The Zians participated in the 1680 Pueblo Revolt against the Spanish. They suffered a bloody military defeat by Spanish forces in 1687: Six hundred were killed, and many were held captive for ten years. In 1689 the Zians received a royal land grant from Spain. In 1692 they accepted mass baptism and collaborated with the Spanish in their campaigns against other pueblos throughout the rest of the decade.
In the sixteenth century, the Zia Pueblo featured two- to three-story, apartment-style dwellings arranged around eight plazas. The buildings were constructed of adobe (earth-and-straw) bricks, with beams across the roof that were covered with poles, brush, and plaster. Floors were of wood plank or packed earth. The roof of one level served as the floor of another. The levels were interconnected by ladders. As an aid to defense, the traditional design included no doors or windows; entry was through the roof. Two pithouses, or kivas, served as ceremonial chambers and clubhouses. The village plaza, around which all dwellings were clustered, was the spiritual center of the village where all the balanced forces of the world came together.