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Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument, New Mexico

Montezuma Castle Nat'l Monument, Arizona, is near the top of a Verde Valley cliff and is one of the best preserved cliff dwellings in North America. The area was briefly abandoned due to volcanic ash from the Sunset Crater Volcano. It is likely that the sediment from that aided in agricultural endeavors when the Sinagua arrived. During the interim, the Sinagua lived on the hills nearby and sustained themselves on agriculture dependent on rain.

Gila Cliff Dwellings in New Mexico - The dwellings were a perfect place for human living. The caves provided adequate shelter, while the wooded area concealed the homes. Impressively, the wood found in these shelters has proven to be original. Dendrochronology (tree ring dating) determined that the wood used in the dwellings was cut down sometime between 1276 to 1287. The nearby area also provided for growing and finding food.

photo by Geraldine Clark - Navajo National Monument on the Shonto plateau, overlooking the Tsegi Canyon system in the Navajo Nation in northern Arizona preserves three of the most intact cliff dwellings of the ancestral Anasazi people. The monument, located west of Kayenta, Arizona, provides tours of the Keet Seel and Betatakin cliff dwellings. The Inscription House site further west, is currently closed to public access.

View along Edge of Upper Level Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument, New Mexico

Montezuma Castle Nat'l Monument, Arizona - After 1125, the Sinagua resettled in the Verde Valley and used irrigation systems left by the Hohokam. The monument itself encloses 826 acres. The latest estimated date of Sinagua occupation for any site is for Montezuma Castle National Monument around 1425 AD. The reasons for abandonment of their habitation sites are not yet known, but warfare, drought, and clashes with the newly-arrived Yavapai people have been suggested.

Interior depths of Rochester Castle, Kent, England