Wupatki National Monument

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Wupatki National Monument
IUCN category V (protected landscape/seascape)
Wukoki Ruin.tif
Wukoki ruins in 2008
Map showing the location of Wupatki National Monument
Map showing the location of Wupatki National Monument
Location Coconino County, Arizona, USA
Nearest city Flagstaff, Arizona
Coordinates 35°33′56″N 111°23′13″W / 35.56556°N 111.38694°W / 35.56556; -111.38694Coordinates: 35°33′56″N 111°23′13″W / 35.56556°N 111.38694°W / 35.56556; -111.38694
Area 35,422 acres (14,335 ha)[1]
Created December 9, 1924 (1924-December-09)
Visitors 216,165 (in 2011)[2]
Governing body National Park Service

The Wupatki National Monument is a National Monument located in north-central Arizona, near Flagstaff. Rich in Native American ruins, the monument is administered by the National Park Service in close conjunction with the nearby Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument.

Wupatki was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on October 15, 1966. The listing included three contributing buildings and 29 contributing structures on 35,253.2 acres (14,266.5 ha).[3][4]

The many settlement sites scattered throughout the monument were built by the Ancient Pueblo People, more specifically the Sinagua, Cohonina, and Kayenta Anasazi. Wupatki was first inhabited around 500 AD. Wupatki, which means "Tall House" in the Hopi language, is a multistory Sinagua pueblo dwelling having more than 100 rooms. Secondary structures, including two large, apparently uncovered kivalike structures, stand nearby.[5] A major population influx began soon after the eruption of Sunset Crater in the 11th century (between 1040 and 1100), which blanketed the area with volcanic ash; this improved agricultural productivity and the soil's ability to retain water. By 1182, about 85 to 100 people lived at Wupatki Pueblo but by 1225, the site was permanently abandoned. It was a 100-room pueblo with a community room and ball court; making it the largest building for nearly fifty miles. There have also been nearby secondary structures uncovered, including two kivalike structures. Based on a careful survey of archaeological sites conducted in the 1980s, an estimated 2000 immigrants moved into the area during the century following the eruption. Agriculture was based mainly on corn and squash raised from the arid land without irrigation. In the Wupatki site, the residents harvested rain water due to the rarity of springs. Around 800 years ago, the Wupatki site was the largest pueblo around.[citation needed]

Wukoki ruins complex

The dwelling's walls were constructed from thin, flat blocks of the local Moenkopi sandstone giving the pueblos their distinct red color. Held together with mortar, many of the walls still stand. Each settlement was constructed as a single building, sometimes with scores of rooms. The largest settlement on monument territory is the Wupatki Ruin, built around a natural rock outcropping. With over 100 rooms, this ruin is believed to be the area's tallest and largest structure for its time period. The monument also contain ruins identified as a ball court, similar to the courts found in Meso-America and in the Hohokam ruins of southern Arizona; this is the northernmost example of this kind of structure. This site also contains a geological blowhole. Other major sites are Wukoki and The Citadel.

Today Wupatki appears empty and abandoned. Though it is no longer physically occupied, Hopi believe the people who lived and died here remain as spiritual guardians. Stories of Wupatki are passed on among Hopi, Zuni, Navajo, and perhaps other tribes. Members of the Hopi Bear, Sand, Lizard, Rattlesnake, Water, Snow, and Katsina Clans return periodically to enrich their personal understanding of their clan history. Wupatki is remembered and cared for, not abandoned.[6]

Amidst what would seem a generally inhospitable area due to the lack of food and water sources, several artifacts have been located at the site from distant locations, implying that Wupatki was involved in trade. Items from as far as the Pacific and the Gulf Coast have been located at the site. Many different varieties of pottery have been found at the site during numerous excavations stretching back to its exploration in the mid-1800s.[7]


  1. ^ "Listing of acreage as of December 31, 2011". Land Resource Division, National Park Service. Retrieved 2012-05-14. 
  2. ^ "NPS Annual Recreation Visits Report". National Park Service. Retrieved 2012-05-14. 
  3. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2009-03-13. 
  4. ^ Catherine M. Cameron and Cherie L. Schieck (July 28, 1992). "National Register of Historic Places Registration: Wupatki National Monument". 
  5. ^ Snow, Dean. Archaeology of Native North America. Prentice Hall. p. 134. ISBN 9780136156864. 
  6. ^ "National Park Service". Wupatki National Monument. National Park Service. 2010-11-06. 
  7. ^ "Welcome to Anthropology Labs". http://jan.ucc.nau.edu. Retrieved April 8, 2012. 

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