Am I Reincarnated From an Ancestral Puebloan?

On one of our other days in Northern New Mexico, we left Santa Fe with our friends and traveled about an hour to Bandelier National Monument, which is just outside of the town of Los Alamos.

Bandelier sits in the Frijoles Canyon and is the site of cliff dwellings from ancestral pueblo peoples that lived in the area for about 400 years – from about 1150 AD to 1550 AD.  It is known that they moved down to the Rio Grande valley because of a prolonged drought that made living in the high, desert plateaus untenable.

The drive is beautiful and the canyon is breathtaking.   The park has several places where the remnants of puebloan society can be seen.  There is a large semi-circular construct that at one time was a large, multi-level communal site.  It enclosed a natural amphitheater that was sort of the crossroads for the whole group.

We ran into a ranger (who have the best jobs ever) who described the agriculture of the Indians that lived there.  They made connected, slightly raised beds – that were known as waffles, in which they grew corn and other crops.  We also found out that in addition to Waffle Farming, they were also Turkey Herders – and anyone that knows me, knows how serious I am about my turkey.  Also, the emblem for the park consists of a pair of “talking turkeys” and a sun petroglyph.

Speaking of petroglyphs, you can hike a trail up to where there are a number of cliff dwelling remains that have a number of inscriptions in the stone.

There are even a couple that you can climb up into.  My friend Dave (and old college roommate) figured out that the cliff dwelling rooms were about the size of our old college dorm.

If you’re in good cardiac health and not afraid of heights or ladders, you can even climb to the highest large dwelling, the Alcove House – which was several hundred feet above the canyon floor.  You could access it by climbing several ladders – some of which were quite long.  The top contained a large open area and ceremonial kiva.

It was really fun for me to go, since I had never been to Bandelier even though we’d spent a lot of time in New Mexico.  It was always one of those places that we “really ought to go to” – too close to plan a big excursion, too far away to “stop by”.  It was really a great day – and made me hungry for turkey.

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20 thoughts on “Am I Reincarnated From an Ancestral Puebloan?

  1. Whoa, climb that at your own risk! That is scary but probably worth it. Great photos once again.
    You must have had a blast – the petroglyphs alone look worth the price of admission. I'd be tempted to stay overnight, I bet the place has some serious energy to it.
    Were there any explainations about what the engravings say?

  2. Wow, you make me want to visit! Anyone who lived day in and day out in the Alcove House must have been extremely fit :S Rangers do have really fun jobs. Must be nice to spend so much of the day outdoors, doing what you love (harassed corporate-lawyer-speak, yes).

  3. Cool. I'm surprised that they allow you to climb up into those… kind of heartwarming, really, that they didn't shut it down for fear of lawsuits or something.

  4. You have convinced me that I need to tag along next time Steve has business in that part of the country! Although, I'm not quite sure I'd be brave enough to climb the stairs. I'm in good shape, but quite afraid of heights in situations like that.

  5. Great photos Steve. Bill & I visited Mesa Verde National Park a few years ago. We enjoyed the cliff dwellings there of the Pueble Indians and were amazed at how high up some of the houses were!

  6. Emmi — no one's 100% sure, but the best guess is that the young boys, upon reaching adulthood were allowed to carve a symbol. Imagine that — teenage boys graffiti-ing the walls!

  7. LC — yes, I'd love to be a ranger I think — though I know they also have to deal with the down-side of the public too — a lot of bad behavior and stupidity I'm sure.

  8. jacolily — the really sad thing is that growing up on the east coast, we rarely were taught much of the history of the West prior to Lewis and Clark. I hardly knew they were here until I was an adult.

  9. Amy Sue — yes, we went to Mesa Verde too several years ago (long enough ago that it was pre-blog!) — we really enjoyed it. We'd wanted to go to Chaco Canyon too, but it's just so hard to get to.

  10. Oh, how lovely! I can just imagine how breathtaking it must have been when the civilization was alive and active in that area. This reminds me of Josh Bernstein's travels on Digging For The Truth and Into The Unknown.

  11. Wow, I just went back and read your series of posts about your trip. Amazing pictures! So now northern NM is on my list of places to visit.
    Very cute pic of you & the Beloved too. :) Frameworthy, I think.

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