Monday, July 14, 2014


Remains of ancient dwellings at Bandelier

Bandelier National Monument, NM.  7/14/2014:  This is Bandelier.  People have lived here for varying lengths of time for more than 10-thousand years, carving shelter out of the towering cliffs that border Frijoles Creek, which formed Frijoles Canyon.  At first, it was a good place to hunt and move on.  Later, it became a place to grow crops and settle.   

It makes pretty good sense.  The canyon and land for four hundred square miles around was created by eruptions of a monstrous (still active) volcano that took place a million years ago.  Volcanic ash piled up in layers as much as a thousand feet thick.  It looks like sandstone cliff today, but it's a material that's easily eroded and/or carved.  Since it left swiss-cheese-like surfaces, the people moved into the holes, enlarged them and then built covering structures over the face to live securely on the cliff-side.  Meanwhile, others built the more fort-like Pueblo Tyuonyi on the valley floor.

Rooms in the Pueblo weren't large..I put my hat on the wall there to show some
scale.  The people themselves were small.  They were mostly seeking security and protection from the elements.  Most of their work took place outdoors.

And there's an important distinction to make:  These are the Ancestral Pueblo people, with links to others who lived in Mesa Verde and Chaco Canyon.  Modern researchers used to call them the Anasazi, but in the Navajo tongue that means "Ancient Enemies" so that no longer used.  But whatever you call them, their modern ancestors still live here.  Native Americans here call themselves Pueblo People.  Keep it in mind.

A visit to Bandelier can be good for you--it means walking and some climbing up the side of the cliffs because if you want to see anything--that's where it is.

You can try your own cliff-dwelling if you choose:

Inside the outside structure may have looked like this National Park Service reconstruction:

Here's one of the exposed dwellings.  Start at the floor, work up the can see some decorative effect half way up.  The ceiling is dark because of fire and smoke.  The fire hardened the roof so it didn't crumble on the inhabitants:

And decorate they did.  They are several examples of petroglyphs on the cliff walls.  This one is preserved with a plexiglas shield:

Macaws, like the one carved here, were brought as trade items from Mexico:

It's thought the people lived here in permanent settlement for abut 400 years before closing up shop and moving on.  No one knows exactly why they left, but they did..moving south and east toward the Rio Grande river..a very similar experience to that of the people who lived in Mesa Verde and Chaco.  Now, most of their descendants live in modern pueblos throughout the region; the Pueblo People. 

And here's a note right out of the Park Service's guidebook:  People have not lived in Frijoles Canyon for more than 450 years, but the site is not abandoned, according to tradition.  Modern Pueblo people believe their ancestors still inhabit the place in spirit.

Here's how it looks from the valley floor across Frijoles Creek:

Come visit the ancients at Bandelier.


I'm moving on tomorrow.  Talk to you from the Grand Canyon later this week.