Their cultures are classified into the following inexact periods.


The Archaic Period (was called Basketmaker I) (6500 BC - AD 1)


This is a theoretical period for all pre-agrarian societies. Inhabitants of the region were to be hunter-gatherers, living off animals (such as the bighorn sheep, desert tortoise etc) and supplementing their diet with fruit, nuts and seeds.

They did not produce any ceramic objects.


Basketmaker II (100BC/AD1 - 500/500AD) Basket Maker Period

This period marks an important change where agriculture of maize and squash started to appear.

Trade, accompanied by migrants from around Mexico brought development in the form of maize to the Colorado Plateau.

The name for this period comes from the cleverly woven baskets, which were made with willow and lined with gum to make them waterproof. They lived close to Mesa Verde, and produced shallow pit houses and storage cists. These pit houses were typically excavated 3 to 4 feet deep with mud floors and walls, a thatch roof supported by poles and a central fireplace.


Basketmaker III (500/550- 700/750) Modified Basket Maker Period

Building development became more complex, with the establishment of villages with deep adobe pit houses, built in caves or on Mesa tops with rich land around. Maize, Beans, Squash and Cotton were cultivated, while Bow and Arrows were now used for hunting, which was superior to the atlatl and enabled them to hunt smaller and faster animals.


Rock Art started to become popular in this period including early flute-player images, and well-crafted black and white ceramic pottery became more wide-spread.


The Developmental Pueblo Period  (700 - 1100)

This period covers (Pueblo I (700-900) and Pueblo II (900-1100)) and marks the development of full-scale communities and an arable subsistence. Irrigation for farming started to be used. The Pueblo, a house bigger than the pit-house and build above ground start to appear. Masonry is used, typically sandstone blocks.

Great Pueblo Period  [Pueblo III (1100-1300)]

This was the hey-day of Anasazi civilization, with large, masonry built, multi-storied apartments such as is seen in Mesa Verde and Chaco Canyon.


For More Detail See:


J Q Jacobs South West Archaeology notes

Nicole Torres and Stephen Stuart Website

Early History of the Las Vegas Valley

R G Watson's Spread of Maize to the Colorado Plateau

Anasazi Site Planning





Desert People

Page 1  Page 2