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Realm of the ANCIENT ONES - by Laurent Martres

NOTE: this exhibit appeared in June 2001. Click here to visit the current showcase.

All other exhibits: Click here to access

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Mesa Verde kiva



Let's enter the world of the Ancient Ones through this ladder, going down into a Kiva, or ceremonial chamber.

Spruce Tree House


Spruce Tree House

Spruce Tree House is the most visited cliff dwelling in Mesa Verde Nat'l Park. It's spread under an overhang in a lovely canyon.


Spruce Tree House


Inside Spruce Tree House

Mesa Verde's cliff dwellings were reconstructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps during the Great depression. They did a masterful job by not overdoing it.

Mesa Verde Cliff Palace


Cliff Palace

With 217 rooms and 23 kivas, Cliff Palace is the largest of all the Ancient Puebloan cliff dwellings.


Mesa Verde Square Tower ruin


Square Tower Ruin

This dwelling is the most exposed to the late afternoon sun. In the last few seconds before sunset, thr ruins are basked in an intense reddish glow.

Bandelier Ceremonial Cave

Ceremonial Cave

Ceremonial Cave is a spectacular kiva, built high on a cliff in Frijoles Canyon, part of Bandelier Nat'k Park, NM. It is reached by a series of tall vertical ladders.

Nine Mile Canyon Hunting Scene

Hunting Scene

This petroglyph panel. located in Nine Mile Canyon, east of Price, UT is one of the most spectacular examples of Fremont culture, in the northern part of the Anasazi realm.




This interesting site is located on a high plateau at the border of Utah and Colorado. Ruins of the Hovenweep Castle are part of the Aquare Tower group, one of six groups protected by the National Monument.

Canyon de Chelly White House ruin


White House  

Canyon de Chelly contains numerous Ancient Puebloan ruins, but none as spectacular as White House. This dwelling was abandonned by the "Anasazi" around AD 1300. A late afternoon sun reveals extraordinary texture on the sandstone overhang.

Canyon de Chelly Mummy cave


Mummy Cave

Mummy Cave rests on a rocky promontary, halfway up a cliff. It is the most interesting of the Canyon del Muerto dwellings.



House on Fire

These granaries appear on fire in the reflected light of Mule Canyon.


Caved Roof Alcove

Water infiltrations caused the sandstone roof to fall down from this alcove, revealing extraordinary patterns and colors.

San Rafael Reef Black Dragon

The Black Dragon

This amazing rock painting of a pterodactyl-like creature has long puzzled archaeologists. Unfortunately, the unprotected painting has recently be outlined with chalk. Drawings created by painting on rock are called pictographs, as opposed to drawings carved on rock surfaces, which are called petroglyphs.


Great Kiva

Aztec Ruins's reconstructed Great Kiva shows the talent and artistry of the Aztec/Chaco architects.

Inside Passage

Aztec Ruins's has stone dwellings interconnected by a single long passage.

Chaco Canyon Puebo Bonito


Storm over Chaco

Chaco Canyon is arguably the most remarkable archaeological site in North America. It was the most important administrative, trade and ceremonial center for the Anasazi and certainly a meeting place of cultures, where Hohokam and Mogollon tribes came into contact with the Anasazi.



Pueblo Bonito

Pueblo Bonito, at Chaco Canyon, had about 700 rooms and 30 kivas. It was the largest pueblo in the area. It is estimated that 5,000 people lived in the canyon.


Aztec Ruins Chaco Masonry


Chaco-style Masonry

Masonry styles evolved drastically over three centuries of building and occupation of Chaco Canyon. This is probably the most refined architectural style of all Ancient Puebloan dwellings. This pueblo was abandoned ca. 1350 AD.


Casa Grande

The Great House at Casa Grande is a testimony to the talent of the Hohokam builders.

The Great Gallery Horseshoe Canyon

The Great Gallery

This panel is the most famous and specatular display of Barrier style rock art. It is at least three thousand years old.

Harvest Scene

Harvest Scene

The Harvest scene panel is estimated to be three or four thousand years old. It is very exposed to the elements and, consequently, very faint. It depicts antropomorphs involved in harvesting.

Keet Seel

Keet Seel

Keet Seel is a very special place. Although, it's hard to get to, the fact that it's almost completely untouched makes the long hike well worth it. Wandering through the "town", one feels like the Anasazi inhabitants are out harvesting and will come back any minute. Although Keet Seel is located in Navajo Nat'l Monument, the Navajo are latecomers to the region and are not related to the Ancient Puebloans, which the Navajo call Anasazi. The Hopi, on the other hand, are true descendants of the Puebloans.



Wupatki preserves several beautiful Sinagua pueblos, in the shadow of Sunset Crater.

Walnut Canyon

Walnut Canyon

Another Sinagua pueblo. The location is spectacular, but the dwellings have been horribly pillaged in the late 19th century.

Montezuma Castle

Montezuma Castle

Erroneously named after the famous Aztec chieftain, this Sinagua dwelling was actually built around AD1250, well before Montezuma's time. The dwelling is located high on a limestone cliff and was accessible only through a series of retractable ladders.

Wolfe Ranch Arches

Wolfe Ranch

These "modern" Ute petrogryphs in Arches Nat'l Park were carved after the arrival of the Spaniards and the introduction of horses to North-America.

Acoma Mission

The Mission of San Esteban del Rey, established in 1640 by a Franciscan friar. The sheer size of the mission is striking. It's all the more impressive when you consider that the massive beams forming the roof were carried all the way from Mount Taylor, 30 miles away, on the back of Acoma's men.

Sky City

Perched high on a flat mesa top, 430 feet above the valley floor, Acoma is a striking sight. Acoma claims to be the oldest continuously inhabited settlement in the United States. According to the tribe's literature, archeologists have recently "theorized" the occupation of Acoma to around 1150 AD.

Zuni Pueblo

The Zuni Pueblo is closely related to Acoma. The Zunis are remarkable artists. Both the Acoma and the Zuni are closely related to the Hopi and are true descendants of the Ancient Puebloans.

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 Please note: All images featured in the "ANASAZI - Realm of the Ancient Ones" showcase are Copyright © Laurent Martres, with all rights reserved. These images are protected by U.S. and international copyright laws and may not be used or reproduced without permission. For questions, licensing and usage information, to order prints, or information, please contact

About the Exhibit: Realm of the Ancient Ones

There are literally thousands of sites and tens of thousands of carvings and paintings scattered all over tthe Southwest. Every other month I try spending a few days in the Southwest and I've been doing so for almost twenty years now. In the course of my travels, I have visited many sites and seen much rock art, but until recently I had never developed a particular interest for Anasazi culture. That was until I went to Keet Seel and had an epiphany. At Keet Seel - a remarkably well-preserved Anasazi cliff dwelling - I felt like the town had just been abandonned a short while ago and Anasazi men, women and children were about to round the bend any minute now and settle again in their town, as if nothng had happened. From that day on, I tried to include as many Anasazi sites as possible in my travels. Although I do not have a scholarly knowledge of the Anasazi, I have visited a large number of archaeological sites or rock art sites. This brief photographic travelogue shows images of some of the more famous Anasazi sites, as well as their immediate surroundings. Many more are described in my books: Land of the Canyons and Photographing the Southwest.

Anasazi means "ancient ones who are not our people" in the Navajo language and, indeed, the Navajo are unrelated to the Anasazi, having settled on the Colorado plateau much later. The Hopi and Zuni, however, trace their roots to the Anasazi and call them Hisatsinom or "people of the past". Regardless, the name Anasazi has become a generic term to describe ancient cultures of the Southwest.

Although Anasazi culture had essentially vanished by the mid 14th century, it left behind many traces of its presence and influence on the land: pottery, baskets, arrowtips, food preparation artifacts such as the metate and mano and, most obvious of all, thousands of granaries, cliff dwellings and pueblos scattered around the Southwest.

About the Photographer: Laurent Martres

I am the owner of this site and author of Land of the Canyons and Photographing the Southwest, photographers' guides to the Southwest. I live in Southern California,where I have been involved in the software industry since the early eighties. My cameras of choice are Fuji 645, although I occasionally shoot with a Mamiya 645 and an Olympus OM-4.

Find photos of the Colorado Plateau in Land of the Canyons and Photographing the Southwest, the Photo Trip USA landscape photography guide books.
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