We stopped by the Aztec Ruins National Monument while in Farmington, NM. The monument is a complete misnomer, as the Aztec civilization had nothing to do with these ruins, having never been in the area.

I can’t see or say the word “ruin” without immediately thinking of this Family Guy episode:

This evening is ruined!

We weren’t sure what to expect, but were surprised by the large structure, and the relative intact-ness of the ruins. 

While it looks like a large dormitory (plenty of small, tight rooms), the structure is a mix of living and ceremonial rooms. 

The monument is a self-guided, 700 yard trail around and through the ruins, taking you down into the lower rooms. Park rangers provide an incredibly thorough booklet of information to accompany your walk, with each notable piece numbered.  This is the largest Ancestral Pueblo community in the area, and it was built and used over a 200 year period. Upon excavation in the early 1900s, archaeologists found a plethora of  well-preserved artifacts – clothing, tools, jewelry, and everyday items.

The structure originally had over 400 interconnected rooms, built around a plaza.


Sometimes you just feel the need to limbo…   

You can tell it’s still early on in our trip – we’re wearing winter clothes! With the weather hitting the 90s today in Kentucky, just looking at these pictures makes me hot!   

The use of the T doorway shape denotes a different building stage, as well as a different use for the room.  

I loved seeing the different rock building styles used! Here, it’s pretty clear where parts of the wall were patched up or reconstructed:

Here’s a photo of the Great Kiva when it was excavated in 1921 by Earl Morris (he was largely responsible for most of the excavation and preservation of the ruins.).

 Image #119747 from the American Museum of Natural History

 The Great Kiva was reconstructed in an interpretation of how this ceremonial space would traditionally look.

 From the outside

 Thatched roof on the inside

A small museum accompanies the monument. I found this trash exhibit to be very interesting! Through the layers of dirt, archaeologists were able to determine periods of high residency, the development of the civilization, and even periods of abandonment (see the section in the middle that is about 3 inches of just dirt, and no trash? That would be the abandoned period.).

We had a great time visiting this National Monument!

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