Saturday, June 5, 2021

Canyon of the Ancients National Monument

The Great Kiva at the Lowry Pueblo site.  The stone features on the floor were interpreted as symbols for winter people and summer people.  Within these features are four platforms for pillars to support a roof.

Saturday we tackled a small part of the Canyons of the Ancients National Monument.  It is a rather large area encompassing 170,000 acres of high desert in the southwest corner of Colorado.  It has the highest density of archeological sites in the U. S.  Thousands of archeological sites have been recorded at the Monument while thousands more are yet to be documented. 24 native tribes claim ties to the area.

We spent the morning at the Lowry Pueblo and the Canyon of the Ancients Visitor Center and Museum (Anasazi Heritage Center). The area we went to was about 45 minutes north of Cortez. 

Many of the sites in the Monument area are accessible by gravel and rough roads, followed by hiking.  As we headed first towards the Lowry Pueblo we traveled along such roads.  Speed limit 30, in a small car maybe 15-20 tops!  Pretty sure we shook the poor car to it's core and us to.  This was one of the few sites that didn't require a hike, it was right off the road.

Lowry Pueblo is a 1,000 year old Puebloan site which includes a 40 room village with 8 kivas and one Great Kiva.  It was home to between 40 and100 people at a time. It is unusual because it contained two different cultural traditions, the early Chacoan architecture and in later additions it was more characteristic of the styles found at Mesa Verde.  Lowry was designated a National Landmark in 1967 and in 2000 became part of the Canyons of the Ancients National Monument.  It was very interesting and definitely worth the trip out there.

The Lowry site 
Notice all of the Sage Brush in the foreground.

A cover has been added for preservation of the site.  The holes in the wall held logs that supported a second story.

The floor plans changed as the area grew.  The first kiva and four-room area expanded to a 40-room building in about one generation (1085 AD -1105 AD). 

Krikkit enjoyed her outing especially the attention from other visitors.  We saw more than one family that had hired a guide.

Not my best side Pat!  Personally I thought I was pretty short.  Maybe it's the weight and not the height? I did make it in and back out.😊

We were allowed to go down into this building.  By 1100 AD the eight, mostly underground, round rooms were used for indoor cooking, warmth and gatherings.  Archeologists believe that around 750 AD families moved out of these pithouses and began using rooms on the surface as their main living space. The pithouse was then thought to change to a kiva.

The Great Kiva

The steps going down into the Great Kiva.  A little narrow for my preference.

The Anasazi Heritage Center was beautiful and told the history of the area including the excavation, which continues.  It was interesting learning how new techniques in excavation made such an impact on what they learned about the early people and their lives.

Canyon of the Ancients Visitor Center and Museum, Dolores, CO

One of the 30 some flower gardens around the Heritage Center.

I'm not a bug fan (ask Pat about the bug he got woken up to kill in the middle of the night Friday) so I didn't check it out to thoroughly.

Full-sized replica of the kind of pitstructure built by the Dolores Anasazi in late 800 AD.  This was the upper floor.

The lower floor

The Dolores Archeological Project

Andrew E. Douglas, an American astronomer, discovered dendrochrology (tree-ring dating).  This is very important for dating the buildings.

Stratigraphy is the concept that most sites are layered with the oldest material at the bottom.  Soil layers, or strata, contain seeds, pottery, compacted floors, etc.  Sterile areas might indicate a time when a place wasn't inhabited.

This pithouse burned.  Burned material survives for centuries because it has nothing for insects or bacteria to eat.  Wood fragments showed tree rings dated to 867 AD.

Various artifacts excavated from the Monument area.

It was another 90° day.  Hadn't been to Cold Stone Creamery in years but it was a refreshing treat.  In case you notice the strawberry top, this store also contained a Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory. I thought a chocolate covered strawberry at least had some fruit in it!

The main level has rugs, jewelry and pottery made by American Indian artists.  The lower level is a museum with an extensive display of historic American Indian art and artifacts.  It is located in Cortez.

Mi Mexico Restaurant was right next to our RV Park.  It was highly recommended by a couple we met at the park from New York.   They were right, it was delicious!

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