Discover an Ancient Solar Calendar and Kiva at Casa MalpaÍs in Springerville
Casa Malpaís is one of the best places in the White Mountains to learn about the region’s ancient history. The Ancestral Puebloan people constructed the site around 1260 A.D. and lived there until 1400 A.D. The rough, dark volcanic rock from the Springerville volcanic field provided the materials for many of the Casa Malpaís structures.
The Ancestral Puebloan people lived across the Four Corners area of the United States, building expansive pueblos and cliffside dwellings, including kivas (congregational spaces used for ceremonies and different gatherings). Additionally, these communities had a strong connection to astronomy, designing complex structures to track celestial objects and mark seasonal events.
On a guided tour of Casa Malpaís, visitors can climb an ancient basalt staircase, see the Great Kiva and marvel at the site’s solar calendar. The calendar was carefully built, allowing a rectangular shaft of light to shine through the structure during the sunset of the spring equinox and summer solstice. Visitors can also see the Bear Claw petroglyph, which lights up during the spring equinox.
Learn more at the museum within the Springerville Heritage Center, including an introductory video about the site by Zuni and Hopi elders. Visitors to the museum can also explore the “living archaeology” program, providing deeper insight into the excavation and laboratory work at the museum with hands-on activities and a closer look at different artifacts.
If you find yourself in eastern Arizona, don’t pass up this unparalleled opportunity to learn about the area’s ancient people and cultures.