Now that we are back at the New Jersey Shore, and far away from this beautiful place I am finally getting around to posting some of my photos from Mesa Verde.
Within the last 65 million years the Colorado Plateau & Rocky Mountains were formed by a series of uplifts raising the area now named Mesa Verde almost 8,000 feet above sea level. Ancient streams carved through the gently sloping land creating a 1,500 foot escarpment between it and the nearest La Plata Moutains.Within the last 65 million years the Colorado Plateau & Rocky Mountains were formed by a series of uplifts raising the area now named Mesa Verde almost 8,000 feet above sea level. Ancient streams carved through the gently sloping land creating a 1,500 foot escarpment between it and the nearest La Plata Moutains.
Around 600 A.D. people moved into the area and built pit houses on the top of the mesa.
They dug into the ground and built their shelter above with pole and mud roofs and walls with entrances through the roof. In the center of the main room was the fire pit where people did their cooking. A stone slab was placed in front of the fire pit to keep the air circulating - both deflecting cold air the drawing the smoke up and out.
Many "pits" have deeper dug cavities or antechambers which were uses for storage of food and firewood.
Over the next several centuries pit houses were built atop older "homes" and as the population grew due to the good farming land atop the mesa villages began to be formed with 2 room dwelling and a kiva.
Sometime during the next several hundred years, for whatever reason, the people began to move from the top of the mesa to the alcoves in the canyon walls. There they build intricate structures as exhibited by the "Square Tower House" which can be seen from an overlook
From Sun Point more than a dozen Cliff Dwelling can be seen. Between the years A.D.1200-1300 half the population of the Mesa lived here. From here also can be seen the Fire Temple, which was probably used by people from all over the Mesa for ceremonial celebrations.
Next to it is what is called the "New Fire House", an "apartment" cliff dwelling in upper and lower alcoves connected by a hand-and-toe hold trail chipped into the rock. These were strong active people with a life expectancy of only 30 some years.
Another dwelling that we were able to visit later was the "Oak Tree House."
Across the canyon could be seen the top of the Sun Temple, a large "D" shaped structure excavated in 1915 and believed to have been constructed for worship.
Though never finished, every stone in the nearly 1000 feet of finely masoned walls was carefully pecked on the surface & geometric designs were inscribed on the surface of some.
Looking through a window in the 4 foot walls, one could see some of the interior construction.