Canyons of the Ancients

Canyons of the Ancients National Monument

Canyons of the Ancients National Monument is a national monument protecting an archaeologically-significant landscape located in the southwestern region of the U.S. state of Colorado.  The monument was proclaimed in order to preserve the largest concentration of archaeological sites in the United States, primarily Ancestral Puebloan ruins.  As of 2005, over 6,000 individual archeological sites had been identified within the monument.  Canyons of the Ancients encompasses and surrounds three of the four separate sections of Hovenweep National Monument.  [Wikipedia]

Humans have been part of this landscape for at least 10,000 years.  The pre-Puebloan people called Basketmakers migrated into the area about 1500 BC.  They were primarily hunter-gatherers but, unlike earlier inhabitants, they are associated with the earliest traces of corn agriculture.  They excelled at basketry, and interacted with a wider cultural region including Mesa Verde and beyond.  By about AD 750 their architecture had developed from pit house clusters into square-roomed "pueblo" style villages.  They developed excellent pottery and farmed extensively.

Factors including population growth, soil exhaustion, and changing rain/snow patterns began to reduce the natural resources of the area.  By about 1300 AD the Ancestral Puebloans had migrated south, east, and west to where their descendants live today as the modern Native Indians in the Four Corners area.  Some archaeologists refer to a suspected 23-year drought as a possible cause of their migration.   [in part, from the BLM]

This monument is huge with thousands of sites.  We have photos from Todd Lochmoeller's Four Corners Hikes gallery of many photos, with others from different sources, to highlight this rugged area, an extensive archaeological and cultural record.