Friday, October 23, 2009

(2) Anasazi Interlude

I packed my bag and drove up to Mesa Verde, in nearby
Colorado. I saw major Anasazi ruins up close, some called
a "palace." At the park's tourist center I talked with some of
the park rangers who were cultural interpreters. They believed
that the Anasazi were originally desert people who went back
thousands of years. They traced Anasazi pottery and was able
to surmise time frames. They believed that the Anasazi were
in the Mesa Verde area, indeed in the whole Four Corners
region, from 1 c.e. to 1,000 c.e. Originally they lived in lodges
on canyon floors, but midway or so they took to chiseling out
apartment-like quarters in the higher ranges of the canyon walls.

As I already knew, they were farmers--squash and corn, mainly.
However, their farming practices and irrigation projects became
more sophisticated over time. As for their pottery, well from this
archaeologists knew a little more about their trading routes that
went as far as to the Pacific and south into Mexico.

The Mexican connection have piqued the interests of some
historians, who think that their contact with MesoAmerica's
Toltec civilization may have influenced the religion of the
Anasazi. Some anthropologists have wondered out loud
that perhaps there might have been a religio-cultural trans-
mission of the Red Macaw "sun" religion between the Toltecs
and the Anasazi.

Regardless, upon the advice of the park rangers, I made my
way to Chaco Canyon where the Anasazi built an enormous
religious complex run by their elite. A difficult place to make
one's way, all I could say was "WOW!" It was worth the effort.
Some of the complexes were absolutely huge, especially the
Pueblo Bonito--which had the reputation for being the largest
apartment complex in the world, for some six-hundred years!

There were also wide roads leading towards the religious
complex. Built before the discovery of the wheel, the roads
were like avenues for religious pilgrimages. At the religious
complex, there were a battery of kivas; but they were small
in comparison to the one great kiva, wherein its circle there
was seating around the walls. People came there to take
part in the rituals, to have religious talks, all presumably
under the aegis of the Sun Priest.

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