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Title: Wupatki National Monument, Arizona
Author: United States. National Park Service
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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                          _National Monument_

    [Illustration: Wupatki National Monument]

                       WUPATKI NATIONAL MONUMENT

  An unusual stone pueblo built by Indian farmers of the 12th century

The red sandstone prehistoric pueblos of Wupatki, gleaming against a
background of black basaltic cliffs and facing a view of the Painted
Desert of the Little Colorado River, were built by groups of farming
Indians, ancestors of the picturesque Hopis. More than 800 home sites
have been discovered in the monument, varying from the pits of ancient
earth lodges to house structures three stories high. Studies of ancient
wooden beams in the ruins have dated the major occupation as occurring
during the eleventh and twelfth centuries.

These abundant prehistoric ruins constitute the tangible and colorful
remains of an eleventh-century Indian “land rush” that resulted from the
earlier eruption of Sunset Crater, a nearby volcano.

Coming from several directions and bringing different customs and
habits, the various tribes met and mixed, though remaining in large part
distinct groups, forming a local cultural pattern differentiated from
its contemporaries in other sections of the prehistoric American

The many ruins in Wupatki National Monument are in an unusual state of
preservation. The most accessible are the Citadel and Wupatki, located 5
and 14 miles, respectively, from U. S. Highway 89.

The Eruption and the Land Rush

Prior to the eruption of Sunset Crater, the vast area from the San
Francisco Peaks to the Little Colorado River was sparsely inhabited due
to scarcity of rainfall for raising crops. A few families were scattered
along the base of the peaks where abundant snow and frequent summer
rains made farming possible.

Between 1046 and 1071 A. D., or almost 1,000 years ago, there were
rumblings in the valley at the foot of the peaks. Earth lodges abandoned
by the frightened Indians decayed into ruins. Then came the eruption of
what is now Sunset Crater. Huge clouds of volcanic cinder or ash buried
remains of the homes and spread a black mantle over more than 800 square
miles of territory between the mountains and the river.

While this was probably regarded as a great catastrophe at the time,
some of the Indians soon discovered it was possible to raise corn where
plants previously had shriveled and died from lack of water. The fine
layer of cinder over the soil formed a mulch which absorbed moisture
from the scanty rain and snow. Gradually news of this new farming land
filtered out over the Southwest. The land rush was on.

The People

Here truly was a “melting pot.” Indian families came from the north,
south, east, and west. In the cinder-covered area is the only place
where we find the Pueblo dry farmer from eastern and northern Arizona
mingling with the Hohokam irrigation farmer from the south; where there
are strong influences from the Mogollon groups to the south and east
along with those from a more backward and, as yet, little-known people
from the west.

Each tribe came with their precious corn seed and digging sticks to
cultivate the cinder soils. They met and mingled. In the earlier village
ruins it is possible to distinguish these various people by
characteristic styles of their utensils, tools, and weapons, but as time
went on these differences became less and less apparent.

The Villages

Villages were developed throughout the cinder-covered area. One of the
most important and longest inhabited of these was a ruin which is now
called Wupatki—a Hopi Indian word for “Tall House.” Here was a spring,
one of the few in this arid region.

Wupatki is one of the most spectacular pueblos in northern Arizona. Its
sandstone walls rise from a sandstone spur at the base of a black lava
mesa that overlooks the Painted Desert. From an insignificant pueblo of
a few rooms, Wupatki grew until it became the largest in the region.
During the 1100’s it contained more than 100 rooms, was in places at
least three stories high, and had an estimated population of from 150 to
200 persons. To one side of the ruin, protected from the prevailing
winds, was an open-air amphitheater which apparently was used for public
ceremonies. In the valley below is a “ball court,” the only
stone-masonry one that has been discovered in the Southwest. Little is
known of the game itself, but it was very popular in southern Arizona
and was brought up by migrants from that region. Wupatki was partially
excavated and a few of the rooms restored by the Museum of Northern
Arizona in cooperation with the National Park Service in 1933-34.

    [Illustration: The Wupatki ruin]

Around the Citadel was another concentration of prehistoric Indians.
Within a square mile there are more than 100 sites, varying in size from
earth lodges to the larger pueblos. The Citadel itself, as yet
unexcavated, is a fortified apartment house. Probably it was once two
stories high and contained nearly 50 rooms. Its impregnable position on
top of a small lava-capped mesa, overlooking a wide expanse of country,
suggests that it served as a retreat during times of stress. Numerous
loop-holes through the thick walls strengthen this impression. On the
terraced slopes of the mesa are circles of boulders, the remains of more
temporary homes. It is possible that the Citadel was built to guard a
water supply that existed in the nearby limestone sinkhole.

Just below the Citadel is the small pueblo now called Nalakihu, a Hopi
word for “House Standing Alone.” It, like Wupatki, was excavated and
partially restored in 1934.

Other outstanding ruins in the monument are Wukoki ruin, another
fortified apartment house; and Crack-in-the-Rock ruin near the Little
Colorado River. To reach these more inaccessible ruins, it is necessary
to make arrangements with the custodian in Wupatki ruin.


All of the ruins were abandoned in the 1200’s. This is accounted for,
partly at least, by several factors—high winds sweeping the
moisture-conserving cinder fields, climatic changes, and disease among
the Indians. It brought to a close one of the unique chapters of
Southwestern archeology. Probably among the present day Hopis the
descendants of these people are to be found.

Drought and disease, possibly also attacks of nomad enemies, caused the
abandonment by the Pueblos of most of northern Arizona during the
thirteenth century. This region, the Tsegi region (Navajo National
Monument and vicinity), and the region of Canyon de Chelly National
Monument were deserted. The survivors from all these areas must have
congregated at the Hopi mesas, where the springs never fail. Later, in
the fourteenth century, the great pueblos of Chaves Pass and Homolovi
(near Winslow, Ariz.) and of the Verde Valley (notably Tuzigoot and
Montezuma Castle National Monuments) were abandoned, their people going
northeast to swell the Hopi nation. When the Spaniards arrived in 1540
there were no pueblo villages occupied in Arizona save those of the
Hopi, in Tusayan.

    [Illustration: The Citadel]

Tree-Ring Dates

The time of occupation of each ruin in this region is fairly well known,
through the tree-ring method of dating prehistoric sites. The date of
eruption of Sunset Crater is approximately known, from the dating by the
tree-ring method of houses built before and after the cinder fall.

Nearby Points of Interest

By visiting Sunset Crater, Wupatki, and Walnut Canyon National
Monuments, and also the Museum of Northern Arizona in Flagstaff, Ariz.,
visitors can obtain first-hand knowledge of one of the most interesting
localities in the United States. The story of each area is linked with
the others. The Museum of Northern Arizona has been instrumental in
searching out the scientific facts concerning the manifestations of
nature and man in the region and displays interesting exhibits which
help to explain them. The exhibits to be installed by the National Park
Service at Walnut Canyon and Wupatki will be specifically explanatory of
the monuments; the Museum of Northern Arizona presents a picture of the
entire region.

How to Get to Wupatki

Wupatki National Monument is easily approached from U. S. Highway 89 at
a point 22 miles north of its junction with U. S. Highway 66, 6 miles
east of Flagstaff, and 23 miles south of its junction with State Highway
64 close to Cameron. Roads within the monument are not improved. There
is also another entrance road from Sunset Crater National Monument.
However, it is one-way, runs through deep cinder, and is not advisable
for drivers unaccustomed to this type of road. It is generally
impassable in winter.


Wupatki National Monument was established in 1924 by Presidential
proclamation and contains 34,693 acres of Federally owned land. It is a
part of the National Park System, owned by the people of the United
States and administered for them by the National Park Service of the
Department of the Interior. In these areas the scenery and the objects
of historic, prehistoric, and scientific interest are carefully
preserved and displayed for public enjoyment.

Free guide service is available at Wupatki Ruin from 8 a. m. to 5 p. m.
No accommodations for visitors are provided at the monument, but such
facilities may be obtained at either Flagstaff or Cameron, each
approximately 40 miles away. Lunches may be purchased at a few points
along Highway 89.

Please help us take care of the monument by observing the rules which
have been devised for its preservation and protection. Do not collect
souvenirs. Leave all natural phenomena and archeological remains
unharmed for others to enjoy. To preserve the ruins and for your own
safety do not walk on prehistoric walls. Stay on established trails.
Keep on the main traveled roads and drive carefully. Remember all
National Park areas are wildlife sanctuaries. So do not hunt. Keep dogs
on leash.

For information, write the Custodian, Wupatki National Monument,
Flagstaff, Ariz.


                    U. S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR
                        J. A. Krug, _Secretary_
           NATIONAL PARK SERVICE, Newton B. Drury, _Director_
               U.S. GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE 16—52111-1


                          Transcriber’s Notes

—Silently corrected a few palpable typos.

—Retained publication information from the printed edition: this eBook
  is public-domain in the country of publication.

—In the text versions only, text in italics is delimited by

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