Sunday, May 12, 2013
While Tiger and I were exploring Arizona, we discovered a lot about early people who lived here. The Native Americans who constructed this amazing building lived here over 600 years ago. We don't know what they called themselves, but the first Spanish explorers called their descendants "Sinagua," which means "without water."
They built their homes into cliffs, using caves in the rock and then building with rock and mud to create rooms and walls. This particular structure was later named Montezuma
Castle -- after a South American Aztec chief.
This is a nearby complex that hasn't survived as well. The Indians abandoned this site around the year 1400 -- before Columbus, before the Spanish explorers. We don't know why.
Naming the natives Sinagua seems silly. The Indians were very smart -- they built their homes near water. This is the stream that flows through the bottom of the canyon. Life must have been very difficult. Their houses were high in the cliffs and hard to reach. Why do you think they built them there?
We saw more Native American settlement around this beautiful and mysterious pool, called Montezuma Well. It is mysterious because no one knows how deep it is. It has a strange false bottom of swirling sand and when scientists try to push measuring instruments into it, the water pressure pushes them out.
Can you see the houses built just under the edge of the cliff?
This is me, Emily, sitting on a wall over Walnut Canyon. The Indian houses here are even harder to see -- and harder to get to.
Look very carefully for large holes -- these were once Indian homes. The model below shows how the Indians got up and down the cliffs. They grew food on the top of the cliffs, lived in the cliffs and had to carry water up from the bottom of the canyon. Aren't you glad we don't have to do that? See you soon.
Emily and Tiger