Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Wupatki National Monument

Wupatki National Monument consists of several pueblos that may be viewed on a self guided tour. Wupaki National Monument is part of a 35 mile park loop, which also has Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument as part of the combined park system.  The entrance to this park is approximately 13 miles north of Flagstaff off of Highway 89. We did the volcano lava field hikes a few days earlier and spent several hours touring that part of the park.  We returned on a separate day to tour the pueblos.  We spent 4 hours exploring the pueblos and visitor center.  Although we took our time and were satisfied with the amount of hiking and sightseeing we did, we could have easily spent another hour or two!  
We started our exploration at the Wukoki pueblo. Wukoki means big house.  It is my favorite!  It sits high up on a beautiful red rock mound with a great view across the landscape.  It is estimated to have housed 2-3 families.  Wukoki is believed to be from the Kayenta Anasazi culture and occupied from 1120-1210 A.D.  
This room is entered through the short narrow doorway on the right and the even smaller doorway goes into the tall tower.
This rock surface is believed to have originally served as a patio outside the Wukoki pueblo.  It makes a great patio with a wonderful view today!  It would have been an area for cooking and a place for the children to play.  
This is Wupatki pueblo.  It is a huge, but you nearly have to walk right up on it before you see it, as it sits down in a valley and blends in with its surroundings!
Here is a representation of what it may have looked like.
Wupatki is a whole complex consisting of 100 rooms, a tower, a community room, and a ceremonial ball court! At one time this area was thought to be a thriving community of several thousand!  The low circular structure to the forefront is a community gathering area for ceremonies.  The circular structure in the background is a ball court.
Here is a closer look at the open-air community room. Excavators didn't find any evidence that it was ever closed in with a floor, roof, or walls like a ceremonial kiva would have been.  Wupatki was an important center for trade based on items found. Copper bells from Mexico, shell beads, and the remains of more than 40 Macaws from Mesoamerica were found.  Tribal groups, both Puebloan and non-Puebloan, gathered at Wupatki.     
This is the ball court.  It may have had multiple functions.  It may have been a place for ceremonial functions, competitive games, and use as a water reservoir.  
It is difficult to define a cultural identity for Wupatki Pueblo, as it has a blend of Kayenta and Sinagua architecture.  More than 100 pottery types have been found here.
Here is a cute little resident!  He looked a bit bigger and scarier as he crossed the sidewalk in front of us!
This rock structure surrounds a small natural crevice into a cave and is called a blow hole.  When the barometric pressure of the outside air is lower than in the cave, an air current blows out of the cave! When the outside barometric pressure is higher than in the cave, the air current blows into the cave!
Here is a perfect example of the strength of the air current!!!  The air coming from the cave was fresh smelling and had a frigid temperature as good as any air conditioning! Roy and I speculated on how the natives might have been able to build a trough to channel the cold air up into the pueblo, but archaeologists haven't found any evidence of structures in relationship to the blow hole. The cave has never been explored!  These blow holes are said to exist in other locations within the desert! That's an impressive natural phenomenon!
This room was used as a large trash bin.  Archaeologists found it quite full and learned a lot from the contents.
Just like today there was a need for a community dump. This dark brown mound behind the pueblo covers the community refuse.  It is referred to as a midden.  It has only been excavated enough to know its purpose. Excavation is costly and it is looked upon as a last resort for preservation. Excavations are only implemented, if the area cannot be preserved in place.
Other people have come and gone since the original occupants. During the late 1800s, Basque sheepherders stayed here briefly.  In the 1930s a couple of the rooms were reconstructed to house park rangers! The 4 people living here didn't have electricity or running water.  They used propane to cook and had a gas refrigerator.  The government charged them $10 a month for rent!
One more look!  I love the red rock masonry!

Here are items from Wupatki.
Fine cotton textiles and abundant tools suggest weaving was an important and highly developed skill at Wupatki.
The Citadel pueblo is located further along the park loop away from Wupatki.  It fills the top of a mesa!  It is unknown whether the Wupatki and Citadel communities were autonomous, cooperatives, or competitors.
There is a natural rock foundation that the pueblo is built on.  That seems to be the standard practice.
This is a giant sinkhole next to the mesa the Citadel is built on.  The earth collapses as limestone erodes away below.  Nothing was stated as to whether it collapsed while the Citadel was occupied, but wouldn't that have been scary to witness!  This sinkhole does not to hold water.
Here is a little perspective from the top!
This is Roy and me making some tall shadow art across the Citadel.  I love the view!
There was one last pueblo sitting off to itself called Lomaki, which means the beautiful house.  It beckoned us to hike a bit more, but it was after hours and our bodies were telling us they'd done enough, so the mystery of Lomaki will remain unknown!