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Roads to the Past Preserving Signs of the PastWhere Are They NowAbout the ExhibitionEducational ResourcesHome Taos Valley

By AD 1250, the abandonment of the great ceremonial center of Chaco Canyon and much of the Four Corners region was complete. Where these people went remained a mystery to archaeologists for years. However, the oral history of contemporary Pueblos tells us that the people moved to places such as the Taos Valley where they had abundant game, fertile soil, and perennial water sources.

The people of Taos Pueblo speak of their origin and migration from the cardinal directions before settling into the Taos Valley. Numerous highway archaeology excavations provide evidence in the archaeological record for the oral migration stories of Taos Pueblo. These data support a sudden appearance of different peoples in the Taos Valley in the AD 1100's as frontier settlements sprang up in the once thinly populated region. Archaeologists found that communities on the northern end of the valley contained rectangular pit houses and those on the south had round ones, reinforcing the oral history of two contemporary groups with different economies and worldviews. These people eventually united in the AD 1300's at the present site of Taos Pueblo, which became the "Place of Red Willows."

This circular pithouse found at a site near Pot Creek in the southern Taos Valley, dates between AD 1100-1350.

These maps of pithouses excavated near Arroyo Hondo are examples of the rectangular style of pithouse common in the northern Taos Valley.

Examples of designs found on Taos Black-on-white ceramics from the Pot Creek area, dating between AD 1100-1350.