|Cliff Ruins and Bandelier|
National Monument, NMex
Last week’s post on E-Town, one of New Mexico’s ghost towns, ended with the photo at the left of a cliff dwelling at Bandelier National Monument. This and the many other along-abandoned aboriginal settlements are truly the state’s “ghost towns.” Many are a thousand years old and housed a hardy and enterprising population of Anasazi and Pueblo Native Americans for hundreds of years. After perusing a List of Ancient Dwellings of Pueblo People in New Mexico, I quit counting at 100 with many yet to toll. Some sources estimate there are 15,000 known archaeological sites in San Juan County alone, and that’s likely only a small fraction of what actually exists.
To say that our state is rich in ancient history is an understatement. We are awash in it.
Most of us know about the better known, more famous places like Chaco Canyon and Aztec Ruins and Coronado State Monument. Maybe even Abó and Gran Quivira…or Bandolier and Pueblo Bonita (the biggest house at Chaco Canyon). But how about Kua-Kay (Arroyo Honda) or Burnt Corn near Galisteo, Kin Yaa (Tall House Ruins) near Crownpoint? I could go on, but you get the point.
So what’s the big deal? Why make a blog out of a list of old ruins where no one has lived for hundreds of years? It’s the history, folks. The history of ten thousand years of human occupation of the area. Some of the identifiable ruins where an individual can sit and absorb the “echoing silence” actually date to circa 1500 BCE. Think of the stories lived out in these places. Tales of great good and tremendous evil. Of love and hate. Of life and death. Of rearing babies and building families. Of greed and generosity. Of salvation and murder. Sit among the ancient ruins and absorb them. Let them infect your mind.
Unchain yourself from the “now” and whirl backward in time to identify with these aboriginal peoples and gain some understanding of them. Then go write what the wraiths of these “ghost towns” share with you. Write beautiful stories, horrible stories, but give voice to what you feel.
Share that understanding with others by giving these long-vanished people flesh and blood through your writing. You’ll likely find much of what you’re sensing will be remarkably similar to the current events of today. That thought is both reassuring … and devastating.
That’s it for this week. Thanks for reading, and let me hear from you.
New posts are published at 6:00 a.m. each Thursday.