Escalante Pueblo was a compact village on a hilltop overlooking the Dolores River. Archaeologists believe it was occupied three different times, based on tree-ring dating of the wood used in its construction. Ancestral Pueblo people built the main complex in AD 1129 and lived there for at least nine years. The Spanish explorers Escalante and Dominguez recorded this site in 1776 during their exploration of the Southwest.
The pueblo is a rectangular block of about 28 rooms surrounding a kiva (a round subterranean room probably used for religious purposes). Other rooms were work areas, sleeping quarters, and storage. These rooms are larger than those typically found in the local region, and walls were made of parallel faces enclosing a rubble fill core- features typical of Chaco Canyon style construction.
The architecture and masonry indicate that Escalante Pueblo was one of the northernmost Chaco outliers-- settlements strongly influenced by the cultural region of Chaco Canyon, New Mexico, about 100 miles south. Outliers appear to have belonged to a vast system spread across the Four Corners area. Escalante may have been a gathering place for religious or social activities of people in the smaller surrounding villages. Lowry Pueblo is another nearby Chaco outlier.
After a short abandonment, the pueblo was reoccupied about AD 1150 by people from the local Northern San Juan branch of the Anasazi tradition. A final occupation, also by the Northern San Juan people, was very short and occurred sometime around AD 1200.
This small structure at the Anasazi Heritage Center sits at the base of a hill below the much larger Escalante Pueblo. The site has four rooms marked by low stone walls- all that remains of a roofed structure built about AD 1123 with poles, brush and earth. The easternmost room appears to have been added after the first three were built. Just south of this room block is a dirt-walled kiva 11 feet in diameter. It was not possible to stabilize the kiva, so it was reburied to keep it intact. This site was probably the home of four to six people.
Dominguez Pueblo,with its blocky stonework and separate kiva, belongs to the local Northern San Juan branch of the Ancestral Pueblo culture. Although it may seem small and architecturally undramatic, the site is significant because it shows that local people were in close contact with the Chaco-style Escalante Pueblo. Its proximity to Escalante, and their overlapping dates, suggest that the two settlements shared some community activities.
Text and Map from Anasazi Heritage Center website.