Tyuonyi is the largest and most dramatic ruin in Bandelier National Monument. Located about 3/10 mile upriver from park headquarters, this communal pueblo has an oval plan, with ranges of what were once multistory housing units of up to 400 rooms and walls built from blocks of volcanic tuff, laid in courses with mud mortar and plaster. The pueblo is laid out around a plaza measuring from between 125 to 140 feet in diameter and containing three round, subterranean rooms, or kivas. A single passageway connects the plaza with the exterior, suggesting a possible defensive function. A subterranean Big Kiva, 42 feet across and 8 feet deep, lies about 100 feet to the east of Tyuonyi.
The pueblo was excavated by Edgar Lee Hewett between 1908 and 1911, at a time when archaeological methods were less meticulous than they later became, with the result that numerous questions remain about its dating and building history. Archaeologists now estimate that construction of the northern section began circa 1350 and that the pueblo was erected in stages, reaching its final form circa 1550.
This National Park Services site is open to the public during regularly scheduled hours, with shuttle transportation from the White Rock Visitor Center required for park entry between late May and mid October.
Hewett, Edgar L. “The Excavations at Tyuonyi, New Mexico, 1908.” American Anthropologist 11, no. 3 (July-September 1909): 434-455.
Hendron, Jerome W. Prehistory of El Rito de Frijoles: Bandelier National Monument. Coolidge, AZ: Southwestern Monuments Association, 1940.
Kohler, Timothy A., Sarah Herr, and Matthew J. Root. ‘The Rise and Fall of Towns on the Pajarito (A.D. 1375-1600).” In Archaeology of Bandelier National Monument: Village Formation on the Pajarito Plateau, New Mexico,edited by Timothy A Kohler, 215-264. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2004.