Why Did The Anasazi Leave
The Anasazi built unique adobe dwellings or pueblos in an area now known as Chaco Canyon in the American Southwest. Built with a number of massive pueblos, the area became the center of the Anasazi civilization.
The Anasazi’s Way Of Life
The way that the Anasazi lived can be seen at Pueblo Bonito which is one of Chaco Canyon’s biggest pueblos. It stands 4 to 5 stories high with rooms surrounding the central plaza. Throughout the area, several kivas can be spotted. These kivas were used as meeting places with a ceremonial purpose. At the height of the civilization at Pueblo Bonito, the total population was estimated to have reached around 1,200 people.
Abandoning The Chaco Canyon Pueblos
Between the 12th and 13th centuries, many of the Chaco Canyon pueblos were abandoned. Up until today, researchers are trying to explain the reason why the people left the pueblos which stood as the centers of Anasazi society.
Clues to explain the abandonment can be found at a pueblo known as the Sand Canyon. Evidence shows that when the Sand Canyon was totally abandoned during the 13th century, the kivas were burned. Since the kivas were used as ceremonial places and were regarded as sacred by the Chacoans, it was speculated that the burning must have been planned and deliberate. Many archaeologists believe that the burning of the kivas was ceremonially executed for the purpose of closing them after the people have left. Perhaps the Anasazi had no intention to return which made them decide to execute the burning.
Apart from the burning of the kivas, another clue found at Sand Canyon is based on the fact that the people left a majority of their possessions. The Anasazi must have left them in purpose as a way to make their long and difficult journey ahead more bearable.
Deserting The Decades Old Pueblos
Scientists are baffled on why the Anasazi left the pueblos which took them decades to construct. One possible answer is found by looking at tree rings in the Sand Canyon. Between 1125 and 1180 A.D., the region experienced very little rain. Then, rainfall briefly returned to a normal degree after 1180 A.D. Another long drought occurred between 1270 and 1274 A.D. which was then followed by another period of regular rainfall. Then, another drought was experienced by the Anasazi in 1275. This time, the drought lasted more info for 14 years.
It should be noted that when the several cycles of drought began, the Anasazi civilization was at its peak. The population in the communities was dense. Even when there was good rainfall, the Anasazi knew how to use their land to its limits.
However, the drought made it impossible for the Anasazi to grow enough food and therefore support the population. As a result, the region experienced a widespread famine. People left the area and went to other pueblos in the south and east. The pueblos at Chaco Canyon became abandoned followed by the smaller communities in the surrounding area.
Years of drought and famine brought the Anasazi civilization to a long period of migration and decline. By the 1300s, this once-flourishing civilization had all but died out in Chaco Canyon.