shared by all cultures around the world, and it was certainly a central part of ancestral Pueblo society. Archeological sites across the Southwest, from Great Houses to pit structures, reveal the extensive collection of instruments that defined ancestral Pueblo music. Bells, Shells, and Trumpets Some instruments found in sites like Aztec Ruins were items for which the ancestral Pueblo people had to trade. They obtained shells and copper bells through their trade networks. Copper bells came from what is now Mexico. These bells are still used today and have been used as clothing adornments that jingle as the dancers move. worn on bandoliers or sashes across the chest to make sound as the dancer moves. Much larger shells were used as shell trumpets. These murex shells originated from the Gulf of California. One of these instruments can be heard from miles away! Conus shells, used as tinklers, came from what is now California. Like the bells, these tinklers have been attached to clothing and Rasps and Rattles Not all instruments came from trade. Many were made from materials readily available to the ancestral Pueblo. Rasps are typically made of bone. For these instruments, an unmodified stick or bone is rubbed across a notched bone to produce a sound. to the Four Corners region, were made of clay. Clay rattles in particular were usually mugs or ladles with hollow compartments that contained small pellets of clay or stone (photo below). Most rattles were made of hollowed out gourd, filled with seeds or small pebbles. Other rattles, generally confined Whistles and Flutes Bone whistles are perhaps the most common musical instrument found in archeological sites throughout the southwest. This instrument is capable of only one or two tones and may have been used to imitate bird calls for either hunting or ceremonial purposes. Flutes, in contrast with the limited tone production of whistles, are capable of producing three or more tones. Most of the flutes found were made of wood and reed, while only a few were made of bone. Drums Though drums are prominent in modern Pueblo society, there have been no drums recognized in the archeological record of the ancestral Pueblo culture of Aztec Ruins National Monument. A few explanations exist for this phenomenon. Another theory claiming the existence of drums in this culture is the use of the Great Kiva vaults as foot drums. This is probably the most widely accepted theory, with evidence from both archeology and oral tradition of the descendents of the ancestral Pueblos. Drums of the past may have been constructed in a way that we cannot recognize them as such today. Examples of such drums might be ones made of ceramic, basketry, or gourds. Over time, the membrane of the drum would deteriorate, leaving behind what seems to be a pot, basket, or gourd fragment. Voice A commonly overlooked instrument is the voice. The human body is capable of creating hundreds of sounds, so it makes sense that cultures around the world make use of this talent while creating music. While the voice cannot be left behind as an archeological artifact, it is acknowledged that this musical instrument was well used since the earliest dates of human existence. From Past to Present Many of the instruments from ages ago are still used today in the ceremonies and songs of the modern Pueblo people. Pueblos throughout New Mexico as well as Hopi in Arizona are open to public visitation during the year. The modern Pueblo people have hundreds, if not thousands, of songs for almost every aspect of life. For corn grinding alone, the Pueblo have over one hundred songs. Like their descendents, the ancestral Pueblo people used the human voice as an expression of their sacred songs and ceremonial prayers. Some also welcome outsiders for special feast days, which are a unique blend of modern (sometimes Catholic) and ancient traditions. If you visit on a feast day, you will hear instruments that may be very similar to the ones used in ancient times. You will hear echoes from the past. The Modern Pueblo People EXPERIENCE YOUR AMERICA
Aztec Ruins National Park Service U.S. Department of the Interior National Monument Designing Aztec Ruins Planned Design The ancestral Pueblos, not the Aztecs, built the elaborate stone structure you’re visiting today and occupied it for approximately two centuries, between 1100 and 1300 AD. Within miles of Aztec’s West Ruin are scores of other structures, indicating an extensive, planned community. Clearly, construction of this magnitude required well organized teams of workers and substantial forethought. Despite such deliberate design, the use of the building probably changed over time. As you tour the site, consider the ways in which it was planned, renovated, and repaired much like modern cities. What is a Great House? Aztec’s West Ruin is regarded architecturally as a “Great House.” With approximately 400 rooms and 30 kivas, West Ruin is the largest known Great House outside of Chaco Canyon. Chaco Great Houses are large, typically multi-storied stone buildings on a formal plan, with core-and-veneer walls, large rooms, plazas, and usually one or more Great Kivas. Unlike small houses, they show evidence of community-wide activites. The structure was used as a gathering place, ceremonial center, trade center, work area, and storage. Most archeologists agree that this building was probably not originally intended for habitation; most people lived in small, one-story dwellings nearby. However, evidence suggests that people may have lived in some rooms of the Great House in later years. Phases of Construction Construction of Aztec’s West Ruin was episodic and rapid. In fact, the majority of Aztec West was completed in only 30 years! (For comparison, Pueblo Bonito in Chaco Canyon took almost 300 years to build.) The first walls built in the West Ruin were those of Kiva L (stop #15) around 1100 AD. This preliminary contruction, outlined in dashed blue, is referred to as Stage 1. Ten years later, approximately 1110 AD, the largest period of construction began at Aztec West. During this episode, referred to as Stage 2 and outlined in red on the map, multi-story rooms in the north and east wings were constructed. Archeologists estimate that about half of the entire Great House was built within this decade. · · · · Stage 1 (1100 - 1109) · · · · Stage 2 (1110 - 1120) · · · · Stage 3 (1120 - 1130) The last episode of major new construction began around 1120 AD. During this episode, referred to as Stage 3 and outlined in green on the map, multi-story construction of rooms in the west wing took place. These three stages, which occurred within a span of 30 years, account for the majority of the construction at Aztec West. Two phases of renovation to this Great House occurred after the initial, rapid construction. During the McElmo renovation phase in the late 1100s, outlined in pink, inhabitants demolished rooms in the eastern north wing and far southwestern end of the site and inserted numerous large, blocked-in first story kivas. Additionally, a line of new plaza-facing rooms were added. During the Mesa Verde renovation phase in the mid 1200s, outlined in blue, inhabitants subdivided rooms, added sunken kivas to second-story rooms, and constructed new roofs. It was during this time that a change in the use of the building may have occurred. The building may have been more heavily used for habitation, and room use included storage, tombs, and latrines. · · · · Renovation phase 1 (late 1100s) · · · · Renovation phase 2 (mid 1200s) Astronomical Alignments Many researchers are particularly interested in the way ancestral Pueblos incorporated the movement of the sun and the moon into their architecture. No one can prove that the alignments we observe today were intentional, but the fact that they are found in major sites all over the region suggests that solar and lunar alignments were a signature feature for ancestral Pueblo builders. The long, straight back wall of Aztec West marks both the summer and winter solstices. From the west corner of the wall, you can watch the summer solstice sun rise directly up the east corner. From the east corner, you can watch the winter solstice sun set down the west corner. (Above) Archeologist Rich Friedman documenting the 2006 winter solstice sunset. (Left) Photograph of 2012 summer solstice sunrise by archeologist Gary Brown. The ancient people may have designed these alignments to keep a precise agricultural calendar, marking the best times for planting and harvesting crops. The alignments probably tracked a ceremonial calendar as well. Modern Pueblos still relate the sun, moon, and stars to their religious lives. Some still have traditions for choosing and training sunwatchers, people who are responsible for reading the seasons from the movement of the sun. Distinctive Characteristics Core-and-Veneer Masonry (Above left) Mesa Verde masonry (Above right) Chaco masonry Archeologists often use tree ring dating to figure out when walls were constructed, but masonry s
Aztec Ruins National Park Service U.S. Department of the Interior National Monument Resources Near and Far Trade What was available locally ? The people of Aztec Ruins skillfully utilized the raw materials and resources they found in their environment to make tools, process food, fabricate clothing, create art and build their structures. They traveled long distances and maintained extensive trade networks to obtain resources that were not locally available to them. As you tour the ruins today, think about our society today and how incredibly dependent we are on trade networks. What plants and animals do you use around your house? What do you need to travel to the store to obtain? What do you have to order from far away? Bighorn sheep, deer, elk, bears, rodents, turkeys and various other bird species were found in this area and used for a multitude of purposes. Bones were fashioned into awls, scrapers, beads, whistles, needles and gaming pieces, while feathers and hides were used to make warm blankets, robes, and footwear. Sinew (tendon) was wrapped around the end of reed arrows and knives to prevent splitting. Limestone, siltstone and sandstone were locally available. They quarried stones from outcrops and collected stones from river bottoms and shaped them into tools such as hammer stones, mauls, axes, manos, and metates. They used stone tools to shape rock for constructing their buildings. Prehistoric mauls and hammers were found here and at sandstone quarries three to five miles from Aztec Ruins. Juniper, piñon pine, and cottonwood trees were used for a variety of things. For example, juniper was used as fuel and construction materials, piñon pitch was used to waterproof baskets. What could they obtain nearby The people of Aztec Ruins obtained obsidian (volcanic glass) from the Jemez Mountain area, about 85 miles southwest of here. They chipped the obsidian into projectile points and sharp cutting tools such as knives, scrapers and blades. The ancestral Pueblos also traveled 125 miles, to an area just south of Santa Fe, to collect turquoise. Turquoise was used to make jewelry such as pendants, ear ornaments, beads bracelets and other body ornaments. Ponderosa pine, Douglas fir, and aspen were hauled by foot more than 40 miles from the San Juan Mountains to build the site. Local native shrubs and plants such as yucca, greasewood, sage, four-wing saltbrush, willows and rushes were used. Yucca fibers were used as cordage while yucca leaves were woven to make sandals and paintbrushes and the ends used as needles. Rushes and willow branches were used to construct arrows. Hematite, selenite, and crystalized gypsum were collected locally. Hematite was used to make hammers, cylindrical paint sticks, pigments and beads while flakes of selenite and gypsum were fashioned into pendants. What did they trade for? What did they have to trade? The ancestral Pueblos had extensive trade networks extending to northern Mexico and the Gulf of California. Three skulls, a skeleton and one feather of a macaw from Mexico (still retaining its blue and red colors) were found. These colorful feathers were valued for their beauty and rarity and used in ceremonies. Copper objects such as bells and beads were also found here having been traded from Mexico. Shells were traded from the Gulf of Mexico and used to make jewelry. Shells of at least nine different species were found here. Walnut shells were used as beads and charms. Walnut trees are not native to this region, but do grow in southwestern New Mexico and Arizona. Twisted and braided cotton cord as well as cotton cloth found in the site were likely obtained from southern Arizona and Utah. As mentioned, the Pueblos here at Aztec aquired needed or desired objects such as salt, cotton, shells, or macaw feathers. What did they trade in return for these objects? Aztec Ruins lies within a stones throw of the Animas River and close to the confluence of three rivers, enabling access to numerous water sources and relatively fertile land. With the addition of hand-dug irrigation canals, it became an excellent area for farming. Corn, squash, and beans were grown and traded to others for goods not available locally. Extensive trade networks Just as our modern society maintains extensive trade networks within our own country and around the world, the ancestral Pueblos here at Aztec utilized resources near and far. The diagram to the left shows areas where they obtained certain goods illustrating the extent to which the Pueblos interacted and traded with people within the Four Corners area and 1. Salt (approx. 300 miles away) 2. Shells (approx. 500 miles away) 3. Cotton (approx. 250 miles away) 4. Macaws (from northern Mexico) 5. Copper bells (from northern Mexico) 6. Turquoise (approx. 125 miles away) 7. Obsidian (approx. 85 miles away) 8. Lumber for construction (approx. 40 miles away) 9. Materials locally available: corn, yucca, deer, juniper, piñon, turkey, stones, etc. EX
Aztec Ruins National Park Service U.S. Department of the Interior National Monument Native Plants Ethnobotany Regardless of place or time, every human has basic needs that must be met: shelter, fuel, food, clothes, tools and medicine. The Ancestral Pueblo people were no exception, and they expertly used the local plant life to meet these needs. Ethnobotany is the study of how people use (and have used) plants. Most plant remains from Ancestral Pueblo times have since perished. Fortunately, due to the high quality of preservation at Aztec Ruins, a considerable number of plant remains have survived. Plant remains were found during excavations in trash deposits and intact, roofed rooms. They include perishable artifacts like baskets, sandals, cotton clothing and twine, and desiccated human feces. Ethnobotanists analyzed these ancient plant remains and, combined with oral stories passed down through generations and current known uses, have inferred ways in which Ancestral Pueblos used the native flora. The following plants were utilized by the Ancestral Pueblos and are still used by modern peoples. Most are still found at Aztec Ruins. Use this bulletin in conjunction with your guide book as you tour the ruins. Stop #1 Sagebrush (Artemesian tridentata) Sagebrush flowers, seeds and leaves were used extensively by the Ancestral Pueblos. The leaves are a good source of iron and vitamin C. Medicinally, sagebrush is known to be an antihelmintic (expels parasitic worms). The leaves make a tea used for bathing wounds and combating digestive and respiratory tract problems, headaches and colds. Sagebrush wood is used as fuel because it burns hot. The smoke is used as a fumigant in ceremonies Stop #6 Utah Juniper (Juniperus osteosperma) (look to the left at the top of the steps). Juniper berries were eaten and used to season meat. Women drank juniper-sprig tea during labor or immediately after childbirth. With sagebrush, juniper is used to treat indigestion. Juniper bark was used for cordage, insulation, roofing material and even pillows, toilet paper, and baby diapers. Juniper wood was heavily used in construction and the stems and branches of junipers were used for arrow shafts, bows, cradleboards, basket frames, ladders and knife handles. Juniper ash is still used in cooking. Stop # 18 Globe Mallow (sphaeralcea coccinea) The roots of globemallow were used to treat snakebites and sores to draw out venom and as an anti-inflammatory. A paste made from the roots was used to make casts for broken bones and used in hardening adobe floors. A mixture of globemallow roots and cholla fruits was used to treat diarrhea. The leaves were rubbed on sore muscles and ground-up to treat rheumatism. The Navajo use globe mallow as a medicine to treat stomach aches, as a tonic to improve appetites and to cure coughs and colds.They also dry the leaves and use them as tobacco. Stop # 18 Fourwing Saltbush (Atriplex canescens) Stop #19 (east of the great kiva): Yucca (Yucca elata) Ancestral Pueblo people collected saltbush seeds for food to make a mush or bread. Saltbush wood was collected for fuel and ash was mixed with blue cornmeal to maintain the blue coloring in certain foods and often used to bring out the color in items. Saltbush ash is also used in cooking. Yucca fruits are often eaten raw or baked and yucca roots were used as soap. The fibers were processed, twisted, braided and wound together and used for wearing, manufacturing and construction. Yucca cordage was used for lashing house beams, fixing ladder rungs, making blankets, belts, bowstrings, nets and sewing animal skin robes together. Hairbrushes made from the pointed ends of yucca fibers were discovered here at Aztec. Note: this particular species of yucca is not native to this area and has been planted here at Aztec Ruins. Stop #21 (turn around): Cottonwood (Populus fremontii) Cottonwood was used as roof beams and in the construction of hearths, fire-drills, bows, awls and wooden tablets. Dead cottonwood trees with rotted centers are still commonly used in the making of drums as they were in historic times. Cottonwood was often burned in summer because the flame burns bright but the fire does not produce much heat. The drooping flower clusters were eaten in early spring. The Hopi use the roots to make kachina doll carvings. Stop #21: Piñon pine (Piñus edulis) Pine nuts were important for their nutrition and high calories, providing a source of complete protein, as well as potassium. The nuts were toasted before being stored for winter. In winter, cones were put on hot coals, forcing them to spring open. The nuts are ground with corn, used as flour and also eaten fresh or parched. Piñon pitch is used to mend cracks in pottery, waterproof baskets and is applied to cuts and sores to protect them from exposure to air. Many people chewed on pitch as gum. The gum could also be burned and the smoke inhaled after death by a family for protection against sorcery. M
Aztec Ruins National Park Service U.S. Department of the Interior National Monument Dendrochronology The present is the key to the past The study of tree rings, dendrochronology, is far more than just counting rings - it’s a method of scientific dating based on the analysis of tree ring growth patterns. Trees are excellent indicators of the natural environment and provide researchers with annual historical ecological information. Dendrochronology can answer important questions pertaining to when a structure was built, how long it was inhabited, when people left and why. As you tour the site, take time to examine the remarkable intact wood that remains from the people that lived here 900 years ago. Due to high quality preservation, Aztec Ruins has more original wood than any other site in the Southwest making dendrochronology especially important here. In fact, the father of dendrochonology, Andrew E. Douglass, first dated beams pulled from this site and described Aztec as the structure “whose beams began the ancient tree-ring calendar.” Formation of a tree ring We learn in elementary school that the number of rings on a tree corresponds to its age. This means that a tree adds a ring (a layer of wood cells) every year. After a winter of no growth, the wood cells in a tree begin to form in early spring. These fast-forming, thin-walled cells formed early in the spring appear lighter in color and are called earlywood. As the tree nears the end of its growing season, its growth slows and it produces thicker-walled cells, termed latewood. These latewood cells appear darker than the earlywood cells. The beginning of earlywood formation and the end of the latewood formation form one annual ring (see diagram). Indicators of Environmental Conditions In order to examine tree ring patterns, dendrochronologists extract tree cores. A tree core is a pencil-sized sample of the radius of a tree. Tree rings are excellent records of our natural environment. The size of a tree ring reflects the growing conditions that tree experienced during that year. In warm and wet years, trees form wide rings and in cool and dry years, trees form narrow rings. Increment borer used to extract tree core. While temperature and precipitation are the major factors that influence tree ring widths, other factors can also influence growth. Forest fires, insect outbreaks, nutrient availability and other conditions such as competition from neighboring trees can also influence the size of a tree ring. Tree core extracted from a ponderosa pine Crossdating Because tree rings are influenced by climate and weather, trees growing in the same area, under relatively similar conditions will show similar growth patterns. Overlapping ring patterns from live trees, dead trees and ancient wood from the same region create long tree ring “chronologies”. This ring-pattern matching process, called cross-dating, was developed in the early 1900s by Andrew E. Douglass. These chronologies provide an annual historical climatic timeline stretching back thousands of years. Douglass’s technique of extending chronologies back through time was a huge breakthrough because it enabled dendrochronologists to date wooden beams from ancient structures of unknown age. Aztec Ruins tree rings Tree rings from wood found here at Aztec Ruins can tell us about many aspects of ancestral Pueblo life. To determine the year in which the structure was built, dendrochronologists examine the outermost ring on wooden beams. This ring represents the year the tree was cut (the last year the tree was alive), and likely the year that this tree was used in construction. The graph to the right displays the outer ring date of beams recovered from the site. The graph clearly indicates that Aztec Ruins was built in two phases – one around 1111 and one around 1118. Tree rings also indicate that the structure was inhabited for approximately 200 years. During the habitation (1100s and 1200s), the people were constantly replacing broken beams in the structure. The last tree used in construction at Aztec was cut in 1269. Tree rings from ancient wooden beams contain valuable historic climatic data. Through analysis of narrow and wide rings, we know that the ancestral Pueblo people weathered many droughts of several years during the 200 years they lived here. Two expecially severe droughts occured. The first began around 1130 and lasted 50-60 years. This drought may have encouraged migration from Chaco Canyon to the Animas River valley. The second began around 1276 and persisted at least 24 years. Without sufficient moisture, crops failed and storage supplies ran low. This severe drought, combined with inevitable resource depletion that occurred over time, is thought to have eventually led to the migration from the Four Corners area by 1300. Tree rings not only tell us what year the tree was cut down but can even tell us what season ancestral Pueblos harvested their wood. In the rooms that contai

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