The first archeological site that we chose to visit was the Spruce Tree House. Just to give you an idea of the scope of the Mesa Verde archeological sites, this house represents about 1% of what is left to visit. We would be staying about 2 weeks.
The Spruce Tree house site was constructed between A.D. 1200 and 1276. It was inhabited by the Anasazi people. The Ranger told us that it is thought that it has been home for about 100 people.
The tan cliffs are composed of sandstone. This porous rock allows rain, snow and running water to slowly seep down through it. Beneath this sandstone is a layer of shale through which the moisture cannot penetrate. As a result the water reaches the shale, flows between the two layers and emerges in the form of a spring.
The pictures below will provide you with an overview of the rooms and kivas. A kiva was a ceremonial chamber. This pueblo was built into a natural cave measuring 216 feet (66 meters) at greatest width and 89 feet (27 meters) at its greatest depth.
The picture below is the first courtyard of this village. The low wall in front sets the area apart from the refuse dump which underlies the surface on which you are standing.
In the picture below you can notice the original wooden supports of a balcony.
Entrance to the rooms was gained through the rectangular T-shaped doorways.
A kiva is still used by Pueblo people who are the descendants of the Anasazi. In modern Pueblos as well as in the past a kiva is used as a ceremonial chamber to ensure favorable growing weather, curing illness, successful hunts and harvests and so on. When no ceremonies are taking place, the kiva is used as a work area and as a social gathering place.
Here Philippe and Sabrina are trying the mano (a hand stone) to grind corn, nuts, berries and roots on a metate which is a large flat stone. As they ground the food, the soft sandstone grit was also mixed with the food. I am sure that my dentist Dr. Gile will not be impressed of this abrasive mixture that ground down the teeth!
The Anasazi then migrated to the South during the late 13th and early 14th centuries. Today the descendants of these people – the Hopi and others Pueblo dwellers – live in northern New Mexico and Arizona. Utes, Navajos and Apaches now occupy much of their domain.
In the picture below if you look closely you will be able to see a white print of an hand.