The Cliff Palace at Mesa Verde. It contains about 150 rooms.
The Mesa Verde archaeological region, located in the American Southwest, was the home of a pueblo people who, during the 13th century A.D., constructed entire villages in the sides of cliffs.
Mesa Verde is Spanish for “green table” and the people who lived there are often called the “Anasazi,” a Navajo word that has been translated as “the ancient ones” or “enemy ancestors.” While they did not develop a writing system, they left behind rich archaeological remains that, along with oral stories passed down through the ages, have allowed researchers to reconstruct their past.
The region they lived in is defined by researchers at the Crow Canyon Archaeological Center. It encompassed almost 10,000 square miles (26,000 square km) of territory going across the states of Utah, Colorado and New Mexico, with part of the region in Colorado forming Mesa Verde National Park.
It was a tough place to make a living. “Cold, snowy winters give way to hot, dry summers, and periods of relatively abundant moisture are punctuated by sporadic — but sometimes prolonged — periods of drought,” writes a team of Crow Canyon researchers in a 2011 online article. “Living off the land has always been, and continues to be, a challenge, but one that people through the ages have met with extraordinary ingenuity and resilience.”