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A Free Reading Passage on Mesa Verde for AP World History

Cate O'Donnell

2 min read

Apr 25

13

0

0

Mesa Verde is an illustrative example of the Developments in the State Building in the Americas topic in Unit 1 of AP World History. You could reference this example on your AP World History test.



Mesa Verde
2357147187/Shutterstock


Mesa Verde, located in the southwestern corner of Colorado, offers a spectacular glimpse into the lives of the Ancestral Puebloans who inhabited this region from AD 600 to AD 1300. Known for its well-preserved cliff dwellings, including the notable Cliff Palace, Balcony House, and Long House, Mesa Verde provides insight into the innovative architecture and society of the ancient Puebloans.


The early inhabitants of Mesa Verde were initially hunter-gatherers who, over centuries, honed their agricultural skills, cultivating maize, beans, and squash on the mesa tops. As their agricultural practices advanced, their society grew more complex, leading to a population increase and the construction of more permanent structures. By the late 6th century, they began constructing pithouses, which evolved into the sophisticated cliff dwellings that define the site today.


The cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde, built from sandstone blocks and adobe mortar, demonstrate the architectural ingenuity of the Ancestral Puebloans. These structures, nestled within large alcoves in the cliff faces, provided natural protection from the elements and potential adversaries. The largest, Cliff Palace, features over 150 rooms and more than 20 kivas—circular, subterranean rooms used for religious rituals and community gatherings.


Daily life in Mesa Verde was centered around agriculture, hunting, and community activities. The Ancestral Puebloans supplemented their diets with wild plants and animals, showcasing their deep environmental knowledge. Artifacts such as pottery, tools, and jewelry not only highlight a rich cultural life but also provide evidence of extensive trade networks. Materials such as turquoise, found in jewelry at Mesa Verde, were not local to the region, indicating trade relationships with distant communities. This exchange facilitated not just the movement of goods but also ideas and cultural practices across regions.


Religious beliefs played a central role in Ancestral Puebloan society, with kivas indicating significant religious and communal activities. The alignment of buildings and the presence of special ceremonial structures suggest that astronomical events like solstices and equinoxes were integral to their spiritual practices. Social organization was likely based on kinship and lineage, with leadership roles intertwined with religious authority.


By the end of the 13th century, the residents of Mesa Verde began to abandon their cliff dwellings, likely due to a combination of severe droughts, resource depletion, and social upheaval. They migrated southward into present-day New Mexico and Arizona, joining other pueblo communities.



Printable Reading Passage on Mesa Verde

Would you prefer to share a printable passage with your students? Click the image below to grab it!



Mesa Verde FREE Reading Passage


Do you want to watch a video about Mesa Verde?






State Building in the Americas


Unit 1:The Global Tapestry


AP World History



Mesa Verde

#APWorldHistory

Cate O'Donnell

2 min read

Apr 25

13

0

0

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