Wupatki Pueblo had over 100 rooms, a tower, community room & a ceremonial ballcourt. Between 1100 & 1200 there were more prople living in this area than ever before or since. Villages here were positioned well for trade, connecting large populations in the northeast and south. At its peak this particular village was the heart of a thriving community, a complex society of several thousand; it was a landmark, a gathering place, and a ceremonial centre.
“The location, height, and size….of this village…suggest it was not a typical household but rather an important meeting place. It had no equal in the region.
“Most people lived in numerous small dwellings found for miles around; those living here may have held ritual and leadership responsibilities.
“Hopi and Zuni oral histories say this was a place where people of diverse origins came together.”
Settled after the eruption of nearby Sunset Crater Volcano, this became a large farming community in spite of it being hot and dry. The cinders from the eruption do conserve moisture which would have been helpful.
Ballcourts weren’t common in northern Arizona like they were in the south from 750-1200AD, leading to the idea that the Wupatki people likely intermingled with the Hohokam to the south from whom they got the ballcourt idea from.
Uses for the ballcourts is still not sure. The obvious is for ball games, possibly an important part of life for these people and the other settlements with similar courts (over 200 in Arizona). This particular court at Wupatki was 78 feet wide, 102 feet long with a 6 foot high wall. Some balls found at similar archeological sites were made of carefully shaped rock and covered with pine pitch or some other material. Possibly the game was like lacrosse….reported to be Canada’s official national sport though most Canadian’s have never played it (including Yours Truly).
Note: Quotes are from signage at the Visitor Center