Thursday, May 29, 2014

Road Trip ~ Cliff Dwellings

The Manitou Cliff Dwellings was the first of our Summer Road Trips. 

The Manitou Cliff Dwellings are located west of Colorado Springs, Colorado. They are not indigenous to the area, but rather were moved there in the early 1900s by Virginia McClurg. 

Before 1906, there were no laws protecting Native American sites or artifacts. Looters and vandals would destroy ruins and mounds looking for artifacts to sell. Virginia wanted to preserve a small piece of Anasazi history from this fate. So, Virginia acquired the rights to a large 40 room ruin located in the Mesa Verde area of Colorado and had it shipped to its current location. The process of mapping the ruin, dis-assembly and re-assembly took 3 years. 

Unlike most other Native American historic sites, the public is allowed to wander throughout the Cliff Dwellings. When the ruins were reconstructed, concrete was used to hold the stones together instead of the adobe clay mortar that was used by the original builders. Walking between the rooms and climbing the ladders, one can almost feel the presence of the families that lived within these walls a 1000 years ago.

Many unique architectural features can be seen. The top photo shows what the underside of an upper story floor would have looked like. The balcony floor shown in a prior photo was made the same way.
And the window 'lattice' would keep kids in and critters out. Well, big critters anyway.

The stonework and engineering that it took to construct these amazing dwellings so many decades ago astounds visitors to this day. While the rooms may have been small, the views were large.

The top photo is of the Kiva. A kiva was the ceremonial center of the village.
The next photo is of a mano and metate - a stone implement which was used to grind corn into corn meal.

When the ruins were reconstructed, pieces of broken pottery were incorporated into the cement. The correct term for these pottery pieces is potsherd.


Aine O'Brien said...

Wow, this is amazing! I'd love to spent some time there. Thanks for sharing. I'm a fan of your road trips.

the dogs' mother said...

Amazing dedication to move those!