Archive for April 2012
One day the last week of November Skyler and I had a whirlwind sightseeing day a couple of hours north of Phoenix. Our first stop that morning was at Montezuma Castle.
The Sinagua people occupied this 45-50 room dwelling in the cliff side for over 400 years. They made their way up and down via a ladder system that they could pull back up behind them to protect themselves from possible intruders. The cool thing is that they used to let visitors climb ladders and go into the ruins in years past. But now you can only view from the paved walkway below in order to preserve this historical site.
The Sinagua people and this dwelling have nothing to do with Montezuma as the name might suggest. When it was first discovered it was believed to have been inhabited by Montezuma, therefore given the name. Researchers later discovered however that it had nothing to do with Montezuma, but the name stuck anyway.
During their 400 plus years there, the Sinagua people lived off of the abundant land and its resources. Although it is situated in the desert, this village was formed along Beaver Creek which provided the necessary water to sustain life. They cultivated the numerous edible and medicinal plants and appear to have lived very well. It is believed that the only reason they eventually abandoned this location was because of overpopulation.
There was somewhat of a role reversal within the Sinagua culture compared to modern day habits. The women were the ones that built the dwelling and grew the crops. The men hunted and wove baskets and made weapons. Because of this, the ceiling heights in the castle are very low. The average Sinagua woman was only around 5 foot tall, therefore the height of the ceilings were merely an inch taller to avoid extra labor. Can you imagine having only an inch head clearance in your house today?!
The rangers at the park were so sweet and very eager to share information about this historical landmark. It was definitely cool to see and only cost $5 per adult. Beyond the entrance of the museum/gift shop the short 1/3 mile trail passes along side the monument, past the creek, and then loops you back up to the building. You only need to plan for about 30 minutes here and it’s definitely worth the stop!