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2010-11-25 21:16:30
Mesa Verde National Park is a U.S. National Park and UNESCO World Heritage Site located in Montezuma County, Colorado, United States. The park occupies 81.4 square miles (211 km2) (211 square kilometers) near the Four Corners and features numerous ruins of homes and villages built by the Ancestral Puebloan people, sometimes called the Anasazi. The Ancestral Puebloans made these stone villages their home in the 1200s[disambiguation needed] AD, however, the first Ancestral Puebloans settled in Mesa Verde over 600 years before the cliff dwellings were ever built. These first people are known as the Basketmakers and they lived in pithouses clustered into small villages usually built on mesa tops but sometimes in the overhangs of the cliffs. These hunter gatherer people settled and began farming and using the bow and arrow, a weapon that was more efficient and accurate than the atlatl. By 750 CE, the people were building mesa-top villages made of adobe. By the late 12th century they began to build the cliff dwellings for which Mesa Verde is famous. Mesa Verde is best known for several spectacular cliff dwellings — structures built within caves and under outcroppings in cliffs — including Cliff Palace, which is thought to be the largest cliff dwelling in North America. The Spanish term Mesa Verde translates into English as "green table"