Southwest American Indian Ruins
Picture Tour

Antelope House Ruin

Distant vew of some Anasazi dwellings built under a cliff. Photo by Howard J. Partridge.

View of Antelope House Ruin from Overlook
Canyon de Chelly National Monument near Chinle, Arizona

By the time the Kayenta Anasazi Indians began a major expansion of this pueblo around 1050 A.D.  they had already occupied the site hundreds of years.  It is set in a deep, protective alcove, although its position near the canyon floor has exposed it to periodic flooding over the years.  The Anasazi had abandoned the structure by 1270 A.D.  Some historians theorize that a major flood prompted their departure.  Parts of the pueblo have certainly been washed away.  Others suggest warfare or disease caused the exodus.  No one really knows for sure.

The complex is composed of two main building blocks bordering a central plaza.  Archaeologists estimate that the pueblo once boasted 91 rooms and reached four stories in parts.  It also contained two or three large kivas and several smaller ones.  The Anasazi inhabitants originally plastered the walls on each side, covering the coarse masonry construction.  Some of the remaining walls display decorative paint designs.  Paintings of antelope on a nearby cliff wall provided the ruin with its name.  Now some believe that they are the work of Dibe Yazhi, a Navajo artist who lived nearby in the 1830's.  The pueblo is one of several ruins standing guard along the park's northern canyon branch, the rather sinister sounding Canyon del Muerto (Canyon of the Dead).  Photograph taken in 1991 by Howard J. Partridge.

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