Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Mesa Verde Cliff Dwellings - Cliff Palace

Mesa Verde National Park allows us to visit a former, thriving civilization that flourished several hundred years ago. They built amazing houses and even cities in the cliffs of this canyon and mesa at about 7,000' in elevation. 

One of the first visitation locations is at Cliff Palace -- which is a real palace built into the cliffs. We had a great viewing location on the canyon directly across from the palace as Orinda found. Even with her vision issues, she could use her binoculars to at least parts of the cliff dwelling.

This is a huge collection of structures with over 150 rooms. It is thought that well over 100 people lived here and were well protected from the weather as well as possible attackers. Built from about 1190 ad to 1300 ad, it was suddenly abandoned; perhaps due to crop failure or due to some other influence. 

 It is possible to take a tour of the ruins, but Orinda was not thrilled with the idea of walking near the edge of the cliffs and climbing ladders. Apparently the builders of the cliff dwellings were not afraid of heights.

 The circular structures are called kivas and appeared to have been used for ceremonial functions. This palace contained 23 such kivas, each built with carefully fit stones forming a virtually perfect circle. When we thought about the fact that each stone had to be carried up the walls to this site, it is very impressive.

 We were especially interested in the fine craftsmanship in building the walls and buildings.This must have been a huge effort in construction,while at the same time, making sure that everyone had food and defense.

This shot gives an idea as to the size of the dwellings when you compare the structures to the people touring the site. These buildings are huge and must have taken a terrific effort to build without benefit of power equipment of even horses. It is fun to consider how they lived and built these dwellings and then to think how future generations might look at the remains of one of our cities and wonder how we lived. We will continue our Mesa Verde visit in our next post.

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