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A home to about 1500 Pueblo Americans Indians from the 900s to 1580 A.D, the Puye Cliff Dwellings is actually a cliff ridge formed from volcanic tuff, a type of rock consisting of consolidated volcanic ash ejected from vents during a volcanic eruption. Pueblo Indians, who lived, farmed and hunted here carved their houses in the 200 feet high cliff composed of rather soft rocks that can be dug out using wooden and stone tools.

The Puye Cliff Dwellings is comprised of two levels of abodes with openings or entrances carved on the face of the cliff. The first level stretches to about 2100 feet while the second level encompasses over a mile long. The second level also serves as the base of the mesa on top of the cliff where a single, multi-storied complex built around a large, central plaza or 'Community House' that somewhat connects to the cave dwellings is found. Considered as an example of early Pueblo architecture, the cliff holds an estimated 740 rooms constructed from talus blocks (an accumulation of broken rock fragments) supported by rows of pillar holes that would also have supported roof beams for the block house formed into the cliff?s facade. Many of these rooms grew to be several stories high houses (similar to modern-day Taos Pueblo) and the fa?ade holes were used as back rooms of these dwellings. The pillar holes maybe used also as anchor points for about a dozen of wood ladders and walkways used to reach the cliff houses and to climb the top of the mesa.

However, drought forced the Puye Cliffs' inhabitants to leave which is today among the largest of the prehistoric Indian settlements on the Pajarito Plateau and then relocate into the Rio Grande River valley. They became the ancestors of today's Santa Clara people, who now live at Santa Clara Pueblo situated 10 miles east of Puye.
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