"Scenes at Pueblo del Arroyo" Chaco Culture National Historical Park Travelogue by AlbuqRay

Trail to Tri-Wall Addition

The Pueblo del Arroyo great house originally stood up to four stories, and contained roughly 125 ground floor rooms. With approximately 300 total rooms and 17 kivas, it was the fourth largest of the Chacoan great houses. Construction occurred in discrete episodes, with initial activity occurring during the A.D. 1060's and additions into the first decades of the 12th century. After completion of the main roomblock, a tri-wall structure was added to the great house on the northwest side next to the Chaco Wash in the 1100's. Pueblo del Arroyo is also unique in that it does not have a great kiva, earthen mounds, or a south-facing plaza.

Tri-Wall Addition on NW Side of Pueblo del Arroyo

While tri-wall structures occur at other sites in the Southwest (notably Aztec Ruins), Pueblo del Arroyo is the only site in Chaco Canyon to have one. This tri-walled kiva was built with the softer, tan-colored sandstone from the lower walls of the canyon. A distinctive black-and-white pottery was also found here. This indicates a later construction period (A.D. 1100-1150). The tri-walled construction (and pottery) also indicate contact with people at Aztec Ruins, Mesa Verde, and others on the western slopes of the Chuska Mountains.

Restoration on South Side of Pueblo Del Arroyo

There is a 100-foot long room on the other side of the south wall. During its original construction, this unusually long wall started to lean outward, so several buttress walls were added. Later the buttresses were used as foundations for additional rooms.

Multi-Floor Construction at Pueblo del Arroyo

Pueblo del Arroyo originally stood up to four stories high in some places. Decreasing wall widths as a function of height show that the upper stories were planned before the first floor was built. This type of construction also takes a lot of water. Core and veneer masonary walls contain 40-60% water by volume. This was a big issue in a dry area like Chaco Canyon.

This picture shows evidence of multi-story construction. Some of the original vigas and latillas are in the foreground. They would have been covered with bundles of willows, juniper splints, reeds, and other plants, then covered with mud mortar or packed adobe. The roof of one room would be the floor of the room above it. Access from floor to floor was by log ladders carved with steps.

Pueblo Del Arroyo Room with a View

This is a second floor room at southeast corner of Pueblo del Arroyo. Just outside it is the unexcavated rubble of an arc of one-story rooms that enclosed the plaza. This window has an excellent view of Pueblo Bonito (see the next photo).

Pueblo Bonito from Pueblo del Arroyo Window

The trail guide says that Pueblo del Arroyo faces east rather than south like the other Chacoan great houses, roughly oriented to the sun's position on the horizon during the winter solstice. However, it actually faces southeast toward Pueblo Bonito. Could these be "budget" rooms with views of ceremonies at Pueblo Bonito?

Ground-Floor Room on Pueblo del Arroyo Plaza

This room is at #11 in the trail guide. It has remnants of the original plaster, which are almost 1000 years old. Tree-ring dating of samples from the lintels pinpointed the cutting date of this Douglas fir tree at A.D. 1104.

Corn Grinding Room at Pueblo del Arroyo

The corn grinding room (Room 55) at #14 in the trail guide is the room in the center foreground. It was built around A.D. 1078 and remodeled in the early 1100's. There are six mealing bins, each with a metate. These bins were positioned so that the person grinding with their mano could brace themselves with their feet and back against a wall for support.

  • Page Updated May 9, 2016
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