National Geographic : 1922 Mar
THE PUEBLO BONITO EXPEDITION OF THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC SOCIETY By NEIL M. JUDD LEADER OF THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPIIIC SOCIETY'S EXPEDITIONS OF 1921 AND 1922 P UEBLO BONITO is a pre-Colum bian village, now in ruins, situated in northwestern New Mexico. Its exact age is unknown, but there is an increasing hope that this will be closely approximated before our studies have been completed. We might, I believe, assume with some degree of certainty that the village was occupied I,ooo years ago. I do not mean to say that Pueblo Bonito was erected, or that it was aban doned, in the year 922 A. D. My thought is that if it had been possible for us to look down from the cliffs, say 8oo or 1,200 years ago, it is likely we should have seen happy children at play on the housetops and their elders busy with varied activities in and about the village. Pueblo Bonito is a colossal apartment house, not the first of its kind, but one of the largest and best known at that early period. Its equipment, its furniture, is a bit out of date, to be sure, but many a city dweller of today would welcome the freedom of its spacious rooms (see dia gram, page 322). This aboriginal village or pre-Colum bian apartment hotel was a whole com munity in itself, since it covered a little more than three acres and sheltered between 1,200 and 1,500 individuals. Roughly speaking, its foundations were approximately equal to those of the United States Capitol. There were more than 300 rooms on its ground floor; its outer walls were four, perhaps five, stories high. Portions of fourth-story walls still stand. Its houses were terraced upward from two inner plazas or courts, like the magnified seats of an amphitheater. The modern pueblo of Acoma, south west of Albuquerque, New Mexico, pos sesses several features closely paralleling those of Pueblo Bonito. Its houses are in long rows, with a high wall on one side, unbroken except for small ventila tors, and, opposite, stepped houses over looking the plazas. Acoma is the oldest continuously inhabited settlement in the United States; its population has been estimated at between i,ooo and 2,000 when the Spaniards first attacked it, in 1540 (see illustration, page 324). Our initial explorations, conducted dur ing the summer of 1921, afford a rea sonably accurate view of Pueblo Bonito. The building is semicircular. It is 310 feet north and south; its south face is 518 feet long. If stood on end, this wall would reach to the windows of the Wash ington Monument. The twenty or more circular kivas (a kiva was both a council chamber and a religious sanctuary) border the two open spaces where public ceremonies were en acted. The clustered dwellings overlook ing these courts furnished seats for gathered spectators, just as the house tops of Oraibi are now utilized during the Snake Dance and other native dramas. The shaded sections of the diagram on page 322 mark most of the rooms exca vated last summer, but tests made else where disclosed buried structures not shown on this plan. THE BONITIANS USED THREE TYPES OP MASONRY One of the most important results of our first season's work was identification of three distinct types of masonry em ployed in construction of the pueblo. In the north and northwest sections of the ruin, dwellings with very crude stone work are found. These houses formed the nucleus of Pueblo Bonito; their build ers possessed a culture cruder and less artistic than that of the peoples who came later to join with them and who were largely responsible, we may safely as sume, in the development of the great community whose shattered walls first attracted our attention and now command our admiration. The outline of this more primitive settlement has not been wholly traced, owing to the fact that it was partially destroyed and built over as newer build ings were erected.