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Thursday, April 7, 2011

Bandelier Nat'l Monument

April 06

Excavated walls of the great Pueblo
Another beautiful morning seems to be underway. Today we will explore the Frijoles Canyon. With the Visitor Center opening at 9am we have lots of time for our morning rituals, like f.ex. going with Molly.

Caves in a row
Shortly after 9am we are standing in front of the counter at the Visitor Center. Bea buys a trail guide for a Dollar and after first viewing the new film about the park on a big-size screen we are marching along the bottom of the canyon. Soon we see, high on the cliffs, the first caves. Matter of fact, the entire cliff wall seem to be one cave besides the other. It resembles a swiss cheese!! The first big site we stop at are the excavations of an ancient pueblo building. It sits right on the flat bottom of the canyon. People were not confined to the Frijoles Canyon. The walls of this pueblo belong to the village of TYUONYI.. (QU-weh-nee) This grand pueblo was 1-2 stories high and contained about 400 rooms for approx. 100 people. A central plaza contained 3 Kivas (KEE-vah) which were an important part of the ceremonial cycle and culture. As a community center it served not only for religious activities, but also for education and decision-making. Unlike in our secular world, there was no separation of church and state in Ancestral Pueblo culture. Religious beliefs were a thread woven throughout their daily lives.

Climbing ladders for inspection
We walk on through the spring-green forest and get up to the caves along the main loop hike. Many of these caves are blackened from the fires of the pueblo people. It is most intriguing to inspect these little caves, many of them only reachable by climbing ladders. Cave entrances are low, for the people living here were between 5ft for the average woman and 5ft 6in for the men. Their life expectancy was around 35 years. Arthritis and bad teeth were common ailments. Childbirth was a dangerous process, taking many womens life.

During the late 1400s the canyon population reached about 500.
It was the swiss-born Archeologist Adolph  F.A. Bandelier, who studied and described the Frijoles Canyon and the cliff dwellings, after people from the Cochiti Pueblo led him into their ancestors canyon.

“The Grandest Thing I ever saw”

was Bandeliers comment.

One of 4 ladders to Alcove house
Like wondrous kids we walk along these cliffs, climbing up ladders and down into the dark of the kivas, and I wish being able to enter a time machine watching the daily life of these busy people.
Along the bottom of the canyon flows a live-giving little creek, like it has done for hundreds of years. It must have been a life line for the ancient ones, when they tended to their small agricultural fields down here.

The return path is leading us along the bottom of the canyon through a mighty forest of standing pines. I expect some of these trees being as old as the cliff dwellings. Birds are singing here as they always have done during spring. A rare peace is streaming towards me. 





The ancient forest......
View from Alcove House
Just my size...or?
Cave Researchers....

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