Ancient Pueblo Indians in Southwest USA

One recent Saturday, I went on a tour of an ancient Chaco Indian site, near Grants, New Mexico. Here lived early ancestors (Anasazi) of modern Pueblo Indians. Their civilization lasted from 950 AD to 130 AD, before abruptly disappearing. All that is left are the ruins of their houses and kivas, pottery shards, and an occasional skeleton.

The walls of this ruin were well built with lots of thin, flat stones. And some of the main walls are aligned with the solstice, so these people studied astronomy. They knew exactly where the sun came up at the solstice, and the moon too! If you cannot see the photos in this blog, click in the full blog site

The centerpiece of the ruin was called the Greathouse, because it was two stories high. And the upper story is probably where the “chiefs” lived. While the plebs left out in the cold in their animal-skin tents, so they could shoo away the elk and stop them from eating the corn which they had planted.

The red sandstone cliffs in the photo are the Entrada, a common strata in the southwest USA, particularly in Arches National Park in Utah. It’s known for its amazing sandstone arches. The Entrada originally consisted of very large sand hills, later compressed into stone as they were buried by other sediments on top of them.

It was eerie walking around the ruin, thinking about how these ancients lived a thousand years ago. Where they got water in this desert, how they got enough food, and how they kept warm in the cold winters. Did they dam up the water that occasionally cascaded down the red sandstone walls? And did they dig wells? Yet they had enough resources to study the cycles of the sun and the moon, and expend energy building walls to show where the sun would rise at the solstice.

They also built roads, real roads, whose purpose is still being debated (they had no wheels). The roads stretched for miles, and many of them culminated in Chaco Canyon, a separate site about sixty miles away, whose much larger buildings seemed to have served the purpose of a conference center or a spiritual center.

We saw two petroglyphs pecked by these Chacoans in the sandstone walls near the “Owl eyes”. One was a perfect spiral with a large number of turns. The other was an irregular feature that looked like an animal to me. These and many other petroglyphs are the only “written” symbols we have, and are generally not understood.

I was reminded of our Biblical ancients, especially the ones who lived more than two thousand years ago. The prophet Elijah who told the Syrian general Naaman to dunk himself in the Jordan River seven times, to be healed of his leprosy. And Solomon who met the challenge of the Queen of Sheba, who came to test his wisdom. We are so very fortunate to have the written words, and the spiritual insights behind them.

I have also walked around the walls of Jericho, which date back six thousand years. And heard the trumpets of Joshua’s men, and imagined the terrible sound of the walls collapsing.

When I think about the ancients, I realize once again that life is short, and the years flit by faster and faster.  Life is fragile. And it’s good to be reminded of that. Furthermore it’s good to be reassured about heaven, and how to find the road that leads us there.

“So Naaman came with his horses and chariots and stopped at Elisha’s door. Elisha sent a messenger to him saying, Go and wash in Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored. But Naaman was angry, and said I thought he would surely come out to me . And call on the name of the Lord his God, and wave his hand over the place, and heal the leper. So he turned and went away in a rage.

But his servant said to him If the prophet had bid you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? Then he went down and dipped himself seven times in the Jordan. His flesh was restored like that of a little child. Then Naaman returned to the man of God and said Now I know that there is no God in all the earth but in Israel”. (2 Kings 5).

“She said to King Solomon, The report which I heard in my own land of your acts and sayings, and of your wisdom was true. Blessed be the Lord your God, who delighted in you and set you on his throne to be king. He made you king over them to do justice and righteousness”. (2 Chronicles 9).

The Gray Nomad.
Probing the practice of Christian believers….

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7 comments on “Ancient Pueblo Indians in Southwest USA”

  1. Alison (Great Grandmother) says:

    I’ve always felt that we of this century think we are very clever and know it all. Well, this proves us wrong, if these folk knew about solstice and earth movements and how to build roads (probably better than some of ours!) and buildings that have lasted so long, and no doubt had a philosophy far deeper than ours, who are we to boast? How little we really know, and when challenged turn our backs to the truth? And is this not so with our Christian beliefs too? We have so many doubts, when a simple faith will carry us through. And a firm belief that our God will see us safely home when our work is done – it’s such a relief to know that He carries us close when our need is greatest. Perhaps I’m trying to say that if we can accept what the Pueblo Indians did, and they are only one group of many, how come we doubt that our Lord knows what is best for us, though we may not understand why.

    1. ianpalmer4 says:

      Dear Great Grandmother, your words are powerful, and they moved me to tears. Especially “We have so many doubts, when a simple faith will carry us through. And a firm belief that our God will see us safely home when our work is done”. This is simple, transparent faith, like that of a child that Jesus would have held in his arms. Thank you. Thank you.

      1. Kim B says:

        Loved her response…Amen!!! 🙂

    2. Lorraine says:


      Thank you for your beautiful insight in your reply. How right you are! Your words are beautiful and you couldn’t have said it any better.

  2. Christina says:

    There are miracles all around us! Sometimes they are in the form of historical artifacts and sometimes they are in the form of answered prayers. Thank you for sharing your pictures and insights with all of us Ian. We as a family just talked about going there this summer.

    1. ianpalmer4 says:

      Thats a good perspective on miracles Christina….we believe and then we see!

  3. Mary Ann Pollock says:

    Dear Great Grandmother, I just got through reading your beautiful comment and that was exactly what I needed to hear tonight. I thought
    of all the times I could not have made it through the day without my faith in God. He is always there for us and just at the right time, not a minute late.
    You put your thoughts into beautiful words, and I am so thankful you shared those words so I would be able to read them. Thank you so much for being a part of my life. Keep your comments coming.


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