A. Brockway's Ancient Southwest
Since August 2001 I have been visiting, more or less systematically, the ruined dwellings of peoples whom archeologists named Anaszi, Mogollon, Hohokam, Sinagua, Salado, and Mimbres. These peoples inhabited what is now Chihuahua, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, and Arizona during a period roughly between 700 and 1500 of the common era. In many cases, the ruins are conserved in National Monuments maintained by the US Park Service. In almost every case present-day tribal peopleswho most likely are descendents of the ancient builders and, in any case, consider themselves to be sohold these ruins to be sacred and visitors are requested to honor them as such.
What follows is a travel report. But more than "Hey! Look! Here's where I went!" I'm trying to make something of an effort to understand the why and how of the cultures and their relationships to one another. At the same time, a travel report is a travel report and not a history, anthropology, or archaeology text.
A travel report is not the place to address such obvious questions as "where did these people come from?" even though the pueblo peoples did not "just appear" at the time they started building the structures that attract tourists like me. Sowithout speculating on the validity, for example, of the long-standing thesis that the predecessors of New World populations came from Siberia over the Bering Land Bridge before the end of the last ice age (see Adovasio 2002)I will limit reflection on what came before the pueblo cultures to the classic (and simplistic) progression from hunter-gathering to more settled agricultural existence. After all, I couldn't take pictures of the Bering Land Bridge! And pictures, in large measure, are what a modern travel report is all about.
But what sort of political structure did they have? Where and how did they practice their religion? Why did the people abandon the buildings, the cities, they worked so hard to build? Where did they go? Those are questions that can't be avoided and do have answers—many of them—which will emerge as we look at the various ruins. So let's do just that. To begin, click the pictograph-style icon (from Chaco Canyon, where the little fellow lives) and go to Pueblo Bonito.