Diary/Photo Journal

Week of September 07, 2003

New Mexico is a wealth of Native American (IE: Pueblo people) history and ruins.  It is very easy to spend many days exploring the architecture left behind by the natives that thrived in the New Mexico/Colorado area from 800 A.D. through 1250 A.D.  The Puebloan cultures created organized villages, communal "Great Houses", refuse areas, sewer systems,  ceremonial rooms, etc.  So much for the thought of them being uncivilized! 

We first explored Bandelier National Monument.  This archeological treasure is made up of cave homes that were hand excavated by the Pueblo people sometime in the 800's.  These caves were interconnected and overlooked a stream and surrounding forest.  They climbed up and into their homes by use toeholds and footholds they created in the sandstone.  They also built structures up against the rock walls, two and three stories high as well as constructing "field" homes out of stone.

Gerson climbing
down ladder
from cliff homes
Louise in typical
cave/cliff home

Typical structures built
onto wall.  Holes were
dug into wall and wooden
poles were inserted as a
brace for the roof of the
structure - see the structure
imprint still visible on the
the white
and white
feet - so


their main

Our next ruin was Chaco Culture National Historical Park.  These ruins were similar to Bandelier as the structures were built around the same time and by the Puebloan people that were influenced by similar architectural techniques.  The only difference was the Chaco location did not have a soft sandstone to dig caves, but they had an abundance of shale that they could chip and cut for masonry buildings. 

The Chacoan created a culture that was unlike its neighbors.  Its monumental scale of its architecture, the complexity of its community life, the high level of its social organization, its far-reaching commerce, its extensive road system - all have been evidenced by the ruins and the artifacts found.


Building scars
left on wall -
see pole insert
holes for roofs
Round building
is the Kiva or
ceremonial room

Enduring construction
see wood poles for
headers and see
retaining wall for
village raised 12'
above desert floor

Fortunately, Chaco was worth the horrendous 16 mile "graded" dirt road that took 1 1/2 hours to cross...yes, that is an average of 10 mph and we still felt as though we were shaking apart at the seams.



Pueblo Bonito
Conceptual drawing and ruins
Main area is call the "Plaza"
Great Houses were oriented to
solar, lunar, and cardinal
directions and "planned"

Ok, last ruins.  As my father advisedly said to me "you will get ruined on ruins" and he was correct.  We visited Mesa Verde National Park in Southwestern Colorado as the final ruin stop.  These ruins are a combination of the previous two in that they are structures built within natural alcoves and caves .   When you see the pictures, you should see the similarities.

Mesa Verde
Spruce Tree
Notice round
rooms in ground - Kivas
This site has 200 rooms

Other homes
tucked into the
stone wall


These rooms go
back over 60'
Wall as it was originally
left, loose stones on top
1200+ years ago

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