Aztec Ruins

Aztec Ruins National Monument

Aztec Ruins National Monument is an ancestral Puebloan site on the north edge of Aztec, New Mexico, 14 miles northeast of Farmington.  It was declared Aztec Ruin National Monument on January 24, 1923, and with a boundary change it was renamed Aztec Ruins National Monument on July 2, 1928.  The National Monument was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on October 15, 1966.  Aztec Ruins was added to the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites, as part of the Chaco Culture National Historical Park, on December 8, 1987.  The Great Kiva at Aztec West was reconstructed by archeologist Earl Morris in 1934.  The Hubbard Tri-wall kiva at the site has been backfilled to preserve it from further damage.  Both kivas are part of the Aztec West Ruin which is open to the public.  The partially-excavated Aztec East Ruin in the Monument is closed to the public.  We have a Google Earth view of the east ruins, and the east ruins are included in both maps.

Construction of the Aztec settlements began in the late 11th century and had two distinct phases, separated by many decades of inactivity, and ended around 1300 as the residents moved away.  They probably moved to neighboring areas such as the pueblos of the Rio Grande valley and the present day Hopi and Navajo reservations in Arizona.  The reason they vacated the area is likely the same as in other Four Corners area Ancestral Puebloan communities - because of drought or the loss of fertility of the surrounding lands.  The village was slowly covered by the desert sands and remained unvisited until rediscovery in 1859.  Years of sporadic looting and several archaeological expeditions followed until 1923 when the ruins received protection as the national monument was established.  The site is still considered sacred by many Southwestern tribes.

View Photos is an auto-show of Aztec Ruins photos in the Photo Gallery.  The Aztec Ruins Map includes the closed Aztec Ruins East section of the Monument.  The Large Aztec Map, also from NPS, sometimes opens with scroll bars to view the whole thing, other times does not - it's the inconsistency that bothers us.  There are many Ancestral Puebloan sites along the Trail of the Ancients in the area around the Four Corners Monument - the greatest concentration of these sites north of Mexico.