You can almost hear the childrens' pattering feet scurry through the sandy rooms chasing after one another. A tapping of stoneware and pottery echoes from one room where a meal is being prepared over a fire. The smoke swirls upward leaving soot on the high cave ceiling.
Tonto Basin has a long history of human activity dating back nearly two thousand years. The first people to settle in the basin arrived in the years between A.D. 100 and 600, making use of the fertile land for farming. Over the next several centuries, the community ebbed and flowed with the climate’s droughts and changing ecosystem. By A.D. 1250, thousands of people lived in the basin and the cliff dwellings were built to support the population increase.
The early 1300s brought a favorable farming climate to the people living here, but only for a few decades. Around 1330 a terrible drought occurred, decimating the farming way of life. People turned to hunting and gathering, but over the next century they depleted the available resources of plants and animals. Ultimately, by 1450, the population had declined drastically and those remaining migrated away leaving these stone structures to turn back into the earth.
- Cliff House
- Brian Truono Photography
- Image Size
- 3000x2000 / 7.2MB
HDR High Dynamic Range Lower Cliff House NPS National Monument National Park National Park Service Native American Pueblo Salado Tonto Tonto National Monument ancestral puebloans architectural architecture arid cliff dwelling cliff house climate desert dry exposure blending historic history masonry rock ruins stone structure
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