11 July 2008


Ok, so this is Montezuma's Castle, between Payson and Flagstaff. This ancient cliff dwelling was built by the Sinagua Indians, and had nothing to do with Montezuma, in spite of the name. The Sinagua occupied a large region around modern day Flagstaff, though the earlier inhabitants of the area are believed to have been a branch of the Hohokam. Using the Verde River they created an irrigation system, though much less extensive than those of their southern neighbors. Around 1100, the Hohokam migrated to lands further south, and the Sinagua moved in. While the Hohokam had lived in small, dispersed villages, making their sites harder to find, the Sinagua built large dwelings to hold several families, such as Wupatki, Tuzigoot, and Montezuma's Castle. The reason behind this is believed to at least partially be because of a great drought in the Southwest around 1300. This forced the tribes to live in larger communities to grow crops more efficiently, and many dwellings were built in easily defendable positions, such as in a cliff. The Castle was excavated in 1933 and originally had five stories with 50-60 rooms. half built into the rock face, half built of masonry, some of the inhabitants were even buried in the cliffside. Around 1400, the area was abandoned, and historians are unsure whether the Sinagua migrated south, like the Hohokam before them, or if they integrated with the modern day Hopi Indians on the Mogollon Rim. Just for simplicity sake, lets say that the wife took all these pictures.

A closer look at the dwelling construction

These remains are known as Castle A, built at the bottom of the cliff a short distance away. Despite its now deteriorated state, it was once a six story apartment building holding about 45 rooms.
A tributary of the Verde River, that provided water to the inhabitants
Showing what daily life would have looked like at the Castle
Showing the believed construction sequence
A fossilized donut! Ok, just the remains of a rock that was used to grind up food in.

No comments: