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The Chaco Civilization for Unit 1 of AP U.S. History

Cate O'Donnell

3 min read

Dec 24, 2023

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The Chaco Civilization of the Great Basin of North America stood as a testament to the architectural prowess and the extraordinary feats of engineering of the ancient people of North America. From the mysterious galleries, kivas, and stairways they constructed to the advanced irrigation systems and expertise in astronomy, the Chaco people left an impressive legacy that continues to capture the imaginations of archaeologists and historians alike. In this article, you’ll learn everything you need to know about the Chaco civilization for the AP World History test.




You can read and watch videos on the Chaco Civilization using Google Slides, or you can scroll down to read on the website.


Chaco Culture National Historical Park
Chaco Culture National Historical Park 1881887239/Shutterstock

Chaco Civilization

The Chaco civilization refers to a pre-Columbian civilization that thrived in the American Southwest, primarily in the Four Corners region of the United States, between approximately 850 AD and 1250 AD.


Chaco Canyon: The heart of the Chaco civilization was Chaco Canyon in present-day New Mexico. This site featured a complex of monumental buildings and kivas, and it served as the political, economic, and religious hub of the culture.


Puebloan Culture: The Chaco civilization was part of the broader Puebloan culture of the American Southwest, characterized by the construction of multi-story, adobe buildings and kivas (underground rooms) for ceremonial purposes.


Great Houses: Chaco Canyon is home to several remarkable “great houses,” including Pueblo Bonito and Chetro Ketl. These structures are characterized by their intricate masonry and the alignment of walls and openings with astronomical events.


Roads and Infrastructure: The Chacoans developed an extensive road system connecting their great houses and other outlying sites. These roads are believed to have served both practical and ceremonial purposes.


Agriculture and Irrigation: The Chacoans practiced agriculture in the arid region by using terraces and canals for irrigation, allowing them to cultivate maize, beans, and squash.


Trade and Turquoise: The Chaco civilization was involved in long-distance trade networks, which allowed them to acquire valuable resources such as turquoise, shells, and macaw feathers from distant regions.


Decline and Abandonment: The Chaco civilization reached its peak around the 11th century but began to decline in the 12th century. The reasons for this decline and the eventual abandonment of Chaco Canyon remain the subject of scholarly debate and may include factors such as environmental challenges, social changes, and resource depletion.


Mesa Verde

Mesa Verde is a national park located in the southwestern United States, in the state of Colorado. It is renowned for its exceptional archaeological sites, primarily the well-preserved cliff dwellings and pueblo villages of the Ancestral Puebloans, who inhabited the region from approximately 550 to 1300 AD. Mesa Verde, which means “green table” in Spanish, is named for the flat-topped mesas that dominate the landscape.


Cliff Dwellings: The park is famous for its cliff dwellings, which are multi-story stone structures built into natural alcoves in the canyon walls. These dwellings are some of the most elaborate and best-preserved examples of Ancestral Puebloan architecture in North America. Notable sites include Cliff Palace, Balcony House, and Spruce Tree House.


Pueblo Villages: In addition to the cliff dwellings, Mesa Verde contains a variety of surface pueblo villages, including the Long House and Step House. These villages provide insights into the daily life, agriculture, and culture of the Ancestral Puebloans.


Kivas: Kivas, underground ceremonial chambers, are found in various sites throughout Mesa Verde. They were important for religious and communal activities and continue to be a subject of study and intrigue.



Would you prefer to watch a video about the Chaco civilization?




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Cate O'Donnell

3 min read

Dec 24, 2023

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0

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