The Medieval World, C. 400–1300

North America

What is the Cliff Palace at Mesa Verde?

The Cliff Palace at Mesa Verde in Colorado was built by the Anasazi people, who lived in the Four Corners area of the American Southwest for thousands of years, and are considered ancestors of the Pueblo people. Before the fourteenth century, the area was less arid and a slightly cooler than it is now and the Anasazi lived by irrigating the land for farming. They built dwellings in natural cliff alcoves, directly underneath the land they farmed. The dwellings, which are among the most dramatic and best-preserved examples of Native American architecture, were designed for special purposes such as food storage and religious ritual. Some of the dwellings have as many as 150 rooms and are essentially cave-villages. Another structure, Pueblo Bonito, was also built by ancestral Pueblo people as early as the ninth century.


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