Your Guide to Southwestern Native American Pottery
Promoting Potters: Past, Present, & Future
ANASAZI VIRTUAL MUSEUM
Anasazi, Hisatsinom, or Ancestral Puebloan
The "Anasazi" are the prehistoric peoples that occupied the four corners region of the
American Southwest: Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, and Utah.
The name "Anasazi" originated from a Navajo word that translates at "enemy ancestor" or "ancient people who are not us" depending on pronunciation. The name "Anasazi" gained popularity over the past century and is the most common and widely used.. The Hopi have always claimed these people as their ancestors and many take offense at the name "Anasazi". The Hopi would prefer the "Anasazi" to be called "Hisatsinom", which means people of long ago. Another term becoming popular is "Ancestral Puebloan".
Archaeologists are unsure as to the origins of these ancient people, some believe that they are descendants from the Archaic Desert Culture others speculate that they are a branch of the Mogollon who came to the region from the South. Most agree that they did not disappear but are the ancestors of the Hopi and Zuni and possibly some of the other Northern Pueblos.
During the first part of their civilization they did not live in the cliff dwelling that they are most famous for. Instead they started in pithouses. These structures were built three to five feet into the ground and had roofs suppported by poles and beams that were covered by brush and mud. These early Anasazi lived in small communities, mostly near their fields were they grew corn, squash, and beans. They gathered agave, walnuts, pinyon nuts, acorns, prickly pear, yucca, wild potatoes and Indian rice grass. Other plants served as medicines, fuel and building materials. The Anasazi hunted large game including deer, elk, antelope, and mountain sheep and smaller animals such as turkey, rabbits, fish, rodents, and a variety of birds.
Archaeologists have defined periods for the Anasazi Culture:
Basketmaker I - Archaic
Basketmaker II - A.D. 1 to 500
Basketmaker III - A.D. 500 to 700
(Some use the term "Basketmaker" to cover 1000 B.C. to A.D. 750)
Pueblo I - A.D. 700 to 900
Pueblo II - A.D. 900 to 1100
Pueblo III - A.D. 1100 to 1300
Pueblo IV - A.D. 1300 to the arrival of the Spanish in 1598 (1600)
Most archaeologists believe that the ancestors of the Navajo and Ute
peoples entered the Four Corners area during this period.
Pueblo V - 1600 to present
The ruins of the Anasazi (Hitsatsinom) were discovered in the late 1800's and have attracted
attention from around the world.
Ancestral Pueblo Ruins:
Pueblo Bonito (Chaco Canyon)
Cas Rinconada (Chaco Canyon)
Betatakin (Navajo National Monument)
Keet Seel (Navajo National Monument)
White House Ruin (Canyon de Chelly)
Spruce Tree House (Mesa Verde)
Square Tower House (Mesa Verde)
Cliff Palace (Mesa Verde)
Square Tower Ruin (Hovenweep)
Agate House (Petrified Forest National Park)
Ceremonial Cave (Bandelier National Monument)
Tyuonyi Ruin (Bandelier National Monument)
Long House (Bandelier National Monument)
"Aztec Ruins National Monument - New Mexico"
First record of these ruins was made in 1859. Excavations occured between 1916 to 1921 by the American Museum of Natural History.
(Postcard - J.R. Willis, Albuquerque, N.M.)