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Puebloan roomblocks

Architectural terminology in Southwestern archaeology

A short post created essentially to help me start to learn Southwestern ethnologists’ terms of art. Many thanks to Matt Taliaferro for fielding my confused queries about some very basic architectural vocabulary. And many apologies to him if any of the following is incorrect! 

The image below is an ubiquitous plan view in anthropological works dealing with the indigenous peoples of the Four Corners region. It shows a set of roomblocks and one isolated room.

Ruin near Moen-kopi

Ruin near Moen-kopi. Fig. 4 in Victor Mindeleff’s “A study of Pueblo architecture, Tusayan and Cibola.” Eighth Annual Report of the Bureau of Ethnology, 1891.

What is the difference between a roomblock and an isolated room? My doodle below illustrates a three room roomblock (F1) and an isolated room (F2), both entirely notional.


F1 is a 3 room roomblock, F2 an isolated room.

What would structures such as these have looked like when in use? The Crow Canyon Archaeological Center has created the very nice illustration of an eight room roomblock and accompanying kiva below, which, just for fun, I have represented as a plan map.

Pueblo II farmstead

A notional Pueblo II farmstead via



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