Sunday, July 13, 2014
Comes the Dawn
Writing Comes the Dawn took me back, through my characters as to what it's like to spend time in Sinagua ruins, which are spread throughout the Southwest in hidden canyons. Such an experience is always meaningful for me. You see bits of pottery, sometimes arrowheads, and you really do find yourself imagining what it must have been like to live in those beautiful canyons and build those homes.
Because an imaginary ruin in an imaginary canyon would be part of the setting of my story, I used my own feelings for those of my heroine. When I am in such a place it's easy to imagine myself a woman living in a place like Wupatki with the ball courts, the many rooms, and wide vistas.
The Sinagua generally only stayed in a site for 100 years and nobody can say why. They built these great looking apartment buildings such as Wupatki and then left it after about 100 years to build another. Was it disease? Religion? Or perhaps busy hands don't get in trouble.
Whatever the reason, it has left in the high plateau of Arizona many such dwellings hidden back in canyons usually with a water source nearby. In some cases, if the water dried up, that might've required a move. Another possibility is a need to build more fortified dwellings. The motives can long be speculated.
The theory on why around 1400A.D. the Sinagua and other peoples of the region totally deserted Utah, Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico is thought to relate to an extensive drought. There are other reasons suggested including a spiritual breakdown. Since dwellings were built about that time down in Mexico, it may be their migration related to the build up of the Aztec culture.
It's long been laughed about that Montezuma's Castle was named for the Aztec ruler and how silly. Except the Pueblo people of New Mexico tell of an Aztec leader coming there to see from where his ancestors had come. Often man's history is more intertwined than he wants to think.
In all of these sites you see middens which is where archaeologists go to get information on burials, diet and yes, longevity of a site. I may or may not have mentioned my daughter is an archaeologist and it's been especially interesting to visit such sites with her for what she sees while there.
Naturally you take nothing from such a place as it will then be waiting for the next visitor to also discover. Plus archaeologists learn a lot about a culture by what it left behind-- when it stays right where it was.