Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Montezuma Castle

Our first stop is Montezuma Castle National Monument.

The 19 room pueblo ruin along Beaver Creek was inhabited by the Sinagua people. Construction began about 900 years ago, and the site was abandoned about 600 years ago.

This diorama in the visitor's center depicts life in the pueblo. There's even a tiny loom. The Sinagua wove mats, blankets and sandals, as well as cotton fabric for clothing and pouches. Food was stored and prepared in the pueblo. Corn was a staple food. Grinding corn was a daily activity.

Beaver Creek is one of the only perennial sources of water in this dry region. The Sinagua cultivated corn, beans and squash. They also had many uses for wild plants - including weaving sandals from yucca leaves, and using the point at the end of a yucca leaf as a needle. Many plants also had medicinal properties.

45-50 people occupied this site at its peak. There were two trails that lead to the Castle - one from the creek bed and one from the top of the cliff. Ladders must have been used to access the Castle, as well as to go up and down between floors. No ladders are known to have been found at Montezuma Castle, although neighboring ruins contained remains of ladders.

Montezuma Castle got its name from the mistaken belief that Montezuma, the Aztec chief, lived there.

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