Tag Archives: Ruins

Ancient Culture in New Mexico

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New Mexico is a treasure chest packed full of pretty impressive jewels.

Did you know that in addition to some of the southwest region’s coolest trails, this state boasts incredible archaeological sites too? One site alone represents more than 10,000 years of documented human cultural history. New Mexico is also home of the New Mexico Office of Archaeological Studies (a division of the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs) and the Archaeological Society of NM.

It is a gift to live in a place where you have so many opportunities to explore and introduce your five senses to so much beautifully rich culture! From the pueblo ruins built by women at Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument, to the amazing engineering abilities evident in the ruins and a whopping 4,000 prehistoric and historic archaeological sites at Chaco Culture National Historic Park.

Browse our list of the archaeological sites to explore all over New Mexico and see my top 5 personal favorites:

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OnetoWander’s Top 5

NM Archaeological Wonders

Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument

My absolute favorite so far, not just because of the history and culture but because of the ENERGY. Walking around inside the remaining structure of Quarai you can feel something. I have been back to each of the 3 sites many times and am always amazed how each site has its own unique feel. An interesting fact in its pueblo history – the Quarai structure was built by its women inhabitants:)


Chaco Culture National Historic Park

Chaco is like a Disneyland for archaeology/anthropology lovers – there’s no way you can possibly see everything in one day! The 21 mile drive to the park seems long but very worth it, as the span of the site contains the most well-preserved and most complex prehistoric architectural structures located in North America. With 15 major complexes laid out in an intricate and interesting puzzle, you’ll run out of camera battery long before you run out of things to photograph here.


Bandelier National Monument

I haven’t roamed this site yet, but the photos easily make it a top 5 list item. Bandelier contains a collection of carved out dwellings, some that were once 3 stories high.


Petroglyph National Monument

Every time I walk the trail I seem to notice a different set of petroglyphs. Ancient symbols dating back to 400 to 700 years ago carved into a long wind of volcanic rock. As some sites are a long walk to access, this is not one of them. The ruggedness of the terrain combined with so many shapes to admire make this a great hike or short road trip for kids all ages.


Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument

The Mogollon Culture ❤ As an architecture nerd, I am completely intrigued by a nomadic people that chose to build their village tree-house style, but in a cliff. A very high cliff. The hike climbing almost 200 ft up is breathtaking; the unique history of its former inhabitants going back to 1275-1300 A.D. Made of flat stones set in adobe mud mortar, the cliffs protect 40 rooms of various sizes. The Gila Cliff Dwellings is the ONLY National Monument containing sites of the Mogollon people and once held an Apache grave site.

Road Trip Fever

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chaco 2

Chaco Canyon is to pueblo ruins lovers as Disneyland is to kids of all ages.  To see everything you really need more than one trip. Chaco is an impressively orchestrated maze of beautiful old stone, amazing history of ancient culture, and a little mystery….read more here

 

puye

Nestled in the solid rock is a place between earth and sky. This National Historic Landmark stretches over one mile long and features different levels of dwellings….read more here

 

tent rocks

This amazing geological marvel allows us to observe and experience geological processes up close. What a perfect day trip…read more here

 

wolf

Seeing these majestic animals is one thing – hearing them will make you 100% happy you bought the tickets that go towards a very great cause. (photo credit: Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary)…read more here

Mesa Prieta Petroglyphs

Mesa Prieta, meaning ‘dark mesa’, is a thirty-six square mile mesa extending twelve miles in a northeasterly direction.  Over 100,000 examples of rock images are estimated to exist on the mesa in addition to other archaeological features!

The east side is closely adjacent to the Rio Grande; the western side has large habitable and agricultural areas between the base of the mesa and the nearest drainage.

Ancestral Puebloan peoples were said to develop a style that is now known as Puebloan the Rio Grande Style.  Most Pueblo IV glyphs are believed by archaeologists to be related to some form of ritual or ceremony.

Mesa Prieta Facts

  • The largest numbers of petroglyphs on the site are from the Pueblo IV period, roughly 1300 A.D. to 1600 A.D.
  • Human figures carved into the stone appear as dancers, shamans, hunters, flute players, women giving birth and warrior.
  • Recent research has identified numerous sun calendars and solar markers among the rock images.

Adventures in Anthropology field trip to Mesa Prieta

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See more on Mesa Prieta HERE

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