Dean M. Chriss
Kiva and Ladder, Montezuma Canyon, Utah
(Click image to enlarge)
Kivas are subterranean structures generally believed to have been used by Ancient Pueblo Peoples, the Mogollon and the Hohokam, for religious and other communal purposes. Kivas are entered through a hole in the roof. A stone bench for sitting lines the inside wall, interrupted by support columns for the roof. Near the center of the kiva is a fire pit. A ventilation shaft, generally located on the eastern side of the kiva, supplies floor-level air for the fire. Part of the fire pit can be seen in this image, but the ventilation shaft is off the left side and is not visible. There is a hole or indentation in the floor called a sipapu. It symbolizes the connection from birth with Mother Earth. It may also represent the spot from which the original inhabitants emerged from the lower world.