you begin your investigation into why the ancient Pueblo people (Anasazi) chose to live
on the edge of this steep canyon, you will need a little background
information. This page tells you the who, what, where,
and when of Woods Canyon
Who: The ancient Pueblo people, also known as the Anasazi, lived in the
Four Corners region of the Colorado Plateau from 1000 B.C. to A.D.
1300. They built villages of stone, wood, and adobe.
Some villages consisted of only a few families, but others had hundreds
of Tesuque Pueblo shares her ideas about childhood in an ancient
on the drawings of the kids to read Virgie's perspectives.
ancient times, the Pueblo people were farmers. They grew corn, beans,
and squash and raised domesticated turkeys and dogs. They also gathered
wild plants and hunted animals. The people made many impressive
tools out of stone, wood, and bone, but they are probably best known
for their beautiful painted pottery and dramatic cliff dwellings.
people continue to live in other parts of the Southwest. They honor
the traditions of their ancient ancestors while living in a modern
world. Click on the button to learn more
about modern Pueblo people.
What: Woods Canyon Pueblo is the site of an ancient village that archaeologists
believe had more than 200 buildings, which was a fairly large village
in those days. It might have been home to as many as 50 to 200 people. Click on the button
to see a map of the site.
Pueblo villages had more than one kind of building. They had clusters
of small, rectangular rooms constructed aboveground that were used
for living and storage. Usually to the south of this "roomblock"
would be an open space, or plaza.
The plaza was used for working, for relaxing, and for social and
to the south of the roomblock were one or more round structures
called kivas, which were built
underground and were probably used for both religious ceremonies
and everyday living. A ladder placed in a hole in the roof would
have allowed people to get in and out of these structures. Because
kivas were belowground, they would have stayed warm during the
Southwest's cold, snowy winters.
Pueblo villages often had towers,
too. These tall structures might have been used as watchtowers,
solar observatories, or ceremonial buildings; they also could
have been used for storage of food or other items. It is even
possible that towers were used for different purposes at different
|Where: Woods Canyon Pueblo is located in the high desert country of the Four
Corners region of the American Southwest. The site is about 20 miles
northwest of Cortez, Colorado, near Mesa Verde National Park. It sits
on the cliff edge and steep slope of a large canyon called Woods Canyon.
When: Pueblo people lived at Woods Canyon Pueblo for at least 100 years.
They built the first structures about 850 years ago (A.D. 1150)
near the bottom of the canyon. Approximately 750 years ago (A.D.
1250), the villagers began adding new buildings up the steep side
of the canyon and on top of the canyon's cliff edge.
Now that you
have learned about the ancient Pueblo people, you are ready to investigate
theories about why they chose to live on the edge of Woods Canyon
so many years ago.