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Cliff-Fewkes Canyon, Colorado, High Rises and Kivas at

Around 1150, the ancient Puebloans (Anasazi) moved down from the mesa tops and started to carve their homes on the cliff sides. Many of these cliff dwellings were constructed between 1200 and 1250. The construction of these magnificent houses and kivas are chronicled on the Bible Timeline Poster with World History around this period. Some of these magnificent cliff dwellings can be found in the Cliff-Fewkes Canyon at present-day Mesa Verde National Park. At its height, it was the home to 33 separate cliff dwellings with more than 500 rooms and around 60 kivas. Many of the rooms were used as dwellings while others were used as storage areas.

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Cliff Villages and High Rise Residential Areas

The largest of the villages that were constructed within the Cliff-Fewkes Canyon at Mesa Verde was the Cliff Palace. It had around 220 rooms and 23 kivas. The village probably housed around 250 to 350 inhabitants, and also featured a round tower and two to four-story buildings—one of which showed remnants of impressive colorful wall paintings.

Another large village called the Sunset House had 30 rooms and four kivas carved out a ledge. This village was accessible via trails near the Cliff Palace and Little Long House. Other cliff dwellings include the Mummy House with 12 rooms and two kivas, Oak Tree House with 55 living rooms and six kivas, and the New Fire House which was built on two ledges. The New Fire House had 20 residential rooms on the top ledge, three kivas, and a number of dwellings on the lower ledge.

“Square Tower House”

Other cliff dwellings that were built on the nearby Navajo Canyon include the Square Tower House, Little Long House, and other smaller structures. The Square Tower House was made up of 70 residential rooms plus seven kivas and was named after the square four-story building on the site. The Little Long House was located northwest of the Square Tower House.


A structure called the Sun Temple was built with two layers of D-shaped walls separated by compartments and contained two kivas inside. It stood side by side with an extension which contained several compartments, a kiva, and a circular area which was constructed as the base of a tower. The roof of the Sun Temple was long gone, and another tower of unknown purposes stood nearby.

A kiva called the Fire Temple, meanwhile, was carved 100 feet below the Fewkes Canyon and has an unconventional rectangular shape. It was used for rituals and other religious ceremonies. Its location was near a source of water that was an indication of its religious importance to the Ancient Puebloans.

Picture By RationalobserverOwn work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link
Peregrine, Peter N., and Melvin Ember, eds. Encyclopedia of Prehistory: Volume 6: North America. Boston, MA: Springer US, 2001.
Rohn, Arthur H., and William M. Ferguson. Puebloan Ruins of the Southwest. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2006.
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