Mesa Verde National Park in Montezuma County, Colorado — The American Mountains (Southwest)
Cliff Dwelling Life
Oak Tree House
Oak Tree House is one of the larger cliff dwellings on Mesa Verde, and its residents lived in a busy neighborhood. Fire Temple and New Fire House are just up canyon, Sun Temple sits above on the canyon rim, and many other cliff dwellings are nearby. At least one spring flowed from nearby cliff walls to supply the residents with fresh water.
Refuse such as animal bones and broken pottery were often tossed below.
Plazas were made, in part, from kiva roofs (now missing). These well-lit, open spaces were used for many daily activities.
Sloping alcove floors were leveled by filling in behind retaining walls, providing support for walls and work space for daily activities.
Common Cliff Dwelling Features
Multi-storied masonry walls
Oak Tree House contains at least 60 rooms. The well-built stone masonry walls supported multiple stories. The alcove itself was sometimes used as a roof for upper rooms.
Doorways were either rectangular or T-shaped. The purpose of the T-shape remains a mystery. It may have been symbolic, eased entry into outer rooms, or signified public use rooms.
Oak Tree House has six kivas. Kivas were surrounded by several adjacent rooms. Each kiva and set of rooms may have been used by an extended family.
Timeline: CE=Common Era
550 CE — Semi-nomadic 550 CE — Pithouses 750 CE — Single-story villages 1100 CE — Multi-story villages 1200 CE — Cliff dwellings and late mesa top villages 1300 CE — Migration
Erected by National Park Service.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Anthropology & Archaeology • Architecture • Settlements & Settlers.
Location. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Mesa Verde National Park CO 81330, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Years of Activity (about 600 feet away, measured in a direct line); Oak Tree House (about 600 feet away); Years of Change (about 600 feet away); Split-Level History (about 700 feet away); Time of Transition (about 800 feet away); Ties that Bind (approx. 0.2 miles away); Fire Temple (approx. 0.2 miles away); House of Many Windows (approx. 0.4 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Mesa Verde National Park.
Credits. This page was last revised on July 23, 2020. It was originally submitted on July 22, 2020, by Duane and Tracy Marsteller of Murfreesboro, Tennessee. This page has been viewed 124 times since then and 23 times this year. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on July 22, 2020, by Duane and Tracy Marsteller of Murfreesboro, Tennessee. • Andrew Ruppenstein was the editor who published this page.