November 10, 2009

Montezuma's Castle National Monument, AZ

Yesterday, we did a tour of some of the fabulous Sinagua Indian sites of the Verde Valley. Due to the year-round waters of the numerous streams flowing down the Mogollon Rim and into the Verde River, this valley was a major place of activity for the Sinagua indians, a group of puebloan peoples.

They built some amazing puebloes and left their mark on the landscape through agriculture and irrigation canals. The National Park Service preserves three of the sites at Montezuma's Castle and Montezuma's Well National Monument and Tuzigoot National Monument.

At Montezuma's Well, an amazing sink hole some 55 feet deep is the place of a Sinagua community, where ruins are perched on the sides and on top of this interesting feature. The water that spring from beneath are 74 degrees F year-round and a home to a unique community of endemic amphipods that are good for endemic leeches, as well as, waterfowl.

Then, the water flows through a cave to the outside of the well and down into the Beaver Creek. However, the Sinagua Indians created an irrigation ditch to transfer the waters to their cotton fields 1000 years ago.

Hilina also greatly enjoyed hiking around the sites, identifying the little animals on the petroglyphs, seeing the little "houses", and dipping her feet into the canal waters.

Further up Beaver Creek is the V-bar-V Heritage Site. Here, thousands of petroglyphs line the cliffs above the creek. The petroglyphs are aligned such that when the sun hits the "corn" petroglyph on the same day each year, it is the day to plant the corn. When the sun hits the other "corn" petroglyph in the fall, it is time to harvest it.

Those lines with lots of horizontal cross-lines located are the corn cobs that would be elluminated by light by the sun. The one at slight left is the corn planting sign, while the one at far right is the corn harvesting sign.

They have also found many more alignments.
 Some in particular show the sun aligning with the solstices and equinoxes

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