Inside Great Kiva
Aztec Ruins National Monument, New Mexico, 2013
The name "Aztec Ruins" is a complete misnomer for at least two reasons. First, the Aztecs didn't build these structures in northwest New Mexico, just outside the town of Aztec and only a few miles from Farmington. They were built by ancestral Pueblos in a style rather similar to the structures built at Chaco, and it is thought that "Aztec" served as the same kind of influential cultural center as Chaco. Second, the descendants of the ancestral Pueblos don't consider these to be ruins at all. Many keep both spiritual and cultural ties to the place and especially to the Great Kiva, central in both the layout and the life of the community. The Great Kiva was excavated in 1921 by Earl Morris, who supervised its reconstruction in 1934. Photo © copyright by Greg Owens.