Elden Pueblo Archaeology Site

Elden Pueblo is the site of an ancient Sinagua (Sin ah’ wa) village, inhabited from about A.D. 1070 to 1275. The site is unique for a variety of reasons. Most importantly, it makes archaeology and the study of ancient peoples accessible to the public. Since 1978, professional archaeologists have supervised members of the public in excavations, archaeological research techniques and artifact analysis through a variety of public and school programs.

Site Map of the PuebloDating to the period between AD 1100 -1275 (about 800 years ago), Elden Pueblo is a 60-70 room Sinagua pueblo containing mounds, smaller pueblos, pit houses, and other features. It is located one half mile west of Mt. Elden in Flagstaff, AZ. The modern day Hopi consider the site a special ancestral place called pasiovi or pavasioki.

Elden Pueblo was first studied in 1926 by archaeologist Jesse Walter Fewkes. Later, the US Forest Service began to study the site and in the process developed a public archaeology education program focused on the following three topics:

  1. teaching the public about the lives of the Sinagua people at Elden,
  2. field methods in archaeology, and
  3. to facilitate on-going research and protection at Elden Pueblo.



Elden Pueblo History ThumbnailThe Elden Pueblo Archaeological Project is a cooperative endeavor between the Coconino National Forest, Northern Arizona University, the Arizona Natural History Association, and the Arizona Archaeological Society to provide educational opportunities in archaeology.

The archaeological programs provide hands-on mapping, excavation, laboratory, and analytical experiences for participants under professional supervision. Through these personal experiences, participants are made aware of archaeological concepts, values, laws, and practices. Join us in our quest to learn about the past and present pueblo cultures by investigating the clues people left behind.

For more information, see Elden Pueblo Archaeological Project program information.


The Sinagua

Archaeologists know the Sinagua (See-nah-wa), a name taken from a Spanish explorer's term for the San Francisco peaks -- "People of the Sierra Sinagua," lived in the Flagstaff area from about AD 700 to about 1300. Archaeologists typically differentiate between the northern Sinagua who lived above the Mogollon Rim Photo showing various aspects of Sinagua life and the Southern Sinagua who occupied the area in the Verde River Valley.

Sinagua material culture displayed a great deal of variability over time and space (See architecture, pottery, stone tools, food, agriculture, trade). The Sinagua people did not disappear. They left the area around A.D. 1300 to continue their migrations. Many Hopi people believe that their ancestors, the Hisatsinom, are the Sinagua people.

Today, archaeologists investigate the Sinagua way of life to find out how they lived, with whom they traded, and what their natural environment was like.

(See the Glossary for definitions and descriptions of the words in italics.)


Frequently Asked Questions

What did the Sinagua eat?

The Sinagua hunted animals such as elk and mule deer, gathered plants in the forests, and grew crops including corn.


Where did the people at Elden get water?

There are no major rivers or lakes near Elden Pueblo. A fresh water spring provides year round water and is located on Mt. Elden, about a 45 minute walk from the pueblo. The Sinagua probably stored snow and rain water as well.


How long did the Sinagua live at Elden Pueblo?

The pueblo was occupied for at least 300 years.


Why did the people leave?

Evidence of plant and pollen remains suggests that the environment changed. The ponderosa pine trees were not abundant at the time the pueblo was abandoned. Perhaps the people overexploited the environment. The Hopi suggested that it was time to move on and find a new home on the Hopi mesas.


How many people lived at Elden Pueblo?

If the 60 to 70 rooms were all occupied at the same time, with approximately 5 people living in each room, roughly 300 - 350 people could have lived at Elden Pueblo.


If you have other questions, please feel free to ask one of our archaeologists.




The Elden Pueblo Archaeology Project is supported in partnership with the Arizona Natural History Association.

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