Anasazi A Diné (Navajo) word that means "ancient ones." It is sometimes used as another name for the ancient Pueblo people.
Ancient Pueblo people The prehistoric farming peoples of the Four Corners region who lived in permanent dwellings called pueblos. This group is also known as the Anasazi, a Diné (Navajo) term meaning "the ancient ones." We do not know what these people called themselves. The ancient Pueblo people are believed to be among the ancestors of the present-day Pueblo Indians of New Mexico and Arizona (the people of Hopi, Zuni, and the pueblos of the Rio Grande River valley).
Artifact Anything made and/or used by humans, including tools, containers, toolmaking debris, and food remains. Technically, buildings are also artifacts, but archaeologists usually apply the term "artifact" only to portable items.
Checkdam A low stone wall built across a small drainage. Checkdams might have been built to prevent soil erosion or to slow down or channel water.
Flakes Thin pieces of stone that are removed from larger pieces of stone during the process of making a stone tool (this process is also known as "flintknapping"). In ancient times, most flakes were thrown away as garbage, but others were used as tools themselves. With their sharp edges, some flakes can be used for cutting, scraping, or gouging. Flakes are among the most common artifacts found at archaeological sites.
Hopi A group of Native American people who live in pueblos in northeastern Arizona today. The oral traditions of the Hopi people link them to the Pueblo people who lived in the Four Corners region during ancient times.
Indigenous people People who are native to a region. American Indians are the indigenous people of the North American continent. They are also sometimes referred to as "Native Americans."
Kiva A Hopi word for a special type of structure used primarily for social and religious ceremonies in present-day pueblos. In the Four Corners region, archaeologists apply this term to ancient structures that are usually round and were built underground. Prehistoric kivas were probably used for ceremonies, as well as for a variety of other activities such as cooking, eating, and sleeping.
Mano and Metate Grinding stones used together to process plants and other materials. A metate is a large stone slab on which the items to be ground are placed. A mano is a smaller stone that is held in the hands and moved back and forth over the surface of the metate. In ancient times, Pueblo people used manos and metates to grind dried corn into meal and to crush minerals into powder that could then be used to make paint.
Mesa Mesa is the Spanish word for "table." It refers to a high, isolated, flat-topped landform with steep sides. The area in which the ancient Pueblo people lived had many mesas separated by deep canyons.
Midden A concentration of discarded artifacts and debris. In ancient Pueblo sites, middens contain pieces of broken pottery (sherds), stone flakes, broken and worn-out tools, ash, charcoal, and other materials. Middens are often located in specific places within sites, and they are considered sacred to many Native American people living today.
Native American The indigenous people of the North American continent. Native Americans are also sometimes referred to as "American Indians."
Pueblo A Spanish term meaning "town." Currently, this word is applied both to a style of building (stone-and-adobe pueblo) and to particular Indian groups (the modern Pueblo Indians and the ancient Pueblo people).
Reservation A tract of land set aside by the United States government for Native Americans to live on and control. Many reservations are also sovereign nations within the United States.
Reservoir A basin that is deliberately constructed for collecting and storing large amounts of water. In ancient times, Pueblo people built reservoirs in places where water from melting snow and rainstorms would drain naturally.
Rio Grande River One of the major rivers in the Southwest, the Rio Grande flows from southern Colorado through New Mexico to the Gulf of Mexico. Today, 18 pueblo communities are located in the Rio Grande River valley.
Roomblock Two or more aboveground rooms built side by side and touching. In ancient Pueblo villages, the rooms were usually rectangular, and they were probably used for storage and day-to-day living. Roomblocks can be very small, consisting of only two or three single-story rooms, or very large, consisting of hundreds of rooms, some of them two or more stories.
Sherds Pieces of broken pottery. Because the ancient Pueblo people used lots of pottery vessels and because pottery breaks very easily, sherds are among the most common artifacts found at archaeological sites. Sherds are an important source of scientific information. The different pottery styles help archaeologists determine when people lived at a site and whether they traded pottery with faraway groups.
Shinny A Native American game played with curved sticks and a small ball; similar to modern field hockey.
Site An archaeological site is a place where people left some physical record behind. Sites can be very small, consisting of only a few stone flakes, or very large, consisting of the remains of many buildings.
Strata Layers of stone, earth, and other materials. Different strata are the result of different kinds of deposition - for example, the deposition of garbage by people or the deposition of dirt by forces of nature. A single layer is called a "stratum."
Towers Tall buildings that were usually circular or semicircular and that might have had more than one story. Towers might have served different purposes, so it is difficult for archaeologists to know for sure how any particular tower was actually used.