Ancient Puebloan Ruins -- Navajo National Monument, Shonto AZ
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member Benchmark Blasterz
N 36° 40.680 W 110° 32.462
12S E 541008 N 4059250
Quick Description: Three sets of Ancient Puebloan ruins at Navajo National Monument. The Betatakin ruins can be seen from a short trail.
Location: Arizona, United States
Date Posted: 8/23/2014 3:56:42 PM
Waymark Code: WMMAQJ
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member fisnjack
Views: 0

Long Description:
Tha amazing Ancient Puebloan culture left behind what we now know as the Betankin Ruins, the Keet Seel, and Inscription House. These cliff dwellings were vacated approximately 700 years ago.

From Wikipedia: (visit link)

"Navajo National Monument is a National Monument located within the northwest portion of the Navajo Nation territory in northern Arizona, which was established to preserve three well preserved cliff dwellings of the Ancestral Puebloan People: Keet Seel (Kits'iil), Betatakin (Bitát'ahkin) and Inscription House (Ts'ah Bii' Kin). The monument is high on the Shonto plateau, overlooking the Tsegi Canyon system, west of Kayenta, Arizona. It features a visitor center with a museum, two short self-guided mesa top trails, two small campgrounds, and a picnic area. Rangers guide visitors on free tours of the Keet Seel and Betatakin cliff dwellings. The Inscription House site, further west, is currently closed to public access.

The Sandal Trail is an accessible self-guided walk that provides views of the spectacular canyonlands and rugged topography near the visitor center. Interpretive signs provide information on local flora and other topics. The 1.6 km round-trip trail ends at an overlook of the Betatakin ruins across the 560 feet (170 m) deep Betatakin Canyon. The National Monument was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on October 15, 1966.

Keet Seel

Keet Seel or Kiet Siel (Kits'iil), which stands for "broken house" in Navajo, is a well preserved cliff dwelling of the ancient Anasazi people located in a branch of the Tsegi Canyon in the Kayenta region. The site was first occupied at around AD 1250, during a time in which a large number of people were believed to be aggregating in sites such as this in this part of the American Southwest. There was a construction boom at Keet Seel between AD 1272 and 1275, with construction then slowly tapering off and halting completely at AD 1286. Once construction halted in AD 1286, there was no evidence of structures being built until its subsequent abandonment some 20 years later. At its peak, its believed that up to 150 people inhabited this site at one time. Due to the extremely dry climate and natural overhanging cliff, the conditions at Keet Seel were quite optimal[citation needed] for excellent preservation of the site's dwellings and artifacts. Keet Seel is considered by many archaeological experts to be one of the best preserved larger ruins in the American Southwest.


Betatakin means "House Built on a Ledge" in Navajo. In Hopi, the name of the place is Talastima, or "Place of the Corn Tassel". Betatakin is smaller than nearby Keet Seel, with about 120 rooms at the time of abandonment. However, like Keet Seel, Betatakin was constructed of sandstone, mud mortar, and wood. Today only about 80 rooms remain, due to rock falls inside the alcove. Betatakin only has one kiva, whereas Kiet Siel has several. Betatakin was built in an enormous alcove measuring 452 feet high and 370 feet across between 1267 and 1286. The first excavations occurred in 1917 under Neil Judd, and continued into the 1950s and 1960s under archaeologists like Jeffery Dean. During its two-decade heyday Dean estimated a maximum population of about 125 people.


Although many archaeologists agree that there is a definitive and sharp exodus from this region in the Southwest, there has been considerable debate on the determining factors that forced people to migrate out of this area. Archaeologists have determined that there was a distinct decrease in the amount of annual precipitation between AD 1276 and 1299, a period of time that is now referred to as the "Great Drought". With the limited amount of rainfall in an already arid environment, there is no doubt that there was a considerable amount of increased stress put on the agricultural systems that these people depended on.

There is evidence later in the record to suggest the beginning of an episode of deep arroyo cutting, that would have damaged what was left of the usable agricultural land. Increased deposition of sediment onto agricultural lands caused the lowering of the water table, thus making the land inadequate for farming. Regardless of their reasoning, near the end of the thirteenth century its evident that the Anasazi people migrated towards places with more stable and abundant water sources, suggesting that the agricultural land in this area had become unsuitable to sustain the population levels that once inhabited this spectacular cave site.

Hopi legends tell a different tale. According to oral tradition, the area known as Wunuqa (modern day Tsegi Canyon) was abandoned as part of a spiritual quest. In particular, the Snake Clan inhabited the Navajo National Monument ruins, along with the Horn Clan. The Horn Clan forced the Snake Clan out, due to the children of the Snake Clan biting other children and causing death. This may be an allegory for some historical occurrence, in which one group forced another out for a perceived fault or slight."
Trailhead: N 36° 40.680 W 110° 32.462

Type: Ruins

How did you find this "Ancient Evidence": Hiking

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