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By: Ylee , 10:05 AM GMT on May 26, 2013
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One of the best preserved monuments to ancient Native American culture and architecture lies near the Four Corners area of southwestern Colorado. Mostly built into sandstone alcoves and caves along south and southwestern-facing canyon cliffs, the Ancestral Puebloan people, or Anasazi, constructed adobe buildings with rooms and kivas. Some of these buildings, such as the Cliff Palace, had over 150 rooms, and housed over 100 people.
Most houses were much smaller, and only housed 1-5 people. Large or small, the cliff dwellings were set up to maximize water usage efficiency, leaving most of the mesas above for agriculture. The Anasazi made reservoirs for holding extra rain runoff, and made terraces to grow more corn with less erosion of soil.
However, even the careful planning of the Anasazi could not overcome a changing climate, and by 1300 AD, they were forced to leave their cliff homes for points south and east due to a 24 year drought. The Anasazi's decendants are now the Hopi in Arizona, and 19 tribes of Pueblo in New Mexico.
After the Anasazi left, Mesa Verde was mostly left alone until prospectors discovered it in the 1870s. Although treasure hunters looted many artifacts from the cliffs, archaeologists and preservationists lobbied the government to save the area, and their efforts were rewarded in 1906, when Theodore Roosevelt approved the creation of Mesa Verde National Park.
The cam below features Spruce Tree House, which features 130 rooms, and eight kivas. Home to an estimated 60 to 80 people, it measures 216 feet wide, and 89 feet deep!
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