Friday, April 25, 2008

Montezuma's Castle

Montezuma's Castle
Originally uploaded by bonbayel.
What a great location!

This Anasazi apartment complex in the cliff was built several centuries before Montezuma, but when it was discovered in the early 19th century, the explorers thought it was built by Montezuma's men escaping the Spaniards. According to the Verde Valley Guide, the people who built this are called "Sinagua" (without water) which seems strange, since they have a nice creek here, and there is quite a large spring-fed pool nearby dubbed "Montezuma's Well."

At any rate, they evidently moved into this area around 1125 AD, pushing out what was left of the Hohokam, who had been there since 600 AD. Originally they'd lived in huts, but they started to figure out masonry (there was probably a good supply of mud near the river.) Archeologists figure they started this cliff dwelling around 1150, and by 1300 had about 150 residents in 20 rooms in 5 stories. But then they disappeared in the early 1400's (note, before Columbus) but apparently took all their stuff with them, so they didn't just die off. An interesting puzzle. The Anasazi are the subject of a long section in Jared Diamond's book Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed

Hanne and I felt often during this trip that we were following in my parents' footsteps. We called Mom every evening and she could easily follow along on our route, because they had been there on several different trips. She also made several suggestions (like Arcosanti) for excursions.

When we were kids living in New Jersey, Dad was mechanical engineer working for Esso. We were waiting for the year he would have saved up 5 weeks of vacation, so we could do our cross-country trip to visit our cousin Sadie in Berkeley and see Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon and whatever else of interest lies between New Jersey and California. But Dad switched jobs, we moved to a new part of the world we could explore (Ohio) and we never had enough vacation after that to go that far. Instead we went on camping trips to the Laurentians in Ontario, and to the top of Michigan's lower peninsula (they were building the bridge at the time.) So I never got west until John asked me to join him in California 8 years ago. My sister Lu was a hippy in San Francisco for a while, and of course Sadie still lives in California. Since Mom was born in Santa Barbara, we also have a lot of relatives out here, but I'm just getting to know more about them now.

But Mom and Dad discovered America's early history when Dad retired and my son suggested we visit a place called America's Stonehenge in Salem, NH. Dad soon started a new career as amateur archeologist working closely with the New England Antiquities Research Association, studying America before Columbus. This got them intrigued with other early American sites. They traveled to Mexico and Central America, studying early Mayan ruins and pyramids, and went to several Elder Hostels in Arizona and New Mexico, where the theme was native archeology. And every time they visited us in Denmark after that point, they were out looking for petroglyphs and stone settings, or studying museums.

Much earlier we also had quite an influx of native American culture, because Dad's sister Betty worked for a while with Frank Lloyd Wright at Taliesin West in Scottsdale, AZ (which Hanne and I didn't have time to visit, unfortunately.) Her home was filled with Navajo artifacts: lovely baskets and bowls, woven shawls and dolls. We received Navajo gifts as well, like Kachinka dolls. Hanne and I saw things like hers in museums, but the native craft shops were selling much less artistic, more factory-like products, so we weren't tempted to buy any of that.

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