Monday, July 12, 2010

Mesa Verde

Pete can be such a slug sometimes . . . I see he's been negligent on keeping up our blog (using weak excuses such as a remodeling job on the house and arrival of his 4th grandkid, Elliot, who literally popped out into the world yesterday) So I figure it's up to me, Oscar, to take up his slack and get this on the road again . . .

Here's the wonder egg at "Baby Rock" a cool formation of red sculpted shapes . . .

Northeast of 4 Corners is the Mesa Verda National park where we got to see some of the most unique homes ever built in the US. Around 600 AD, a group of people chose this area for their home. The climate allowed them to plant crops on the tops of these mesas. Eventually, they constructed grain storage and living spaces in the sides of vertical cliffs! An amazing feat to be sure. It provided them protection from enemies and the most famous one, called Cliff Palace, even has its own source of water from a natural spring that sprouts out of the rock.

House of Many Windows

Here's a "Kiva" which is a room dug down into the earth used for religious or communal purposes. It's entered by a ladder from the roof, has a ventilation shaft with damper, fire pit, altar, raised platform, wall niche, and a hole in the floor ‑ the sipapu. To the Pueblo Indians the sipapu symbolizes the place of emergence ‑ the channel through which the living communicated with the spirits of the dead. It also represented the navel of the earth.

The rest of the photos are of the Cliff Palace. Walking among it, we could discern the improvements in design and masonry techniques. Starting with raw rocks fitted together without mortar (these were the early ones near the natural spring) to shaped bricks forming complex shapes, held firm with a long lasting mortar.

Sometime around 1200 AD, within a space of two generations, these homes were abandoned by their inhabitants for unknown reasons. Maybe the crops wouldn't grow due to severe drought or the soil was no longer fertile. Perhaps the animals they hunted all moved away. Today their descendants are spread among 24 tribes that inhabit Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, and Texas.