|Montezuma's Castle, part of a cliffside village containing a 5-story|
apartment-like building which was once home to several thousand people.
The architectural wonders of Montezuma's Castle and Tuzigoot National Monuments however, have endured since the 12th century in the Verde River Valley south of Flagstaff, Arizona. These Puebloan multistoried adobe structures adorn hillsides and cliff alcoves and were home to the Southern Sinagua people.
Don't feel dismayed if you haven't heard of the Southern Sinagua. I hadn't heard of them either until a few weeks ago when I toured Tuzigoot and Montezuma's Castle and learned that contemporary Hopi tribes trace their ancestry to immigrants from the Sinagua culture.
The Sinagua lived and farmed in the Verde River Valley for over 300 years—longer than the United States has been a country—and then disappeared. Why did they leave? It's a mystery, but archeologists speculate any number of reasons ranging from overpopulation and resource depletion to disease or conflict within groups.
|Tuzigoot National Monument. This hillside pueblo once contained|
100 rooms. Many artifacts were discovered here.
When the Sinagua left their villages they didn't take much with them. The structures themselves are impressive, but even more incredible was the array of artifacts found within.
While unearthing the rooms of Tuzigoot, archeologists discovered a treasure-trove of everyday household items—carved tools and needles, decorated pottery, storage containers, ornaments of shell and turquoise for personal wear.
But what really brought these homes to life for me was the discovery of tiny carved animals and bowls, believed to be children's toys.
How on earth did the Sinagua persuade their children to leave their toys behind?
|Antique's Roadshow, eat your heart out!|
These carved stone toys are all miniatures, no
larger than a few inches.
No way could anyone have pried these tiny
stone animals from my five-year-old hands!
I highly recommend a visit to these two ancient archeological sites. You'll walk away in awe of the Sinagua people and their resilience and ingenuity. And you may wonder what of any significance will endure from our culture.