My Public Lands

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    The Canyons of the Ancients National Monument in southwestern Colorado contains a huge number of archaeological sites— more than 6000 recorded so far, and up to 100 per square mile in some places— representing Ancestral Puebloan and other Native American cultures. This photo is of the grand kiva of Escalante Pueblo, a compact village on a hilltop overlooking the Dolores River. Archaeologists believe it was occupied three different times, based on tree-ring dating of the wood used in its construction. Ancestral Pueblo people built the main complex in AD 1129 and lived there for at least nine years. The Spanish explorers Escalante and Dominguez made note of this site in 1776 during their trek across the Southwest. The architecture and masonry indicate that Escalante Pueblo was one of the northernmost settlements influenced by the culture of Chaco Canyon, New Mexico, about 100 miles south. Some archaeologists speculate that such villages were part of an interdependent system spread across the Four Corners area. Escalante may have been a gathering place for religious or social activities of people in the smaller surrounding villages.

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