Though there are many beautiful sights to see in the U.S. few of them compete chronologically with the kind of ancient history that can be found in many parts of Europe, Asia, the Middle East and other parts of the world. There are, however, a few ancient sites here in America and they belong to the Native Americans – the original inhabitants of this country. One such historic location is Mesa Verde, home to one of the oldest and most well-preserved sites: The Cliff Palace.
Though cliff dwellings can be found in other areas, the Cliff Palace is located in southwestern Colorado. It is impressive due to its sheer size and also how well it has been preserved and, subsequent to its discovery in the late 1800s, restored. It is the result of a mass construction effort by the Ancestral Puebloans that inhabited the area. Though historians are still unsure as to the reason why the Puebloans moved from their previous dwellings to the cliffs, they do know that they did so around 1200 AD. As is often the case with history, many of the elements and facts surrounding the Cliff Palace are shrouded in mystery. Not only do historians dispute why the Ancestral Puebloans came to inhabit this grand structure, they are also unsure why, only about 100 years later, they abruptly abandoned these cliff dwellings.
You can feel the history and the ambient mystery surrounding this site as you place your hand upon the ancient sandstone at the various locations. Gazing upon the kivas that exist in each different tribal city, you can envision the Ancestral Puebloans performing various religious rites. At Cliff Palace you can almost see the natives climbing up and down the cliff’s various ladders and carved steps, carrying water and food into their dwellings. The natives were historically nomadic, as were many tribes, but it was the discovery of agriculture that finally allowed for them to take up more sedentary lifestyles here.
Mesa Verde is listed as one of the most ancient places to see in the U.S. and I would more than recommend that everyone pay it a visit if in the area or looking to scratch an ancient archaeological itch but not looking (or having the budget) to travel internationally. It was truly a powerful experience and one that I will hold close in my heart and my mind forever.