Jul 182013

Aztec ruins in New Mexico?  Were the Aztec ruins really built by the Aztecs?  No, the Aztec ruins in northern New Mexico were built by the Ancestral Puebloan people, but early settlers thought they must be Aztec buildings and the name stuck.

Courtney Miller at Aztec Ruins National Monument

Courtney Miller at Aztec Ruins National Monument

This week I want to share my recent visit to Aztec Ruins National Monument with you.  It is an amazing archaeological site, a friendly and easily accessible National Monument, and an important historical landmark with a wonderful story.  Aztec Ruins National Monument is located on Ruins Road about ½ mile north of New Mexico Highway 516, in the City of Aztec, New Mexico near Farmington and Durango, Colorado.

Jul 042013

This week’s article can be viewed as a video [click here]

Casa Rinconada

Casa Rinconada

The mystery to me is, “Why here?”  Casa Rinconado is the largest and most elaborate great kiva built by the Chacoan Culture.  The other great kivas comparable to Casa Rinconada are in Great House plazas, but not this one.  This Great Kiva was constructed across Chaco Wash; across the canyon valley from the major great houses amongst smaller, poorly constructed villages probably occupied by plebeian workers and farmers.  And yet its size, beauty and accommodations were fit for royalty.

It was constructed atop a natural hillside and the imposing architecture of this great kiva dominated the view from the smaller villages and the valley.  A segment of Chacoan road connected Casa Rinconada to Pueblo Bonito.  So, was it built for the poor villagers or did the ellite cross regally on the grand road across the creek to attend glorious ceremonies?

Jun 272013
Chetro Ketl original colonnades are filled in

Chetro Ketl
original colonnades are filled in

Mayans in New Mexico? In the Chaco Culture National Historical Park there is a Great House built by the ancestral Puebloan culture that is a glaring example of the influence of the Mayan culture. If you look closely at the front wall facing the plaza at Chetro Ketl, you can see that it “was originally built as a row of masonry columns which once held horizontal timbers to support a roof over an open cloister-like porch.” This quote is from the guide book provided by the NHP. It goes on to say, “Sometime later the spaces between the columns were filled with masonry to completely close the passageway.” And later the area was divided further into smaller rooms.

Oct 252012
Great Kiva – Pueblo Bonito
“It is not hard to imagine one of these ancient villages—the adults going about their tasks, the children playing or learning at their side.  We can almost smell the rabbit stew cooking in the earthen pot and the aroma of corn roasting over the coals of the cookfire;  we can almost see the freshmade paper-thin piki bread—all this in anticipation of the day’s-endmeal after the men have returned from attending to the fields or building a new village structure.” – Kendrick Frazier, “People of Chaco”.

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