Anasazi Timeline - Chronology of the Ancestral Pueblo People

The History of the Anasazi in a Nutshell

Pueblo Alto Ruins, Chaco Canyon, New Mexico
Pueblo Alto Ruins, Chaco Canyon, New Mexico. Greg Willis

Anasazi Timeline

The Anasazi (Ancestral Pueblo) chronology was broadly defined in 1927 by southwestern archaeologist Alfred V. Kidder, during one of the Pecos Conferences, the annual conference of southwestern archaeologists. This chronology is still used today, with minor changes within different subregions.

  • Southwestern Late Archaic (1500 BC- AD 200): marks the end of the Archaic period (started at around 5500 BC). The Late Archaic in the Southwest is when the first appearance of domesticated plants in the American Southwest (Atl Atl Cave, Chaco Canyon)
  • Basketmaker II (AD 200-500): People relied more on cultivated plants, such as maize, beans, and squash and began to construct pithouse villages. The end of this period saw the first appearance of pottery.
  • Basketmaker III (AD 500-750): more sophisticated pottery, first great kivas are constructed, introduction of bow and arrow in hunting (Shabik'eshchee village, Chaco Canyon)
  • Pueblo I (AD 750-900): residential structures are built above ground, and masonry is added to the adobe constructions. In Chaco Canyon villages are now moving from the cliff tops to the bottom of the canyon.
  • Early Pueblo II - Bonito phase at Chaco Canyon (AD 900-1000): increase in the number of villages. First multi-storied rooms constructed at Pueblo Bonito, Peñasco Blanco and Una Vida in Chaco Canyon. See the Rise and Fall of Chaco Canyon: Bonito Phase for more details on this important period. 
  • Pueblo II - Classic Bonito phase in Chaco Canyon (AD 1000-1150): period of major development in Chaco Canyon. Great house sites, such as Pueblo Bonito, Peñasco Blanco, Pueblo del Arroyo, Pueblo Alto, Chetro Ketl reach now their final form. Irrigation and road systems are constructed.
  • Pueblo III (AD 1150-1300):
    • Late Bonito phase in Chaco Canyon (AD 1150-1220): population decline, no more elaborated constructions in the main centers.
    • Mesa Verde phase in Chaco Canyon (AD 1220-1300): Mesa Verde materials are found in Chaco Canyon. This has been interpreted as a period of increased contact between Chacoan and Mesa Verde pueblo groups. By 1300, Chaco Canyon definitely declined and was no longer occupied.
  • Pueblo IV and Pueblo V (AD 1300-1600 and 1600-present): Chaco Canyon is abandoned, but other ancestral pueblo sites continue ​to be occupied for few centuries. By 1500 Navajo groups entered the region and established themselves until the Spanish takeover.


Cordell, Linda 1997, Archaeology of the Southwest. Second Edition. Academic Press

Vivian, R. Gwinn Vivian and Bruce Hilpert 2002, The Chaco Handbook. An Encyclopedic Guide, The University of Utah Press, Salt Lake City