Around 800 A.D. evolution had produced some highly intelligent and
creative humans who inhabited the area now known as southeastern Nevada, and the
Four Corners region of New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona and Utah. These ancient
humans were called the Anasazi. For 200 years, the Anasazis' Pueblo
Grande territory dominated the area in both growth and sophistication.
Historians believe that the Anasazi built intricate apartment-dwellings
and were expert traders of turquoise gemstones, handwoven clothes, and
The Anasazi domain was centered in New Mexico's Chaco Canyon. The
canyon's natural springs and fertile soil contributed to the tribe's
population growth, as did the idea exchange between the Anasazis and the
exotic cultures with whom they interacted.
But by the year 1000 A.D., the Pueblo Grande metropolitan center of
commerce and growth was gone -- the Anasazi had vanished. And all that remained
was the empty shell of a once-thriving civilization.
In the 1930s, the area near Las Vegas, Nevada once inhabited by the
Anasazi, received national attention. The proposed Boulder Dam (now Hoover Dam)
and the waters of Lake Mead were expected to inundate the priceless
archaeological finds. Some of the artifacts were moved and are now
housed in The Lost City Museum at Overton, Nevada, about an hour's drive from Las
There has been much speculation on why the Anasazi vanished. Some
archaeologists believe that a severe drought forced the tribe to move to
a more inhabitable area. Other theories suggest that malaria-laden
mosquitoes, overpopulation, or the aggression of neighboring tribes decimated the
But in fact, no one knows. These ancient tribespeople left the world in a
quandry, wondering about them and their existence. The Anasazi left
behind petroglyphs or rock-carvings, scattered throughout the five-state
territory, that continue to perplex the experts even today.
Be sure to read Part Two, "The Chaco Phenomenon, Unanswered Questions".
Karal Ayn Barnett is a freelance writer living in Las Vegas, Nevada.
(Note: The story on this page is Copyright © 2000, by Karal Ayn Barnett. This story may not be reproduced, reprinted,
or used in any way without the permission of the author.)