Sunset in the Coconino National Forest, looking northeast toward Sedona, AZ, 4/17/15

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Ancestral Puebloans, May 9-11

Since the Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument has been one of my favorites, I shouldn't have been surprised that I would also enjoy experiencing similar sites.  I visited Hovenweep National Monument, a set of ancient villages within neighboring canyons.  Then I went to Mesa Verde National Park, with some of the best preserved cliff dwellings.  Then I visited, somewhat on the spur of the moment, the Chaco Culture National Historic Park, the cultural and spiritual center for Ancestral Puebloans.  The first picture is of one of the villages built into the canyon rocks at Hovenweep. 

Each of these sites were vital centers of activity during the 900-1200's for the Ancestral Puebloans (Anasazi).  I could imagine and feel the life that existed there -- the bringing together of families, farming, building shelters, food preparation, building villages, spiritual rituals, the building of places of ceremony, developing trade, creating art.   I could almost hear children playing, men building, and the activities of home life.   The second picture is of Spruce Tree House at Mesa Verde; notice how the adobe "plaster" is still on the sides of the walls.  This picture shows only a small part of a larger set of rooms built into a natural cave.

While visiting Chaco Canyon, I took a tour of Pueblo Bonito with a Ranger.  The group was fortunate to be joined by several young men from the Acoma Pueblo, the longest continually inhabited community in the United States, and direct descendants of the Ancestral Puebloans of Chaco Canyon.  They were there to do trail maintenance.  I loved hearing the respect these men had for Chaco Canyon, the emphasis they placed on prayer, and the foundation of their spirituality being Mother Earth.  I'm so glad that they shared what they did.  The third picture is looking through the doors of a series of rooms at Pueblo Bonito.  Notice the excellent stonework.  A bit of the adobe "plaster" still clings to the wall at the right.

Because Chaco Canyon was the cultural and spiritual center for the Ancestral Puebloans, great emphasis was placed on excellent craftsmanship.  The stonework was exceptional.

My favorite part of Mesa Verde was learning about the pithouses on the top of the mesas, before they invented the stone and adobe structures.  They were very clever in heating and venting the pithomes. The forth picture is of an excavated pithouse, walls and a roof of wood and adobe would have covered the dug out pit.  The fifth picture is an illustration.

For Hovenweep, I enjoyed imagining the villages in their prime ... "watching" villagers travel from place to place, climbing in and out of the canyons, grinding corn, and the ins and outs of daily life.

originally posted 5/21/10

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