The Cliff Palace The structures were once one to four storeys tall, with some reaching the natural stone ceiling. People utilized stone and mud mortar, as well as wooden beams suited to the natural clefts in the cliff face, to construct these constructions. The Pueblo people who lived on the South Rim used wood and clay to create houses similar to those found in Mesa Verde.
The Besh-Baal Stupa This ancient structure is made of thick layers of straw that are bound together with grasses and then covered with a metal cap. It stands over 20 feet high and is set upon a base of piled up rocks. The remains of a fire have burned through the top of the stupa indicating it was probably used for sacrificial purposes around A.D. 400-500.
The Hanging Gardens Of Babylon These are the remains of a large public garden built at the end of the 6th century B.C. by King Nebuchadnezzar II of Babylon. It was composed of an artificial mountain with pools, streams, and gardens carved into its sides. The Hanging Gardens are now located in the southern part of the city park of Isfahan.
The Mausoleum Of Halicarnassus Located in western Turkey, this building dates back to about 350 B.C. It is a huge tomb constructed for the king of Caria.
The three principal building materials for the cliff homes were sandstone, mortar, and wooden beams. Each sandstone block was sculpted by the Ancestral Pueblo people using harder stones obtained from adjacent river beds. The mortar between the blocks is made from a combination of local dirt, water, and ash. The wood used to build the frames was primarily cottonwood trees, which grow in abundance along the rivers here.
In addition to the cliff dwellings, Horseshoe Canyon also contains several kivas, rooms with curved walls used by the Anasazi for religious ceremonies. There are also many excellent examples of painted rocks, including many portraits that are more than 1,000 years old!
Cliff Palace can be reached via Highway 184 east out of Flagstaff off I-40. The entrance is about 35 miles east of Flagstaff on U.S. Route 180. The visitor center has an interesting display on the history of the canyon as well as some good maps for hiking trails. Free one-hour tours are given daily at 9:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 2:30 p.m., and 4:30 p.m. You must call in advance to sign up for these tours; otherwise, you can just show up and hope for luck. Be sure to bring sunscreen, a hat, drinking water, and bags for your trash (including toilet paper).
Cliff Palace was erected by Ancestral Puebloans, also known as Anasazi. Ancestral Puebloans were indigenous to the Four Corners region, which connects Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona. Cliff Palace's 150 rooms were built with natural sandstone, wooden beams, and mortar. It is estimated that it took about 10 years to build this palace.
Cliff Palace is a well-preserved example of a pueblo, or fortified town. Pueblos are large communities of people who live in small clusters called alcoves. They usually have between 15 and 20 alcoves. The word "pueblo" comes from the Spanish word for "town." There are still several other important Anasazi sites in the Four Corners area that remain untouched by modern life. Some examples are Chaco Canyon, Hovenweep National Monument, Mesa Verde National Park, Nasca Lake, Paakum School Site, San Juan County Courthouse, and White Sands National Monument.
Ancestral Puebloans lived in these areas for more than 700 years, up until around A.D. 1300. They made their living mostly through farming and hunting but also worked with wood, stone, and clay.
The first Europeans to visit the Cliff Palace were members of an expedition led by Francisco Vazquez de Coronado in 1540. They called it the Great House of Canyons.
Before the 13th century, the Anasazi erected cliff houses. Keet Seel, one of the most significant cliff houses, was first occupied around 950. It is the second biggest cliff residence, having been rebuilt in 1272 to contain 160 rooms. Cliff Palace in Mesa Verde is the biggest. When the 13th century arrived, it was revolution for the Anasazi. New weapons appeared, such as the crossbow and gunpowder, which they had never seen before. Also, there were more invaders coming into their territory. So, some Anasazi leaders decided to move away from their homes and go live in another place. This is when the exodus from the Southwest began.
The refugees built new villages for themselves across the Midwest and East Coast. They also took their skills with them, so pretty soon you could find builders working on projects all over the country. By about 1450, the last of the cliff houses in the Southwest were built.
People think that the Anasazi only lived in the Southwest because there was nothing else happening in other parts of the world. That's not true at all! The Anasazi were very resourceful people who lived off the land and got most of their food from it. When crops failed due to drought or pests, then they would travel up north where there were forests full of game and minerals. They would trade with the natives for seeds and tools.