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"Reproduction of Family Dwelling"
Sombrero People, Mexico, c. 900 BCE 
1.5 m~ Adobe




















Nearly all evidence of the existence of the Sombrero People has been lost, although at one point their population peaked at about 200,000 souls. They flourished between 1,600 and 800 BCE in the region now known as the Chihuahuan Desert in northern Mexico, although Sombrero pottery has been found as far north as Albuquerque, New Mexico, indicating that they ranged quite far as traders. 

Living as they did at the edge of inhospitable desert regions, the Sombrero People developed an architectural style centered around the mutual needs of protection from the sun and water conservation. Although no complete Sombrero dwelling remains today, archaeologists have been able to piece together details of the structure from existing ruins, cave paintings, and amateur photographs taken by the inhabitants before their eventual demise in the Great Drought of 645 BCE.


The salient features can be seen in the reconstruction shown here. The rounded roof mitigated the effect of rainfall on the adobe, while the raised wall-like edging retained any water that fell, acting simultaneously as a cistern, a shallow moat and a form of air conditioning, as the water was taken up by the adobe walls and evaporated by the winds.

The single doorway was set above the waterline, facing north to minimize the rays of the summer sun and to capture the cool prevailing winds. Not visible in this view is the smaller hole at the rear of the dwelling near the roof from which the smoke of cooking fires exited. This clever design provided the inhabitants with a change of air every few minutes, despite the apparent unventilated nature of the building. It is an excellent example of architectural ingenuity in adapting to a difficult environment.


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