Anasazi of the Four Corners

Who Were The Anasazi Tribe

The Anasazi were the archaic people who inhabited the Four Corners of the U.S. (southern Utah, northern Arizona, northwestern New Mexico, and southwestern Colorado) from around 200 A.D. to 1300 A.D. Their culture is described as something that changed continually with a research revealing how they practiced a life-style of hunting, wandering and food-gathering (6000 B.C.) and then started to develop a distinctive culture in the last millennium B.C. In the last two centuries B.C., the Anasazi learned maize horticulture to supplement their food gathering. Later in 1200 A.D., horticulture played a major role in the economy.

Life In A Cliff Dwelling

The Anasazi are known to have lived in cliff dwellings which they built under overhanging cliffs in order to protect them from the elements. Using a mud mortar and blocks of sandstone, the Anasazi created their dwellings which are some of the longest standing structures that the world has known. These famed cliff dwellings continue to captivate the modern historian, archaeologist, and tourist up to the present day.

The cliff dwellings had at least one exit that was built for the sake of defense. Periodically, deep pits were dug within the living quarters. Known as “kivas,” these pits served as religious temples among the Anasazi. For their sleeping areas, these were built into the sides of the dwellings. The overall design allowed the Anasazi to gather water between the porous cracks in the cliff walls.

The Role Of Astronomy

Astronomical considerations (moon, sun, and planetary movements) as well as cosmological became integral elements in the large ceremonies that were assumed to have occurred at Chaco Canyon and the outlying great houses between the late 11th and early 12 centuries C.E. The great houses showed a number of architectural features that are embedded with celestial alignments. At Pueblo Bonito, there were several windows that seemed oriented for the purpose of enhancing solar observations.

The Anasazi learned here to predict the seasons and determined the best time of the year for planting, watering and harvesting. Cosmology experts reiterated how harvests, ritual, major construction projects and crop surplus among the Anasazi were all tightly connected. Furthermore, they argued how a number of the great Chacoan roadways seemed to be primarily built for the purpose of connecting sacred places to the center of Chaco.

The Anasazi Legacy

At the height of their existence, the Anasazi tribe became masters of pottery, architecture, and astronomy. As master agriculturalists, they developed intricate irrigation systems which fed huge fields of squash, maize, and beans. They also built complex cities of earth and stone high above the ground and nestled inside cliff faces. Other structures were built sprawling on desert-floor which were arranged to match the heavens. From this system of living, a distinct culture emerged which was defined by tradition and religion that were enhanced further with a booming population.

The Unsolved Exodus

Several theories have tried to explain why the Anasazi, also known as the Ancestral Puebloans, left their well-established homes in the 12th and 13th centuries. Some of the factors that were considered to explain the phenomenon include prolonged periods of drought, regional or global climate change, environmental degradation, cyclical periods of topsoil erosion, hostility from new arrivals, deforestation, cultural or religious change, and influence from Mesoamerican cultures. A majority of these factors were so far have been supported by archaeological evidence.

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