Keet Seel (Kiet Siel “broken house” in Navajo)
Kiet Siel (Kits’iil, commonly spelled Keet Seel) which stands for “broken house” in Navajo, is a well preserved cliff dwelling of the ancient Anasazi people located in a branch of the Tsegi Canyon in the Kayenta region of Northeastern Arizona.
The old Ancestral Puebloan ruins of Keet Seel were discovered by Richard Wetherill in early 1895 and made a national monument in 1909.
The site was first occupied at around AD 1250, during a time in which a large number of people were believed to be aggregating in sites such as this in this part of the American Southwest.
There was construction at Kiet Siel from AD 1272 to 1275, with construction halting completely at about AD 1286.
At its peak, its believed that up to 150 people inhabited the Kiet Siel this site at one time.
The Discovery of Keet Seel
Source: Fred M. Blackburn November 12, 2005
The Keet Seel cliff house had one room containing the valuables of several Navajo families. Visits there three different years found them there each time. One burial mound that was previously worked proved to be very rich in pottery and burials, more than 100 skeletons being removed and more than 400 pieces of pottery being saved and brought away entire.
The first work at Kiet Siel was done by a party led by Richard Wetherill, and financed by Theodore Bower [Bowles] in 1897. They left Mancos, Colorado, in October, 1896, and reached Kiet Siel in March 1897.
The notes, plans, photographs, and artifacts were turned over to the American Museum of Natural History, New York. W.B. Douglas surveyed and made a plan in August, 1909.
Dr. J. Walter Fewkes, of the Smithsonian Institution, visited the Kiet Siel ruins in September, 1909, and made out a report that came out later. There was a report of 1909 gotten out by Dean Cummings for the University of Utah.
In 1909 W.B. Douglas, of the Land Office in Washington, D.C., looked over the ruins and decided they should be made into a National Monument.
Most of the pottery is of the finest quality in designs of black and white which indicates a developed art in that direction that has not been rivaled. Some of the large ollas, particularly, measuring two feet across are perfect both in shape and design.
At the conclusion of the expedition Richard hoped to sell the collection, rumored at 2000 artifacts for $5500. He would split the collection proceeds with Whitmore and Bowles. Richard eventually settled for a sale to the Hyde brothers of $3000 in January of 1898.
Several fine stone axes are lying about evidently discarded ones but of excellent workmanship and on examining the various timbers about the walls and roofs one can easily see that they were all cut with stone axes from the gnawed off appearance of the ends.
One huge timber lying directly across the front of the outer walls, possibly used at one time for a prop or support with a length of 40 feet and 14 inches in diameter, was cut and trimmed with stone axes which must have required considerable patience, skill, strength and time to cut, showing an admirable side of their character.