Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Mesa Verde and The Ancient Ones

The National Parks #2

"Cliff Palace"
(click on photo for a larger view)

The Cliff Palace at Mesa Verde National Park

I feel a strong affinity with Native cultures and ancient peoples and there is pure magic in the lands where they lived and worked, laughed and cried, hunted, cooked, tended children and created art, for so many thousands of years. To walk through their homes, sit quietly in their places of worship, gaze upon their rock paintings, and hike their trails, fosters a deep sense of connection to these people, to the earth, to time itself. . .

One such magical place is  Mesa Verde National Park. The ancient homes of a vanished people are located there as well as at Chaco Culture National Historical Park, and other sites throughout the Southwest. These cliff dwellings, nestled deep into the canyon walls, far below the mesa tops, are hidden from view and difficult to get to.

About 1,400 years ago, from 550 A.D. to 1300 A.D., ancestral Puebloans (sometimes known as Anasazi, or "Ancient Ones") inhabited the area's mesas. However, it wasn't until the last 100 years or so of this occupation that they constructed elaborate structures below the mesa tops. And, toward the late 1200s, they disappeared from the place altogether.

What happened to them? What forced them to build their homes into the side of steep cliffs to begin with? These are mysteries that archeologists have yet to solve. But you can still learn a great deal about the culture of these people at Mesa Verde, Chaco Canyon and other archaeological sites in the Southwest.

I found this video on YouTube and thought it was interesting and fairly well done:

Related posts:

The National Parks: America's Best Idea


bobbie said...

No written language - and yet they were skilled and clever enough to construct such things as this! Absolutely amazing!

Mountain Photog said...

It is amazing, isn't it?! I can't imagine what life must have been like for them. Climbing down to those cliff dwellings is no easy feat.

Villas Girl said...

Hi Lisa! This is amazing. I would love to see this in person. Of course I will have to conquer my fear of heights first.
Some angles make the village look small. Other angles, very large. Truly amazing how this was built in and on the side of a cliff. Lisa

Mountain Photog said...

Hi back, Lisa!

You do have to climb down some steep ladders to see Cliff Palace (it really is quite large) but I think you can access another dwelling, Spruce Tree House, via a walkway.

If you do visit, you should plan to make a few side trips to some of the lesser known archaeological sites. Because they are less crowded they are much more spiritual.

Linda said...

Long, long ago my parents took us on a vacation to Mesa Verde and I thought it was absolutely amazing even at the young age of 12. One of the main things I remember is my mother holding tightly to the door handle of the car when we were making the drive up there while trying not to look at the sheer drop off on her side of the car and wondering how it was that anyone built their homes that far up on a mountain - never mind in the side of a cliff. You're right, though, the ruins are magical and I was fortunate enough to go at a time when they weren't crowded with tourists all over the place. I'm afraid if I were to go back now, I'd be really disappointed in how touristy they've become.

Mountain Photog said...

How wonderful that you were able to go there as a child, Linda! It is a bit of a ride up to the mesa top. I'm so used to driving in the mountains that I didn't notice that much. LOL!

We went in October when there weren't many people so it was quite nice. I hear it's packed during the summer months, which would definitely take away from the charm. I bet it's beautiful in the winter though!

becky said...

Hi Lisa,
I'm back for another look! I love the "link within" feature! I was here last September... what an amazing place. Have also been to Chaco Canyon & Bandolier... I want to take my mom to these places someday. There is a great video on these places, narrated by Robert Redford...I think it's called "In search of the Ancient Ones" or something like that. I think you'd enjoy it if you haven't already seen it!

Lisa (Mountain Photog) said...

Hi Becky! Welcome back! :)

I've never been to Chaco or Bandolier but we did stay at Kelly Place in Cortez that had ruins right on site. The whole area is amazing--and very spiritual. I'm not sure I've seen "In Search of the Ancient Ones." I'll have to look it up. I have "Mystery of Chaco Canyon," though, which is also narrated by Redford.

I got the Link Within app from Krista's blog. It is a nice feature, isn't it?

becky said...

Aye~ Lisa, I was looking at your new post & clicked on this one again! Well, I love the ruins ~and apparently I have short term memory deficits! Speaking of which, yes, I was mixing up my documentaries! I was thinking of "the mystery of chaco," narr by RR... the other one is called "In search of the Old Ones'" both in book & DVD format.

On that linked within~ I use it on mine too. It's a fun way to click on random things/post that have been missed!

Lisa (Mountain Photog) said...

LOL Becky! There must be some mysterious force drawing you to this photo. ;) I'd love to get down there again soon! Too bad it's a 10 hour drive. In the meantime, I'll order the DVD you mentioned. :)

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