Most people are more familiar with the word “Anasazi” than they are with the term Ancestral Puebloan. The word Anasazi is actually from the Navajo language which means “ancient enemy”.
They once inhabited areas of Utah, Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, and Nevada. They are popularly known for their canyon dwellings in which they carved cities out of the rock and volcanic cliff sides. Chaco Canyon is a famous site for experiencing the magnitude and skill level of these engineering marvels. It is agreed upon that they favored these overhung sites for not only dwelling but also for defensive structures against enemies. With these dwellings only being accessible by rope or by climbing the cliffside, the advantage and safety was given by this higher ground.
Living in the desert, the Ancestral Puebloans mainly relied on snowmelt for their fresh water. This was important not only for just daily drinking but also during spring time when they needed to germinate their seeds. They were also adept at creating irrigation channels from small rivers and streams.
Being great artists, they were skilled pottery makers in which they made daily use vessels as well as elaborate ceremonial ware. Puebloans in the north were mainly known for their black, white, or grey painted backgrounds. Some of their awe inspiring works of art can be seen in the Barrier Canyon Style rock art which appears almost exclusively in Utah. These structures depict petroglyphs and pictographs in larger than life proportions, that raises questions on what or who they were trying to depict or describe.
Culturally, they were also very advanced. An archaeological site seeks to prove that matrilineal descent was a common practice among Ancestral Puebloans based on elaborate burials of females with exotic and luxury goods not typical of the commoner. Scientifically, evidence of archaeoastronomy also is present with evidence showing that they could predict solar and lunar cycles. This shows that learning and teaching through multiple generations had to of occurred.
The Ancestral Puebloans were innovative, smart, and strong people. The sites, relics, and artwork they left behind is truly remarkable, and it’s worth visiting Utah to appreciate these wonders. A great place to start is the Anasazi State Park, and if you are looking for a great place to stay with luxury and the modern comforts of home, don’t forget to check out Escalante Escapes Luxury Tiny Homes.