Wupatki: An Archeological Assessment

Author(s): Dana Hartman; Arthur H. Wolf

Year: 1977


The Wupatki region comprises a unique and fascinating national monument. During almost its entire history, this area was avoided by inhabitants of the surrounding regions; Wapatki is arid, wind-swept and inhospitable. For a time lasting less than 150 years, however, Wupatki flourished as a cultural contact zone. This population influx was due to the effects of the A.D. 1064-1065 Sunset Crater eruption, which spread a moisture-retaining layer of volcanic ash and cinder over the landscape and permitted agriculture in the previously unfertile area. The region served as a crossroads for both people and ideas, and the now-barren landscape supported a sedentary population in the thousands. Members of at least three major cultural groups - Anasazi, Cohonina and Sinagua - inhabited the Monument area, and the people incorporated ideas developed by groups living hundreds of miles away. Around A.D. 1225 the inhabitants of Wupatki abandoned the area. This emigration was probably in large part due to decreasing agricultural productivity. Following the prehistoric abandonment of the region, there was no major permanent inhabitation until Navajo sheepherders entered the area in the late 1880's.

The ruins at Wupatki were first described by the Sitgreaves expedition in 1851. In the interim period between the Sitgreaves reconnaissance and the formation of the Monument in 1924, the pueblos at Wupatki were intermittently visited by various scientists and several pothunters. These activities focused attention on the area and led to the creation of the Monument. Full scale, documented excavation at the Monument began in 1933, when the Museum of Northern Arizona undertook the excavation of Wupatki Pueblo. Since that time various smaller excavations have been conducted in the area, and stabilization has been a continuous project at the Monument.

There are two major purposes of this report: 1) to provide a synthesis of the archeology, history and past research at Wupatki National Monument, and 2) to indicate research possibilities at the Monument. The research suggestions included in the report are certainly not comprehensive. There are no doubt a number of potential studies which did not occur to the authors during the preparation of the report, particularly in the fields of geology and biology. Nevertheless, it is apparent that the significance of Wupatki National Monument lies as much in the research potential of the area as in the work which has already been completed.

Cite this Record

Wupatki: An Archeological Assessment. Dana Hartman, Arthur H. Wolf. 1977 ( tDAR id: 428073) ; doi:10.6067/XCV8428073

This Resource is Part of the Following Collections

Spatial Coverage

min long: -111.401; min lat: 35.48 ; max long: -111.333; max lat: 35.519 ;

Individual & Institutional Roles

Contact(s): Salt River Project Cultural Resource Manager

Contributor(s): Ronald J. Ice; Richard Harris; Linda Labate; Katherine Bartlett; Mark Sant

Prepared By(s): Museum of Northern Arizona

Record Identifiers

Anthropology Research Report(s): 6

MNA Research Paper(s): 6

SRP Library Barcode No.(s): 00030593

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