Nestled within the Mesa Verde plateau in south-west Colorado at an altitude of more than 2,600 m are a great concentration of spectacular Pueblo Indian dwellings, including some the most amazing cliff dwellings. Mesa Verde, Spanish, meaning “Green Table”.
Ever since local cowboys first reported the cliff dwellings in the 1880s, archeologists have sought to understand these people’s lives. But despite decades of excavation, analysis, classification, and comparison, scientific knowledge remains sketchy. We will never know the whole story: they left no written records and much that was important in their lives has perished. Yet for all their silence, these structures speak with a certain eloquence. They tell of a people adept at building, artistic in their crafts, and skillful at making a living from a difficult land. Noone really knows the reason why they built into the cliff face. Maybe it was because of an unknown threat, rival tribes, or maybe it was to escape the heat of the day and bitter cold at night. During rains the water would cascade down the cliff faces where it would be collected and stored. There are also rooms set aside as storage of food,
After a short walk down a sketchy path, you climb an old wooden ladder resembling something the Ancestral Puebloan people would have used centuries ago, you come across the start of what you know will become a treasured experience, if not a step back in time.
At this point the guide informs everyone that they must not place their hands anywhere except the railings, as the acid from your skin (yes apparently theres acid on your skin) will transfer onto the stone, and given the amount of visitors Mesa Verde has, the acid will eventually change the rock, smoothing it and eventually wearing it out.
Soo you fins yourself crawling through a small tunnel into a dark room. Its cool, quiet and eventually opens up into a village. Everyones quiet, no doubt in awe at what they’re seeing. You can’t help but think “How the hell did they do this ?”.
The guide takes us to these deep circular pit room. Known as a “Kiva”. A Kiva a Hopi word for “ceremonial room”, is a large ceremonial chamber that was probably used for rituals of healing, praying for rain, health crops etc, or maybe used as a gathering place to weave.
Pilasters supported a beam and mud roof. The entry was on a ladder through the centre of the roof and there is a small hole on the floor known as a “Sipapu” a symbolic entrance to the underworld.