Living Within Rocks

On Earth Day 2016 a friend and I drove nearly 300 miles north of Tucson to shoot photos of Montezuma’s Castle and Well.

Southern Sinagua farmers built this five-story, 20-room dwelling sometime between 1100 and 1300 CE.

It occupies a cliff recess 100 feet above the valley.

Early American settlers were freaked out by the structure which they erroneously assumed was Aztec in origin, hence the name Montezuma Castle.

A short distance west, nudging a cliff base is Castle A. Now badly deteriorated, it was once an imposing five-story apartment-like building with about 45 rooms.

Occupants found reliable water in the creek and fertile land in a nearby terrace and the valley below.

A valley surrounded by Limestone mountains and filled with Sycamore trees.

We left the valley and hiked two hot miles to Montezuma’s Well.

Montezuma Well has all the surprise of a lake and lush vegetation in the midst of a desert.

It is a limestone sink formed eons ago, still fed by continuously flowing springs.

The Southern Sinagua irrigated crops with its waters. In places, we saw saw traces of the lime-coated irrigation ditches.

The pit house that I shot here dates from about 1050 CE.

Southern Sangura dwellings here range in size from one room houses to large pueblos. Between 1125 CE and 1400 CE about 100–150 people lived here.

So why did they suddenly, seemingly overnight, pack up and leave the safety of their Rock Sanctuary? No one knows.

My friend and I left because it was wicked hot,

and because the trail was rough,

often vertical, and difficult to traverse.

But what we saw astounded.

iPhone photos, hey it would have been too difficult to lug my 35 mm DSLR, enhanced by Snapseed, by Roger Hilleboe, aka #Iconoclast00

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