Letter A

is for Aztec, Ancestral Pueblo and Anasazi.

The name Aztec Ruins is a misnomer. First, the Aztecs never lived here - the Aztec Empire existed in Central Mexico between 1325 - 1521 CE, several centuries after the structures here were built. Second, the descendants of the people who built the great houses don't consider them to be ruins; rather they are places inhabited by their ancestors.

Aztec West was built by the Ancestral Pueblo people in the early 1100s CE, and was occupied for about 200 years. They also built the great houses in Chaco Canyon which were constructed between ca. 850 - 1150 CE.

In the past, archaeologists have referred to Ancestral Pueblo people as Anasazi, a Navajo word translated as "ancient enemies" or "ancient ones." Today, we use the term Ancestral Pueblo to reflect their descendants, the Pueblo people who continue to live in the Southwest.

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  • West Aztec Ruins
    Aerial View of Aztec West Great House

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