Friday, September 19, 2014

Elden Pueblo, Flagstaff, AZ

The Elden Pueblo is located on Highway 89 on the northern edge of Flagstaff.  It is a half mile self guided walking tour that is well worth the visit!  There are several foundations of pueblo structures and an informative pamphlet telling you about them.  Admission is free!
This is a sketch of how the pueblos would have looked.  Entry into the stone pueblos was through the stick, grass, and mud roofs with the exception of some doorways on the upper level.  Some doorways were found on the lower level, but they had been rocked in as part of the wall.  It appears that the inhabitants discovered first floor doorways were a bad idea and progressed to entrances through the rooftops accessible only by ladders!  It didn't say, but I wonder if the exterior ladder was pulled onto the roofs at night!  
Elden Pueblo is a prehistoric Native American village consisting of about 70 rooms.  At its peak inhabitation approximately 300 Sinagua (Sin ah wa) Indians were thought to inhabit the village.  The village was occupied from A.D. 1070 to 1275, which sounded like dinosaur days to us, but is actually only around a 1,000 years ago!  Elden Pueblo is thought to have been part of a major trading system. Various trade items such as Macaw skeletons from Mexico, as well as, shell jewelry from the coast of California have been found throughout the site.  It is recognized by the Hopi (Hope ee) Indians as an ancestral village known as Pasiovi, "the place of coming together".  Several modern Hopi clans trace their ancestry to immigrants from the Sinagua culture.  This site today is an active archaeological dig.

This is the community room within the structure.  I didn't notice it when we were at the site, but later saw in this picture the large smooth stones along the back of the bench that would have served as backrests.  How cool is that!  Looking at the backrest stones I can almost imagine the people sitting side by side around the room!
The main pueblo is so long it can't be captured in one picture.  This is the far right end of the structure.  Note that all the stones used in the exterior wall are large stones.  They are used for load bearing walls.  Roy noticed that the edges of the rocks had been made flat. That seems like it would have been a lot of additional work and we're not sure what the advantage would be to making them smooth over leaving them with their natural shape.
Note the smaller rocks intermingled with the larger rocks for interior walls.  All the walls would be smoothed over with mud.
Just as people do today, the Sinagua remodeled their homes!  Note the large stones used in the wall on the left and the mixed large and small stone wall on the right.  Archaeologists can detect remodeling through the large stoned exterior walls being used as part of an interior room.  An explanation wasn't given for the area of raised ground lined with rocks within this structure.  I'm guessing it served as a raised seating and sleeping area.
This might take you a minute to see the significance of.  See the large terraced rocks to the front of the picture in what looks like a natural water run-off?  Now look at the long lines of rocks out in the grass that also span a natural wallow where water would run downhill during a rainstorm.  This is an early form of terrace farming meant to collect natural water run-off in what is typically a dry climate. The name Sinagua given to the natives means without water.  The natives became adept at maximizing the water available to them.  Ancient technology is so amazing in its simplicity by today's standards and yet so advanced for the times!
Here is another piece of technology!  It's thought to be for grinding ax heads, as the archaeologist who found this stone also found 5 ax heads perfectly matching the grooves in this stone.  Was this early mass production?
The two curved wooden tools on the tree stump are called atalatals,or spear throwers.  Roy and I got a chance to try our ability to throw arrows with the atalatals!
We had no idea how it was done until we later researched the technique.  The arrow sits in a groove at the front of the atalatal and has a small pick at the other end that secures the back end of the arrow. Here is Roy showing pretty good form with his side stance and arm up.
The technique is to stand sideways, weight on the back foot, arm crooked, arrow straight, step forward with force keeping the arm crooked upward, and then flip the wrist forward as your arm comes downward at full extension.  The technique was equated to using the long handled tennis ball throwing devices for tossing a ball for a dog. Our first throws about ripped our arms off at the shoulder, but our next few throws were amazingly smooth and the arrows flew beyond the hay bales.  Keep in mind we didn't have the benefit of the instructions I just gave for how it's done.  Before we were done, Roy managed to plant an arrow in the hay bale right between the deer's ears, but over its head and mine lodged in the bale close to a hoof! We had hoped to practice more, but were ousted by a school field trip of rambunctious second graders!  We don't know if the arrows are typically left out for the public or if it was special because of the field trip, but we're going to make a return trip to hopefully get to launch a few more arrows now that we know the technique!
These were available to throw at targets, but we didn't get a chance to try our skill with them.  The Elden Pueblo site was an easy, relaxing, educational, and fun walk of no more than 30 minutes to an hour.  Be sure to take the time to check it our when you're in Flagstaff!