An island in the sky-Mesa Verde -the green table.
The sites of Mesa Verde are set high in the southern Colorado mountains.
A green and flat 8000 foot high mesa cut by numerous canyons houses some 600 cliff dwellings and thousands of archeological sites.
The park is huge and the many locations are spread out across thousands of acres with much driving between sites. The constant question is why these ancients come all the way up here to this relatively inhospitable area ?
CLIFF PALACE-the the largest site and is out on Chapin Mesa. The mesa is cut with parallel canyons which open out toward the south.
Below-Artist impression of how it may have looked in its time.
Below the kiva with a smoke deflector. This would have had a sturdy roof on it originally and been used as another flat surface for those above.
Below– One is instructed by the rangers not to touch anything including the stonework itself as the oil on ones hands will discolor the stone over time as you see in this photo below.
BALCONY HOUSE- is also on Chapin Mesa.
Access to these places is perilous.
LONG HOUSE –is out on Weatherill Mesa and a 12 mile 45 minute drive along switchbacks with narrow winding roads with spectacular vistas out to the edge of a canyon looking south.
Below-Where the sandstone meets a layer of shale the ground water collects in seeps which is one reason why these locations were chosen.
Below– This park has more lightning strikes than anywhere else in the Park system. The dead trees on the mesas bear witness to this fact. These high hills attract storms with rain which is why even in September these were green.
AZTEC NATIONAL MONUMENT in New Mexico and has nothing to do with “Aztecs” whatsoever. It was simply misnamed by early settlers to these ruins. The actual construction was by the Ancestral Puebloans who settled the Rio Grande valley many thousand of years ago and who still live there today.
Below-ducking through doorways which are only some five foot high one goes through room after room along the sides of very long buildings.
The first people were nomadic hunters and at some point they settled and started building with stone creating villages hence the Spanish called them The Puebloans. This is 900 year old masonry.
Photo above courtesy wikipedia
Above many kivas ! Below-the giant kiva
Below- a reconstruction of what one of these kivas would have looked like.
See also the Taos Pueblo posting No 7 where this building reached it’s apex with multi storied dwellings.
Below these mysterious images are from the rock faces of the southwest.