The Ancestral Pueblo people have fascinated us since we arrived in the Four Corners region. I know the victor writes the history books, but geez, I think most students/people would find the history of the native people on this continent fascinating. The Great Sage Plain stretches from Cortez, CO northwestward into Utah. There are tens of thousands of archaeological sites in this area, most not tourist spots or designated parks. Mesa Verde National Park has great viewing of three types of ancestral pueblo dwellings. The first groups settled here around AD 500 & flourished until AD 700. They made pit houses, partially in the ground & covered with pole & mud roofs. This construction technique proved to be quite the fire hazard. Almost all the excavated pit houses show destruction by fire. This may be why the culture evolved into pole & adobe homes on the mesa top nearer their crops. By 1000 AD, they had become expert craftsman & created sturdy beautiful masonry homes with round & square towers. The reason the people began building in the cliffs around 1250 is unclear. Some think they were taking advantage of protection from the climate & others think more of a defense move. The population was expanding & they may have simply needed more room. The area was more densely populated then than now! By 1300 AD, this area was deserted. Thousands of Ancestral Pueblo people moved south into Arizona & New Mexico. Another mystery. Tree ring analysis reveals a 20 year drought, so who knows. Today's Hopi, Zuni, Laguna, & Acoma Pueblos trace their heritage to this area & consider it sacred. The cliff dwellings are so spectacular, one is awed without knowing any history. Can you imagine the surprise of the cowboys that discovered them in the 1880’s? What a wonder! These discoveries marked the beginning of archaeology in America. Many of the ranchers became amateur scientists & worked as their time permitted in preserving the dwellings of the ancient ones. I enjoyed learning about the basket making & pottery skills. These people could make anything out of yucca fiber. Water tight baskets, rope, clothing woven with turkey feathers & rabbit skins for warmth & beautiful sandals. I’d love a pair! The Four Corners potters were the only ones in this time frame to make mugs with handles. Nice wide bottoms, beautifully shaped handles, perfect! Some even had lids for steeping. Amazingly beautiful & useful. Wonder what kinds of tea they liked?