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How Would You Get Into Cliff Dwellings Without Doors?

“Look at this cliff, Darlene.”

#ancienthomes, #cliffdwellings Cee’s Which Way Challenge, Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge – Chutes & Ladders

Built to Last – Cliff Dwellings With Ladders

Limestone made a durable building material. The Sinagua Indians built these ancient homes 800-1,000 years ago.”

“Cool!” Darlene asked, “But most of these cliff-dwellings don’t have an entrance. How did the Sinagua or “Mystery People” get in? There’s another mystery for you.”

Ancient Cliff homes with ladders - Tuzigoot National Monument
Tuzigoot National Monument former homes of the Sinagua, Mystery People

“True enough, Darlene. The cliff dwellings have ladders, though. Maybe they could go out the top. That doesn’t explain how they got to ground level, though.”

Tuzigoot Cliff Dwellings & Museum

Tourism boomed Thanksgiving holiday weekend at Tuzigoot National Monument. A ranger stood next to the checkout clerk at the museum. He answered questions from young visitors who had been on the trail. They completed Tuzigoot Booklet to earn the Junior Ranger badges.

Tuzigoot Monument Cliff Dwelling story board
“Excavating is like tearing out every page after you read it. If you miss a clue and don’t take good notes, you can never go back for a second look at how things were before you dug them up.” National Ranger Book

“He’s been up here four times. When they finish the Ranger Book, then we fill out the certificate, swear them in. Presto! They become a Junior Ranger.

Pottery from cliff dwellings at Tuzigoot.
Pieces of pottery are called sherds, sometimes called shards.

The museum told the Sinagua story in displays and artifacts. Archeologists noted six styles of pottery. For example, there were 108 complete bowls of undecorated plainware. But they found only four sherds of Tularosa Black-on-White pottery.

Artifacts found in cliff dwellings
Student-friendly signs made exploration easy.

In & Out – Cliff Dwellings Offered Plenty to Explore

Cliff Dwellings before excavation
Imagine finding this mound.

Tuzigoot National Monument is a large pueblo. We would not know about the cliff dwellings without excavating. Archeologists in 1933-1934 took out 5,000 cubic yards of earth. The National Park Service does not excavate often anymore. When the dirt is removed, artifacts leave their natural settings, never to go back exactly as they were before.

Tuzigoot Cliff Dwellings in 2016

Stops along the way explain the process of excavation. At the top of the grassy incline stands the Tuzigoot Pueblo.

Darlene reading a cliff dwelling marker
Markers told the history of the Sinagua Indians, the results of copper mining on the valley, and explained the cliff dwellings.

A slight chill in the breeze kept us comfortable in our coats. As we walked along, we could see the building walls. Even though they were not complete, we could see no doors.

Cliff dwellings in Tuzigoot Pueblo
Today we can see only the foundations or lowest levels of the cliff dwellings.

The broad paved path encircles the cliff dwellings. I rate this path a 1, the easiest level. Wheel-chair-patients cannot climb the ladders inside the cliff dwellings to the top-level. However, they can see cliff dwellings from almost every angle.

Top level of the Tuzigoot Cliff Dwellings
To climb the ladder to the top-level of the cliff dwellings must have been difficult for the elderly.

From the top, the “Mystery People” could see a long way. We could see the historic mining towns of  Jerome, Cottonwood, and Clarkdale, AZ. Little did the ladder people know what would happen to their beloved marsh as a result of copper mining. Nor did American copper miners know what destruction they created.

map of cliff peoples in Verde Valley, AZ

17 replies »

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  2. You’re a wonderful tour guide Marsha. And I was delighted to see you post about Tuzigoot, where I plan on visiting in March. We spent this past winter in Arizona and went to the old copper mine and ghost town in Jerome! ๐Ÿ™‚

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    • That is a great town. It’s changed a lot in the last 20 years, I understand. I bought the Images of America Jerome book. I may have an older post on that city. We went a year or so ago. ๐Ÿ™‚ I spent the day posting yours and Terri’s books on social media. I’m up to about 550 reached on my Facebook page, TC History Gal Productions. Yeah! It was 12 yesterday. ๐Ÿ™‚ I hope you get lots of purchases! ๐Ÿ™‚

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    • Thanks so much. I’m going to start doing my travel photo challenges on this blog. I’m trying to monetize, and I can link to affiliates within each article, and I may be able to get sponsors from the places I travel.

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Marsha

Marsha

Hi, I'm Marsha Ingrao, a retired educator and wife of a retired realtor. My all-consuming hobby is blogging and it has changed my life. My friends live all over the world. In November 2020, we sold everything and retired to the mile-high desert of Prescott, AZ. We live less than five miles from the Granite Dells, four lakes, and hundreds of trails with our dog, Kalev, and two cats, Moji and Nutter Butter. Vince's sister came with us and lives close by. Every day is a new adventure.

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