By Levi Clancy for Student Reader on
Kivas were used by most of the Anasazi branches from Pueblo III times onward. Kivas were round, or less commonly square, subterranean ceremonial rooms that also served as men's club rooms. Kivas often had a ventilator a fire pit in front of the ventilator, and a deflector in between these two. It was common for kivas to have a small hole in the floor in line with the fire pit and ventilator. Known as the sipapu, this was the place of emergence of man from the underworld in the Pueblo creation myth. Kivas also usually had an interior bench around the perimeter of the chamber and four to eight masonry columns or pilasters, which supported the timbers of the cribbed roof. Entrance to the kiva was gained by a ladder through a hole in the center of the roof. This opening also served as a smoke escape. Kivas had no windows or doors and were quite dark without a fire for light. Oppelt 1981, p 12
A Great Kiva was a very large ceremonial structure, from 11 meters (Chetro Kettle III) to 27 meters (Ackmen) in diameter, and an average diameter of 16 meters. The are all circular with a bench, but otherwise are highly variable: Stone or timber roof supports, usually four in number (89.5%); raised fire boxes (63.2%); two floor vaults (57.9%); a north antechamber (47.4%); a double bench (36.9%); wall crypts (31.6%); a fire screen (26.3%); and a sipapu (15.8%). Nineteen Great Kivas have been excavated, the earliest being in the Basketmaker III era, but most being from the Pueblo III era. They have been found in Chaco, Mesa Verde and Kayenta areas, with the highest concentration in Chacho Canyon. They have been found far to the north at Lowry Ruin; to the south at Village of the Great Kivas near Zuni; to the west at Juniper Cove; and none further east than Chaco Canyon. The only Great Kiva that has been fully restored is at Aztec Ruin; partial restorations are at Lowry Ruin, Casa Rinconada, Pueblo Bonito, Chetro Kettl and Fire Temple.