Pueblo Pintado Great House

In 1849, the Washington Expedition, a military reconnaissance under the direction of Lt. James Simpson, surveyed Navajo lands. As the party traveled west from Santa Fe, Pueblo Pintado (Spanish for "painted village") was the first Chacoan site they encountered. This Chacoan site was also known as Pueblo de los Ratones, or "village of the mice," Pueblo Colorado or "red village," and Pueblo Grande, or "large village." Its Navajo name is Kin teel, or "wide house." Pueblo Pintado is located 16 miles southeast of Pueblo Bonito and is the easternmost of the Chacoan great houses in the immediate Chaco Canyon area.

The great house is a massive L-shaped building, open to the southeast. The building is terraced, from 3 stories on the outside corner to the single-story enclosed kivas on the interior corner. About 20 single-story rooms enclose the plaza and a large enclosed kiva. The entire great house contained 90 ground-floor rooms, 40 second-story rooms, and 5 third-story rooms. A hundred feet southeast of the building is a subterranean great kiva 58 feet in diameter.

Great kivas are a key element of Chacoan public architecture. They are found in nearly every Chacoan community built between AD 900 and 1200. Great kivas are often located in the plazas of great houses or nearby. Some are located along roads or placed on prominent ridges and hills. The unique design, size, and central position of great kivas suggest a ceremonial purpose or public gathering places for communities and the region. Tree-ring dates indicate that most of the construction occurred at A.D. 1060-1061, during Chaco's peak construction period, with a later reoccupation in the 1200s.

The masonry of Pueblo Pintado is typical Chacoan core and veneer masonry, a distinguishing feature of Chacoan great house construction. The core consists of roughly shaped pieces of sandstone laid in a mud mortar. The core is then faced on both sides with carefully selected and shaped stones to create the veneer.

Pueblo Pintado Pueblo Pintado Pueblo Pintado Pueblo Pintado
Pueblo Pintado Pueblo Pintado Pueblo Pintado Pueblo Pintado
Pueblo Pintado Pueblo Pintado Pueblo Pintado Pueblo Pintado

Photos by EMKotyk