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Identification:

Preferred Structure Name:
Montezuma Castle
Structure Number:
AZ O:5:14
Other Structure Name(s):
 
Other Structure Name(s)
1. 
88A-63
2. 
NA 1278
3. 
MOCA00007
Park:
Montezuma Castle National Monument
Historic District:
 
Historic District
1. 
Montezuma Castle National Monument Castle Unit
Structure State:
Arizona
Structure County:
Yavapai
Region:
Intermountain
Cluster:
Southwest
Administrative Unit:
Montezuma Castle National Monument
LCS ID:
006590
 
Historical Significance:

National Register Status:
Entered - Documented
National Register Date:
11/20/1978
National Historic Landmark?:
No
Significance Level:
Contributing
Short Significance Description:
Feature of Montezuma Castle National Monument: Castle Unit, nationally significant under NR Criteria C & D. Period of Significance: A.D. 1125-1400. Remains of a large cliff dwelling that represents the Honanki – Tuzigoot phases of Southern Sinagua.
Long Significance Description:
Montezuma Castle, is the main feature of the Montezuma Castle National Monument: Castle Unit, which is significant at the national level under National Register Criterion C for it embodies the characteristics of a type and period and under National Register Criterion D because it has yielded, and is likely to yield further, information important in prehistory.

The original construction and occupation of this site represents the Honanki-Tuzigoot phases of the Southern Sinagua culture. It was built and occupied during Honanki phase (circa AD 1125) through Tuzigoot phase (AD 1300-1425). The site was abandoned sometime after AD 1425. Period of Significance ranges approximately from AD 1125 to 1400.

The Castle is one of the finest examples of prehistoric architecture in the Southwest, and is certainly a unique example of Southern Sinagua architecture. The Castle has been visited by Europeans for over a century, and is currently the most widely visited archeological site in the state.
 
Construction Period:

Construction Period:
Prehistoric
Chronology:
 
Physical Event
Begin Year
Begin Year AD/BC
End Year
End Year AD/BC
Designer
Designer Occupation
1. 
Built
1200
AD
1400
AD
Southern Sinagua, Tuzigoot Phase
Other
2. 
Stabilized
1897
AD
1897
AD
Arizona Antiquarian Association
Other
3. 
Stabilized
1923
AD
1925
AD
NPS - Frank Pinkley
Other
4. 
Stabilized
1937
AD
1939
AD
NPS
Other
5. 
Altered
1947
AD
1947
AD
NPS
Other
6. 
Stabilized
1964
AD
1965
AD
NPS - Ruins Stabilization Unit
Other
7. 
Stabilized
1974
AD
1974
AD
NPS
Other
8. 
Stabilized
1984
AD
1984
AD
NPS
Other
9. 
Stabilized
1996
AD
1997
AD
NPS
Other
 
Function and Use:

Primary Historic Function:
Multiple Dwelling
Primary Current Use:
Ruin
Structure Contains Museum Collections?:
No
Other Functions or Uses:
 
Other Function(s) or Use(s)
Historic or Current
1. 
Exhibit
Current
2. 
Ruin
Historic
 
Physical Description:

Structure Type:
Ruin
Volume:
20,000 - 2,000,000 cubic feet
Square Feet:
4000
Material(s):
 
Structural Component(s)
Material(s)
1. 
Walls
Stone
2. 
Roof
Wood
3. 
Foundation
Stone
Short Physical Description:
A five-story stone structure with 20 rooms, 50 feet above the valley floor. The walls are constructed of limestone and mud mortar with earthen roof and floors. Some of the architectural features: viga and latilla ceilings, interior plastered walls, storage holes, fireplaces and roof hatchways.
Long Physical Description:
Montezuma Castle is a twenty room, five story cliff dwelling situated in a limestone rock shelter fifty feet above the valley floor. While most of the cultural deposits have been removed long ago by settlers and visitors, the architectural integrity of Montezuma Castle remains.

The walls were constructed of unshaped limestone blocks, set in a soil mortar. Most surfaces were finished with mud plaster. The lower portion of the structure was replastered by Pinkley in the 1920s and redone by the National Park Service in 1997. The upper portion of the structure is still the original plaster. There are both interior and exterior doorways; most are rectangular but a few have the classic “T” shape associated with this period of construction. Other openings include small windows and loopholes, ceiling hatchways, and vents near the floor.

The roofs were of viga and latilla construction topped with grass and mud. Those roofs used as upper floors were plastered. Other floors were either bedrock or puddle adobe. Some floor were filled with earth to bring them up to a standard level before finishing.

No hearths are now in existence, due to modern alteration, but staining on the walls and ceilings shows that many of the rooms had a fireplace of some sort.