Peoples of the Mesa Verde Region

The Paleoindian Period: 13,000 (or earlier) to 6000 B.C.



Paleoindian house and windbreak. Illustration by Joyce Heuman Kramer; copyright Crow Canyon Archaeological Center.

"Cutaway" view of a Paleoindian house (right), showing the fire hearth and details of wall construction. Some Paleoindian sites also have evidence of windbreaks (left).

People during the Paleoindian period were constantly on the move. So it makes sense that their houses would have consisted of simple, temporary structures. Actual evidence, however, is rare, because the structures were built so long ago and the materials used in their construction were highly perishable.

At the very few Paleoindian sites where evidence of houses has survived, it appears that these structures were small, conical "lodges" consisting of poles covered with brush and daub (mud) or perhaps animal hides. Sometimes large stones were used to support the posts, both inside and outside the structure.

Rarely, archaeologists have also uncovered evidence of windbreaks or food-drying racks located next to Paleoindian houses.

Learn more . . .

Read about a Paleoindian house excavated by archaeologists in southwestern Colorado.