Agency of Access: Public Architecture in Mesa Verde National Park

Author(s): Kelsey Reese; Timothy Kohler

Year: 2015


There are many architectural features in the Mesa Verde region that have been defined as "community centers," or rather, specific areas of cultural and social significance. Community centers may contain several public features, including a: Great Kiva, Reservoir, Great House, Plaza, Tower, and others. Although these features are assumed to have served a large surrounding population, the placement of these structures on the landscape can help us understand the ease with which the surrounding population may have accessed these public features—either visually or physically. The production of public architecture suggests forethought into the level of visibility and accessibility to each public feature—and this paper hopes to extrapolate and quantify that thought process by examining the placement of both habitation sites and public features. This paper combines least-cost and viewshed analyses to produce an accessibility metric that represents the ease of travel and participation from habitation sites to contemporaneous public architecture. By running these analyses across the Mesa Verde landscape and through time, changes in accessibility can be observed to suggest how communities may have responded to social, cultural, and environmental changes from A.D. 600-1280.

SAA 2015 abstracts made available in tDAR courtesy of the Society for American Archaeology and Center for Digital Antiquity Collaborative Program to improve digital data in archaeology. If you are the author of this presentation you may upload your paper, poster, presentation, or associated data (up to 3 files/30MB) for free. Please visit for instructions and more information.

Cite this Record

Agency of Access: Public Architecture in Mesa Verde National Park. Kelsey Reese, Timothy Kohler. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 395049)

Spatial Coverage

min long: -115.532; min lat: 30.676 ; max long: -102.349; max lat: 42.033 ;