Saturday, March 28 — I had a fabulous Friday with my girlfriends doing “city things” in Santa Fe like shopping, enjoying an al fresco lunch, indulging in some day drinking (wine and margaritas) because we were all together and we could, shopping some more, strolling in the lovely sunny weather, and celebrating both Fred’s and Suzanne’s birthdays with a delicious Spanish dinner at the elegant eatery, El Meson. But on Saturday we left behind our cute clothes, donned our outdoor garb, and headed out into the countryside. After a beautiful drive taking us north and west of Santa Fe, we arrived at Bandelier National Monument.
Bandelier is an archeological site similar to others nearby that all preserve the Pueblo culture. Ancient Pueblo people have lived in the Southwest for many centuries, and while the groups were varied, they all shared some basic traits. They were farmers (maize, beans and squash) who supplemented their diet with native plants and by hunting deer, rabbits, other mammals, and birds. They cultivated cotton and wove it into garments and blankets. They fashioned tools from stone, bone, and wood. They made pottery, remnants which have been found and pieced together showing their beautifully intricate designs. Through extensive trade networks they acquired other goods such as shells, turquoise, and parrots (??).
Such was the life of the Pueblo hunter – gatherer civilization from 1100-1550 A.D. While no written records existed before the Spanish arrived, the rich oral traditions of these ancestral Pueblo people tie them to this land.
While more than 3,000 Pueblo sites have been found scattered in this region, not all were inhabited at the same time. Settlements were generally small and scattered, but then as the Pueblo population grew, people began coming together in larger groups. By the mid-1200s, villages often included as many as 40 rooms. The next 250 years saw fewer and larger villages – up to 600 rooms – which is evidenced here in the village of Tyuonyi (QU-weh-nee) in the Frijoles Canyon. Part of what’s left of their civilization shows these multiple-story dwellings on the canyon floor which included personal quarters, storage rooms, and kivas (ceremonial rooms), as the artist rendering to the right shows. These ancient Pueblo people also carved caves in the soft volcanic tuff of the canyons, as shown in the slide show, below, and lived in these cave houses – they were very cool, if not a little claustrophobic!
We all thoroughly enjoyed our day of hiking, being in nature, traveling back in time, and experiencing the history of this unique Pueblo culture. Places like this are good reminders that we were not the first people to live here….
Hover your cursor over the photo, below, then use the arrows to scroll through some photos of our group hike at Bandolier National Monument: