Looking at the volcanic tuff wall with rows of holes dug for roof beams 700 years ago
The volcanic tuff wall with rows of 700-year-old doors and holes to mount roof beams
A spiral petroglyph from the wall
A spiral petroglyph

The first settlers in the area of Puyé (meaning: Pueblo ruin where the rabbits meet) arrived around 900 CE, a time when pithouses were all the rage. The living was good on the eastern slopes of the Jemez Mountains: planting was good and there was plenty of rain and game. Time passed and technology improved. The planting got better and the people began gathering in larger and larger villages.

The actual site at Puyé is two sets of cliff dwellings on two terraces of a 200-foot-high volcanic tuff cliff. One set of cliff dwellings is more than a mile long, the other set about 2,100 feet long. On the mesa top are cave dwellings surrounded by a multi-story pueblo ruin. There were ladders everywhere and stairways carved into the soft volcanic tuff.

As a village, Puyé did well until the late 1500s when another long drought set in. When the people had enough, they moved down the hill several miles and rebuilt along the banks of Santa Clara Creek, much closer to the Rio Grande. That's what they were doing when Don Diego de Vargas arrived in 1598.

Today's potters at Santa Clara are still digging clay in some of the areas where the potters of Puyé dug. They are still using the same techniques to make and decorate their pottery, too.

A stone building extending out from the volcanic tuff cliff
A building extends out from the volcanic tuff wall
Photos courtesy of Einar Kvaran, CCA-by-SA 3.0 License

Sites of the Ancients and approximate dates of occupation:

Ancestors Index
Atsinna : 1275-1350
Awatovi : 1200-1701
Aztec : 1100-1275
Bandelier : 1200-1500
Betatakin : 1275-1300
Casa Malpais : 1260-1420
Chaco : 850-1145
Cicuyé : 800-1838
Fourmile : 1276-1450
Giusewa : 1560-1680
Hawikuh : 1400-1680
Homolovi : 1100-1400
Hovenweep : 50-1350
Jeddito : 800-1700
Kawaika'a : 1375-1580
Keet Seel : 1250-1300
Kuaua : 325-1580
Mesa Verde : 600-1275
Montezuma Castle : 1200-1400
Payupki : 1680-1745
Poshuouingeh : 1375-1500
Pottery Mound : 1320-1550
Puyé : 1200-1580
Sikyátki : 1375-1625
Snaketown : 300 BCE-1050
Tonto Basin : 700-1450
Tuzigoot : 1125-1400
Wupatki/Wukoki : 500-1225
Wupatupqa : 1100-1250
Yucca House : 1100-1275