Uncovering the Mysteries of Colorados Pueblo Communities

Archaeology & Culture

Uncovering the Mysteries of Colorado's Pueblo Communities

Dig for clues into resource use, sustainability, and long-term impacts on ancient communities.

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The facts

Why the research is important

Why the research is important

Great houses were the densest concentration of the largest buildings found anywhere in the ancestral Pueblo world. Architectural clues could reveal how far north the Chaco regional system expanded and what the natural and cultural implications were of this development.

With your help, researchers hope to gain a greater understanding of resource sustainability and the impacts of cultural and environmental downturns on ancestral Pueblo communities.

One of the most interesting, but unresolved, questions about Pueblo history is the nature and extent of Chaco influence north of the San Juan River. How did Chaco influence extend into Southwest Colorado? What effect did a 50-year drought have on environmental resources and sustainability in this region and how did the residents respond to a changing climate? Help researchers find answers to these questions that are fundamental to understanding and reconstructing the prehispanic populations in Southwest Colorado.

There is much to be learned from the great houses in this region. Data collected during this project will allow researchers to gain a greater understanding of resource sustainability, the natural and cultural impacts of environmental downturns, ancient communities and regional systems, migration, and the ever-changing relationship between humans and their environment.

Volunteering on an Earthwatch archaeology project

Excavate a site of the ancient Pueblo II community.

By understanding how the people of the ancestral Pueblo communities mediated the “A.D. 1130-1180 drought” and dealt with other environmental changes, researchers will be able to better plan for natural downturns and resource depletion across the world in the present day and in the future.

About the research area

Cortez, Colorado, United States, North America & Arctic

Daily life in the field


This is a summary:

The Scientists


Director of Archaeology at Crow Canyon Archaeological Center

ABOUT Susan Ryan

Susan Ryan, an Earthwatch archaeologist at Crow Canyon in Colorado, has conducted prehistoric and historic excavations throughout the American Midwest and Southwest.



Accommodations and Food

Accommodations and Food


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