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Mesa Verde cliff dwellings, Discovery 66

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Stone Age Americans: tour of Mesa Verde cliff dwellings and discussion of the ancient people who built them—as seen on TV series, Discovery 66.





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Co-sponsored by New World Archaeology Council Explore the Mesa Verde region of Colorado, first settled by a mix of immigrants and natives, and inhabited by the Pueblo people for 700 years..

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This is Mesa Verde National Park in southwestern Colorado years ago it was the home of a remarkable tribe of Indians whose civilization flourished and then suddenly disappeared we'll find out more about this strange mystery and we'll meet a sixteen hundred year old mummy named Esther today when discovery visits the Stone Age Americans if you had been a Colorado cowboy hurting your.

Cattle down there and soda Canyon one snowy day in December 1888 you'd probably have thought you knew your territory pretty well after all you've been following your herd through these canyons for years down there your trails up here the broad flatland the Spanish explorers had named a Mesa Verde a green table empty but for the Ravens and Swift's that loop and glide in the high.

Clear air of the Mesa and suddenly in a branch of the canyon you really didn't know too well you looked up and there halfway up the face of the cliffs themselves in strange circles hollowed out under the ground a silent City of Adobe in stone no human being to be seen for the people who had built where had they gone and why this is cliff palace the largest cliff dwelling in the Mesa.

Verde a few hundred feet below the Mesa top and cut into the face of the cliff the city's built in a cave measuring 325 feet long and 60 feet high at the opening the cave cuts back 90 feet into the Mesa and is packed side to side with houses rooms towers and storage chambers it's estimated that when cliff palace was inhabited there were over 200 separate rooms rising in eight different.

Levels and within this maze of terraced adobe buildings there lived a community of almost 400 people two Cowboys found cliff palace on December 18th 1888 right after that they left their cattle and went off in search of other Indian ruins and they found them .

Three major cliff dwellings were discovered by two lonely Cowboys in the space of a day and a half these were small Indian cities but when had they last rung with the sound of humanity was it a year ago or had it been a thousand and why were they here in the first place hidden away in caves what must it have been like to live in a cliff dwelling between the Mesa top and.

The canyon floor in a cave cut into the sheer vertical walls of a Mesa Verde a cave which we now know as balcony house hello far far below is the floor of soda Canyon Bravo Greg we find few mule deer population zero above a thick sandstone layer supporting the soil of Mesa Verde in here tucked away a village a small.

Indian town which thrived in the 13th century this it's balcony house there were 33 houses in this cave summarizing two or three stories to the roof of the cave a handful of these block-like one-room structures are still intact others are only broken jagged walls or faint outlines of definition against the stone balcony house has two of the large circular ceremonial.

Chambers the Hopi language calls Kiva's today they look something like open wells but when the ancient Indians lived here the Kiva's were roofed over and the roofs formed the plazas and courtyards of the village back here where the cave roof meets the floor there's a spring which made the problem of living here much simpler not many cliff dwellings had their own supply of fresh cold water.

Must have made all the difference in the world to the women of the village not to have to carry water up from the canyon floor the archaeologists estimates of population vary some say 45 others as many as 65 persons made an urban home inside this cave in years between 1200 and about 1276 how do we know what the years were the 12 hundreds well bill experts can date ancient ruins in.

Several ways among the most certain is the one which has been used very often at Mesa Verde the examination of the rings of trees these houses were made of stone Adobe and wood this pole is part of a tree underneath here a plug about the size of a bottle cork has been drilled out this is called a core sample it carries a cross-section of the trees growth rings from the time the tree.

First started to grow until it was cut down it's the kind of fingerprint but which scientists can date the chopping down of the tree and with it the building of the house the end result is accurate enough for us to know that this house was built in 1202 but that the house next door was not added until 1274 and Jenny the Indians of the Mesa Verde had only the simplest of Stone Age tools.

Like this hammer stone and this stone axe but their masonry was of a high order and they cared about the appearance of their houses walls are straight corners are nearly perfect even these openings which served as both doorways and windows were constructed with great care the mesa verde indians were such resourceful builders that they were able to make.

Natural handicaps work to their advantage for example the boulder like this one was too large to move it build a wall under it and then pecked away at the face of the stone intellicus smooth and pleasing to the eye and on its surface they carved an ingenious flight of stairs all of these structures press the study of the life of the american.

Indians today and tell us a great deal about what life was like in balcony house in the days when it was alive when men and women raised their children here and taught them lessons to get them through a difficult world Gini the decision to make a light here on the face of a cliff must have been a very difficult one one the Indians were forced to make we know the Indians of.

The Mesa Verde hadn't always lived this way before the year 1200 the Indians had been surface dwellers farmers raising corn and beans and squash vegetables which could do well in the Fertile but dry soil of the Mesa Verde the Indians had lived close to their farming plots they had lived on the mesa verde itself on the flat top of that green table I'm a severity is a fast high plane cut.

Through with canyons like this one first they lived on top and then they moved or were forced over the edges into the very face of the cliffs themselves after that they disappeared or moved again but how about the people themselves do we know very much about them the answer is yes more than you might guess we're going to meet a sixteen hundred year old Indian maiden named Esther.

at the beginning of the first century AD and through the middle of the fifth century the Indians lived in primitive caves of the Mesa Verde region for food they hunted game animals gathered edible wild plants and raised corn and squash and the Fertile Mesa tops it was while exploring one of these caves that archaeologists came upon a.

Most unusual and valuable scientific discovery a mummified body of a young Indian woman who lived in the Mesa Verde region about 1,600 years ago she was a member of the group which archaeologists call the basket makers she's a mummy but a natural mummy not a product of embalming fluids and artificial wrappings like the mummies of Egypt this is Esther Esther died at about the age.

Of 20 and she was placed in a cave near Durango Colorado in the dry air of the cave her body did not decay and so she came down to it the silent messenger from the dark past Museum experts out of affection have named her Esther she is really a stone age American Girl and Illustrated wordless page from our country's early geography books early as she is.

Esther still doesn't belong in the first chapter the story of the Stone Age American started at least 15,000 years ago when man first began to appear in North America they had come from Asia crossing to Alaska and then moving south they were hunters and nomads they kept on the move in search of the animals they hunted we don't know very much about them but we know they were here.

And we know they're the ancestors of a lot of today's North and indian these are the basket makers the people of Esther's time they were farming Indians who had no homes and lived in whatever caves the land provided they were the first farmers of this area when they came to the Mesa Verde they brought with him the corn and squash which they raised corn was their.

Basic food it didn't use pottery but they made baskets which they used as all-purpose containers they knew the dog and used his hair in weaving sashes and sandals and bags there was no bow and arrow but they did have a weapon called an atlatl it was a throwing stick which through long dark like arrows they live simple lives but they experimented and worked out new.

Ideas they handed down many many things to those who came after them including their own immediate descendants the modified basket maker it is now between 450 and 750 ad the Indians have developed pottery and Adobe for the plastering of their dwellings and they have taken to the use of the pit house the earliest surface dwellings found up a flat open areas of a Mesa Verde and.

There is now the ball a taro beans came into youth and women learned how to Thresh them and cook them and as a result protein came more and more into their diet they had the stone axe and the Maul and other stone and bone tools there were more people and they were stronger and healthier by the end of this period there were hundreds of pit house villages in the Mesa Verde and the.

Surrounding area and it was this period that saw the development of the domesticated turkey and when the wild turkey became a pet the mesa verde indians had the only two domesticated animals they ever knew the dog and the turkey this is a typical mesa verde pueblo of about 850 ad the houses are joined together in long curving rows facing south in the front are two.

Underground ceremonial rooms kiba's one of them is complete and the other is under construction it is probably early fall judging by the crops and the activities people are drying their food building houses dressing animal hides and in some cases enjoying that byproduct of a more developed society doing nothing at all this too was a peaceful period with the.

Population growing and the people spreading out over a wide area but then something happened something came along which drove these farming Indians over the edge of the Mesa and into the sheer vertical sides of the sandstone cliffs this is how one of the Mesa Verde Indian cliff dwellings must have looked during the period of its greatest activity there were well over 100 rooms used for.

Sleeping and storage most of the life was lived out of doors in the open courts and on the house roofs but for the first time the element of danger is present there are towers the villages themselves have been moved into caves there is evidence of a complicated system of warning and defense why had marauding bands of warlike Indians suddenly appeared on the Mesa tops the.

Answer is a very probable yes but in the caves with all the increased hardships the life of the Indians of the Mesa Verde reached the highest point in its development after 13 centuries of steady development this civilization had reached its peak then suddenly they were gone what happened to this thirteen hundred year.

Old civilization why did it suddenly disappear there are several theories in the year twelve seventy six and drought came upon the area a drought which was to last for 23 years it's also thought that during the same period the Indians of the Mesa Verde lived under constant attack by hostile Indian tribes to better understand what happened let's examine some of the things we do know.

About their daily lives as they lived in cliff dwellings such as balcony house to get to balcony house today you have to climb a 32 foot ladder that hangs out over the sheer walls of soda Canyon when the Indians did it all they had were hand holds and tiny toe hold notches in those days there wasn't any entrance at this end only a dwelling or two in some storage rooms like this one those racks.

We used for drying corn the dried corn could last for years but it would need it for food it would be brought out of storage and granted to corn meal by the women of the village this is how it was done this is the corn grinding stone called a metate the grinder is called a mano which in Spanish means hand the dried kernels are rubbed again and again.

Between the mano and the metate until a fine cornmeal results like this balcony house takes its name from a system of ledges which once extended around the second floor level of many of these dwellings this is actual Indian masonry of the 1200 these floor beams extend out through the wall to fund the basis for these balconies lighter beams are placed over them then plaster followed by a.

Layer of dry juniper bark then another layer of plaster to top off the whole thing these balconies are useful as runways to get from one upper chamber room to another then - they must have been excellent vantage points on which to post a sentry and sentries were needed - against the marauding enemies who had driven the people of balcony house to the extreme.

Measure of building such a dwelling in the first place one of the times when a century must have been needed the most was when the men of the village were down below in the Kiva's a ceremonial chambers where bill is now Jenny the experts are absolutely certain that the Kiva's were used for ceremonial observances and that they were largely restricted to men and large families or.

Clans may well have had their own Kela the men would be down here seated around this ledge or a banquette with a small fire going in the fire pit to keep them warm the Kiva had an ingenious ventilation system ventilation was necessary remember because the Kiva's were roofed over fresh air was drawn down into the room through this little chimney then this wall or deflector.

Split the air currents so they passed around it without putting out the fire or blowing the ashes around in addition to the deflector and the fire pit there is a third standard item found in every Kiva floor it's a small hole perfectly round and it's called a Sipapu Sipapu that's another Hopi word and it refers to the symbolic opening from the underworld for the use of gods and.

Spirits the Hopi Indians like their ancestors who lived here believed that they originally came from under the ground from Mother Earth and that eventually they must return there where their spirits and their ancestors live they believed according to many people that the great Sipapu the real one is somewhere in the Grand Canyon the Kiva is a combination of ceremony and solid.

Function it must have been the warmest spot in the village and winters on the Mesa Verdi could go below zero if the kiba's were pretty much restricted to the men what do you suppose the women did to keep warm Jenny well build the smoke stains on the roofs of the individual houses tell us that people had fires in their own room here's a place where the fire got out of hand.

There was once a house right here that burned down you can tell because of the charred timber and also because all the remaining walls are a bright even pink burning actual contact with flame oxidizes the sandstone and turns it pink life and balcony house had its problems fire from within and the constant fear of enemy attack from without there's no mistaking.

That the people of balcony house were very very conscious of the threat of enemy attack the only approach to the dwelling was a narrow ledge running 400 feet er on the face of the cliff and at one point that trail passed through a narrow crevice and if that weren't enough the Indians blocked the crevasse with high walls and that's only a tiny crawl tunnel to get to balcony house.

Anybody stranger or friends had to crawl through this little hole and there were ledges just inside of the mouth of the tunnel anyone coming in on hands and knees as bill is doing now is extremely vulnerable to someone panning up here with a club or a hatchet all those precautions and still they weren't enough the Indians of balcony house had the best defenses of any village in Mesa.

Verde a command of this canyon in any direction you could name but what they couldn't control was nature they feared a hostile two-legged animal man but what cut them down in the end or forced them to move on was a drum in 1276 the rain didn't come and the crops failed no one will ever know how long their supplies held out or how the decision to leave was reached did they all leave or did.

Some of them stay on hoping for rain but waiting too long those are questions without answers Ginny all we know is the thirteen centuries of steady progress ended here the people vanished they left behind their cities like actors leaving a set of a play all we can do is visit the stage look at the scenery and examine the props like the corn grinding stone used everyday for many.

Years and then one day never used again it's only a part of a mystery story the story of the Stone Age Americans the vanished Indians of the Mesa Verde we hope you've enjoyed our visit to Mesa Verde National Park Colorado if you'd like to find out more about the Indians of Stone Age America ask you librarian for these books the Pretlow Indians by Sonia Bleeker the ancient ones by Gordon.

C Baldwin and this book honey by Miriam Conrad buff bye bye this has been a Jules power production in association with ABC News and public affair and they found them three major cliff dwellings were.

Discovered by two lonely Cowboys in the space of a day and a half these were small Indian cities but when had they last rung with the sound of humanity was it a year ago or had it been a thousand and why were they here in the first place hidden away in caves what must it have been like to live in a cliff dwelling between the Mesa top and the canyon floor in a cave cut into the.

Sheer vertical walls of the Mesa Verde a cave which we now know as balcony house hello far far below is the floor of soda Canyon Bravo Bradley fine phew mule deer population zero above a thick sandstone layer supporting the soil of Mesa Verde in here tucked away a village a small Indian town which thrived in the 13th.

Century this its balcony house there were 33 houses in this cave some of them rising two or three stories to the roof of the cave a handful of these block like one-room structures are still intact others are only broken jagged walls or faint outlines of definition against the stone this is Mesa Verde National Park in southwestern Colorado years ago it was.

The home of a remarkable tribe of Indians whose civilization flourished and then suddenly disappeared we'll find out more about this strange mystery and we'll meet a sixteen hundred year old mummy named Esther today when discovery visits the Stone Age Americans if you had been a Colorado cowboy hurting your cattle down there in Soda Canyon one snowy day in December 1888 you'd.

Probably have thought you knew your territory pretty well after all you'd been following your herd through these canyons for years down there your trails up here the broad flatland the Spanish explorers had named a severity a green table empty but for the Ravens and Swift's that loop and glide in the high clear air of the Mesa and suddenly in a branch of the canyon you really didn't.

Know too well you looked up and there halfway up the face of the cliffs themselves round towers we're towers within 100 bucks like houses and strange circles hollowed out under the ground a silent City of Adobe and stone no human being to be seen who are the people who had built it where had they gone and why this is cliff palace the largest cliff dwelling in the.

Mesa Verde a few hundred feet below the Mesa top and cut into the face of the cliff the city's built in a cave measuring 325 feet long and 60 feet high at the opening the cave cuts back 90 feet into the Mesa and is packed side to side with houses rooms towers and storage chambers it's estimated that when cliff palace was inhabited there were over 200 separate rooms rising in 8.

Different levels and within this maze of terraced adobe buildings there lived a community of almost 400 people two Cowboys found cliff palace on December 18th 1888 right after that they left their cattle and went off in search of other Indian ruins

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