Southwest American Indian Ruins
Picture Tour

Mummy Cave Ruins

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

View of Mummy Cave Ruins from Overlook
Canyon de Chelly National Monument near Chinle, Arizona

A little below the center of this photograph are two caves with a ledge between that contain the remains of a large Kayenta Anasazi Indian cliff dwelling.  Located deep within the Canyon del Muerto, it is among the oldest known archaeological sites in the park.  Some of the ruins in the caves date from 300-400 A.D.  Most date from a building boom between the 12th and 13th centuries.   The well-preserved buildings on the ledge between the two caves are among the last structures that the Anasazi built in the complex.  Their construction suggests the influence of the Mesa Verde Anasazi.  Some archeologists believe a few Mesa Verdeans may have moved into the area during the 13th century.  This would be the last pueblo that the Anasazi would occupy before abandoning the Canyon de Chelly region around 1300 A.D.

In its heyday, this pueblo included eighty to 90 rooms and at least three kivas (circular ceremonial rooms).  It also includes a roofless, twenty by thirty foot rectangular room that bears a marked resemblance to the great kiva at the Fire Temple ruin at Mesa Verde.  The ruins derived their name from two mummified bodies, still wrapped in fiber made from the yucca plant, that an archeological expedition found there in 1882.  Photo taken in 1991 by Howard J. Partridge.

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