Sunday, August 14, 2016

Tuzigoot National Monument, Arizona

Tuzigoot is Apache for "crooked water".  It's the remnant of a Southern Sinagua village built between 1000 and 1400. It crowns the summit of a long ridge rising 120 feet above the Verde Valley. The original pueblo was two stories high in places, with 87 ground-floor rooms. There were few exterior doors; entry was by ladders through room openings. The village began as a small cluster of rooms inhabited by some 50 persons for 100 years. In the 1200s the population doubled and then doubled again. 

The Southern Sinagua were ancient farmers of the Verde Valley. They flourished in the Verde Valley for hundreds of years. They were hunters and gatherers who roamed the valley. 

The excavation of Tuzigoot revealed clues about how the prehistoric builders constructed and used the pueblo. Massively thick walls, built on large foundation rocks, tapered as they rose. The presence of very few doorways indicated that entry to most rooms was by way of ladders through rooftop hatches.

Tuzigoot and other pueblos throughout the Verde Valley were occupied for hundreds of years - longer than the United States has been a country. They had thrived and prospered. But in the late 1300s, the people began to leave.  Why?

According to the Hopi, the Verde Valley was never intended to be a permanent home. Instead, it was one stop in a much larger migration. Eventually the time came for that migration to continue. It is possible that changing weather patterns, crop failures, or a breakdown of ancient trade relationships were signals it was time to move on.

They did not leave all at once, and some stayed behind. The Zuni tell us those who could not travel remained here. The Yavapai say their ancestors left the pueblos and farms for a more mobile lifestyle of hunting and gathering.

Cane Cholla

The Hitchhiker

The cylindrical joints of this unique cactus break off easily and can catch on skin and fur. The plant spreads readily across the landscape, travels with unwary hikers and animals, then roots where dropped. The cholla offers excellent protection from snakes and other predators.

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