The name Sinagua was coined by archaeologist Harold Colton, founder of the Museum of Northern Arizona, from the Spanish words sin meaning "without" and agua meaning "water", referring to the name originally given by Spanish explorers to the San Francisco Peaks near Flagstaff, the "Sierra Sin Agua". The name reflects the surprise the Spanish felt that such large mountains did not have perennial rivers flowing from them, as is common in Spain.
The last known evidence of Sinagua occupation for any site comes from Montezuma Castle, around 1425 AD. Like other pre-Columbian cultures in the southwest, the Sinagua apparently abandoned their permanent settlements around this time, though the precise reasons for such a large-scale abandonment are not yet known; resource depletion, drought, and clashes with the newly arrived Yavapai people have been suggested. Several modern Hopi clans trace their ancestry to immigrants from the Sinagua culture, whom they believe left the Verde Valley for religious reasons.
Montezuma Well is listed in the National Register of Historic Places, reference #66000082.
Cliff dwellings of the Sinagua people.
Close up view of the Cliff dwellings of the Sinagua people.
Diorama showing how the pre-Columbian Sinagua people may have lived in Montezuma Castle, a 22-room cliff dwelling located near Camp Verde, Arizona. The display and its contents are the work of an employee of the Bureau of Land Management.
Pit House ruins of Sinagua people, which dates back to 1050 AD. The two largest holes in the dirt floor held the timber which supported the roof. The holes around the edge reveal the outline of the structure. It is listed in the National Register of Historic Places, reference #66000082.