Petrified wood is the fossilized remains of trees and other vegetation where the organic materials have been completely replaced with minerals such as silica and quartz. Unlike other types of fossils which are typically impressions or compressions, petrified wood is a three-dimensional representation of the original plant made of hard rock. Petrified trees have been found all over the world, but are particularly abundant in many places in the United States. The Petrified Forest National Park, in Navajo County, Arizona, is one such place.
The Agate House is a partially restored Indian pueblo built almost entirely of petrified wood and sealed with mud located in Petrified Forest National. It’s believed to have been built by the ancestors of the modern Pueblo people between the year 900 and 1200. These ancient people used petrified wood for a variety of purposes including tools such as projectile points, knives, and scrapers. The Agate House is the only surviving example of petrified wood being used as a building material.
The Agate House consist of eight rooms. The size of the structure and time necessary to build and maintain it indicates that this was not a temporary residence or field house, but more likely a year-round residential structure for a family unit. Others have suggested that this structure served solely ceremonial purposes and did not serve as the residence for a family group. Like most structures from this time period it likely remained in use for less than a generation or thirty years.
The ruins of the Agate House were reconstructed in 1933. Although there doubt remain about the accuracy of this reconstruction, it still enables us to envision the daily lives of the ancestral Puebloans.
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