Rooting the Kiva: The Placement of Coal in Ancestral Pueblo Construction Rituals

Author(s): Susan Ryan

Year: 2015


Architectural construction is the process by which material and non-material elements and overall spatial setting are made fixed. Consideration of the ways in which physical space-defining elements function can provide insights to the ways in which space was used and understood by the occupants or builders. This study illuminates how ancestral Pueblo kiva construction rituals were integrated within Pueblo worldview concepts in the northern Southwest during the Pueblo II (A.D 1050-1150) and Pueblo III (A.D. 1150-1280) periods. The placement of coal, or lignite, below kiva features and floors followed strict principles of spatial composition referencing axes that ordered space and served as symbolic representations of the layered cosmos. Moreover, the placement of coal during construction rituals ensured the strength of the house, long life, fertility, and good health of its occupants, the fertility of crops, abundant rain, and provided for the general welfare of occupants in the larger village.

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Cite this Record

Rooting the Kiva: The Placement of Coal in Ancestral Pueblo Construction Rituals. Susan Ryan. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 395337)


Spatial Coverage

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