today, down I17. Decided to look in on
Montezuma’s Castle on the way. Nothing
to do with Montezuma, the site was misnamed by the first European visitor who
assumed all advanced cultures were Aztec. An elaborate, five-story, multi-room residence
built into a limestone cliff by the Sinagua tribe (literally, “without water”).
The tribe flourished in the region
between 1,000AD and 1,400AD after which they dispersed. It being President’s Day Weekend, park
admissions were free.
After the castle was discovered, a nearby artesian well was discovered, also occupied by the Sinagua (in the desert, water is life) and also named (mistakenly) Montezuma’s Well on the assumption that the same people must have used it. Home to about 150 people, it was formed from a limestone sink and a spring that still flows today.
Enchanted by the success of these ancient peoples in surviving in such a hostile environment, we detoured to the
near Clarkdale. A southern sinagua
village crowning a long ridge 120 feet above the Tuzigoot National Monument Verde
Valley (remember the Verde
River?), it housed some 50 persons for 100 years before growing
into a village.
Cliff-dwelling at the well