The Aztec Ruins National Monument preserves Ancestral Puebloan structures and is close to both the town of Aztec and the Animas River. It is about 12 miles northeast of Farmington, NM. The ruins date from the 11th to the 13th centuries.
It is thought that the tribe that built this community built or was involved in the development of the ruins in Chaco Canyon, as the construction is similar.
It is also thought that Chaco was abandoned due to lack of water in the area. The nearby Animas would have provided a more adequate supply.
The area eventually became part of a 160-acre homestead owned by H.D. Abrams, who supported the ruins' preservation and contributed to the efforts that made the area a National Park.
The next few photos show the reconstructed Great Kiva, which is a room (usually tunneling underground) that is reserved for religious ceremony or community political meetings.
Often, windows and roof openings in kivas corresponded to the skies, so as to let in light or view stars during specific astronomical or seasonal periods.
Fifteen top rooms encircle the central chamber of this kiva. The room's purpose is unclear. Each had an exterior doorway to the plaza. Four massive pillars of alternating masonry and horizontal poles held up the ceiling beams, which in turn supported an estimated 95-ton roof. Each pillar rested on four shaped-stone disks, weighing about 355 pounds apiece. These discs are of limestone, which came from mountains at least 40 miles away.
Great kivas are believed to be the first public buildings constructed in the region, predating European construction by several thousand years.