The cliff-dwelling ancestral Pueblo people of Mesa Verde National Park Colorado. Apart from the overall peoples of the southwest United States the spread out, and technological and anthropological similarities of this culture provide us an opportunity to better understand how people have adapted to major client change in the past. One should not discount the questions as to why these people lived the way they did, and what past situations happened to them that impacted them to set up and to live in a certain way. We see them living within the cliffside of Bandelier National Monument, and having a fortified canyon defense inside the Canyons of the Ancient. Then there is Hovenweep where the water source seems to enter a canyon where it might pool, and is overlooked by watchtowers, and what might be considered a castle. But Mesa Verde take things to a how another level where these peoples lived in higher elevation, and managed to build, with stone, bricks, and carving into the large gaps of these high elevational cliffs. This article is not about answering these questions but providing you with the observations and photography needed for your own investigation or curiosity.
Estimated reading time: 9 minutes
Table of contents
Living Within The Steep Cliffs
I think this photograph helps to show you the environment the ancient Pueblo lived in. The area may have had more water back then but the overall conditions would have been similar. With juniper trees, steep rock cliffs, and dangerous trails they walked alongside the cliffside. The danger of nature itself, and the possibility of rockslides or just falling on the edge of a narrow walkway.
The Square Tower of Mesa Verde
This tower is somewhat hidden, and its location is also interesting. For people to go to such trouble to build in such a difficult location the way they did you do have to wonder why. I do see these types of defensive buildings to be defensive in nature, and there must have been a threat they were trying to protect themselves from.
When you look at the buildings you see a multi-level structure and may have housed families or warriors for guard duty. I think research on this could shed some light, and help change the perception of the ancient Pueblo people.
The Pit Houses of Mesa Verde
These pit houses do show how these people lived in the aerier days. They did continually build upon each other, and make improvements over time.
Storage and heating seemed to be a priority for survival in this high altitude, and both would also be needed to keep water, cook, and be prepared for changes in their food supply.
As you walk around the area you do see an area that is much more expanded than what you see at first. As you walk around you see many sites that have not been explored or may have been backfilled to preserve them for the future.
Top Mesa Site
Once you get to this area things begin to get really interesting. These photographs, and so perfect looking they look almost fake taken from a model in a museum. However these are real and show how detailed the different high altitude cliff dwelling structures, or cities look.
When you look from afar you see how difficult it was to build these sites, and the amount of time it took would have been over many years.
The Sun Temple
As you walk the site you notice how the area was prepared for ceremonies, larger groups of people visiting the site for religious purposes.
With the halls having specific alignments they would have also been using it to follow the seasons and the movement of the sun. The sun was a major religious event, and solar events would have been watched from this location and may have had a significant religious impact of the culture over the years.
Wide enough for people to walk through one could assume priests and tribal leaders walks these halls. This place was significant and would have been difficult to abandon when the time came. In my opinion, only a major climate change event could have made this happen. The location was isolated and would have been easy to have lookout guards making it a difficult location to attack if coming from the outside. It basically just looks abandoned, and that is the basic conscientious from academia as well.
In conclusion, the photography of this site was just stunning, and so much so I want to 100% guarantee these are our photos, and they have not been doctored in any way. A few of them look like a perfect museum model to me and that is not the case. Even though there are some restrictions going inside the buildings, and around park personnel the park is 100% open. A few roads are closed for road repair but you can still view the site impacted from other lookout points. Keep in mind that this is a busy park, and still gets thousands of visitors, and if you are wanted to avoid people this would not be the park for you. We highly recommend this park and recommend making camping reservations ahead of time to ensure you have a good spot to rest. So next time you think you will be in the area make sure to check out the Mesa Verde National Park, sometimes known as Mesa Verde Colorado.
You can also find additional information from the National Park Service here.