Ledge Ruin, Canyon de Chelly

Ledge Ruin   Copyright © 2006 John D. Clark

Print #06-90

The earliest residents of Canyon de Chelly, called "Basketmakers" by archeologists, lived in pithouses between 300-420 A.D. Around 700 A.D., the Anasazi began to construct masonry homes. It seems the population of the canyon remained modest for several centuries, increasing sharply after 1050 A.D. This influx of people expanded the population, and the White House and Ledge ruins were built. Indians that had settlements on the plateau outside the canyon moved to live in the cliff dwellings which offered excellent shelter and an effective defense against external attack. Sometime in the 1200's, people began to leave the canyon and by 1284 the last village was vacant. Why did the Anasazi leave? Certainly drought was a key factor, but warfare, pestilence, social breakdown, and over use of the canyon's resources all likely played a part. It would be 400 years before the Navajo would settle in the canyon.


© 2006 John D. Clark
Updated 12/28/2006