Fascinating Places: Mesa Verde National Park

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Mesa Verde National Park is an eighty square mile area of cliff dwellings that were built about 800 years ago.  The park is located in the southwestern corner of Colorado in the United States. Being part American Indian, this site always fascinated me.

There are hundreds of ruins at Mesa Verde.  The Cliff Palace, shown above, is the largest and one of the most famous.  The Cliff Palace had 217 regular rooms and 23 kivas, or ceremonial rooms.  Parts of it are two, three and even four stories high.  About 250 people are believed to have lived in the Cliff Palace in the thirteenth century.

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Mesa Verde is Spanish for “green table” and was named that because of the green mesas that make up the area.  These cliff dwellings are situated high in the cliffs in order to protect their inhabitants from invasion and animals.

As you can see, these dwelling are quite impressive.  What is really amazing is that they are carved out of the stone well above ground level of the cliffs in addition to being built from stones brought up from the canyon floor, making it even more amazing than the ancient city of Petra.

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Can you imagine carrying huge stone and logs up steep canyon trails by hand?  Well, that is exactly what the builders of these cities did, because they had no machines or animals to help them.

The people who lived at Mesa Verde were called Anasazi Indians.  Anasazi is a Navajo word that means “Ancient Ones”  The Anasazi Indians lived in Mesa Verde for over 700 years.  Their disappearance from these dwellings still remains a mystery.  All that is left are the buildings, a few tools and some pottery.

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According to archeologists, the people of Mesa Verde were only little more than five feet tall and lived to be only about thirty five years old.  They were mostly farmers, with crops consisting mainly of corn, beans and squash.  For extra food, they hunted wild animals and gathered wild plants.

The people of Mesa Verde were skilled pottery makers.  They made many useful items from clay that were rich in decoration.  The items they created included bowls for cooking and eating, spoons and jars for storing and carrying water as well as cups and other utensils.

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