Tuesday, December 06, 2005

The Anasazi

here's a report I did on the Anasazi Indians, tell me if you like it.

“The Ancient Ones” or “The Ancient Enemies”

The Anasazi culture had its beginnings almost two thousand years ago. Their fate is one of the greatest mysteries in history because they did not have a written language that archaeologists know of. They migrated many times for almost entirely unknown reasons, and, the entire culture disappeared without a trace.

The Anasazi culture’s immediate ancestral race was an ancient people famous for its intricate hand made baskets. They lived in Chaco Canyon in what is now the Four Corners region, an area in the United States where the edges of the four states, Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah meet. Originally they built cities on the tops of Mesas, but whether war or drought forced them to abandon their homes and move to the steep cliffs that form the walls of the Mesas is unknown. Tree rings show that at the times of most of the Anasazi’s migrations there were severe droughts, lasting from a season to a half-century, these extended droughts may have been one of, or the reason that the Anasazi left, it is still a bit a mystery, because there is no written record of events. When the Anasazi left their Mesa top palaces they built equally magnificent structures in the cliff walls of the mesas, reaching more than five stories in height, some with as many as six hundred rooms.

The next migration they made is thought to have been because of a decade of drought, some of the Anasazi moved away from Chaco Canyon but others stayed in their cliff dwellings. Those who left may have joined other tribes such as the Navajo, and Apache. The cause of the Anasazi’s last migration is uncertain, whether they left because of famine, disease, war, or any combination of the three is still uncertain. One observation archaeologists have made is that they burned all of their Kivas, their holy meeting places probably used in religious practices, as if they knew they would never return, and they didn’t want anyone else using their sacred rooms. What we do know is that they disappeared without a trace, leaving no written records, no tribes that inherited their spiritual practices, almost nothing of their culture survives, except of course their cliff homes.

The Anasazi’s spiritual beliefs, rituals, and most of their religion disappeared with them, but there are some small details about it that are still in existence in and around their homes allowing theories to be constructed. One suggests that the Anasazi’s religion was based on the beliefs of other indian tribes in the area, though that theory does not explain the Kivas. The Kivas may have bee the center of the Anasazi religion. One piece of evidence, found near the that does exist about their religion is that they were ruled by their priests, and that after they finished the rituals or prayers they used the Anasazi would climb out of the Kiva by way of a ladder through the roof, the climb out of the Kiva symbolized the original ascension of humans when they emerged from the underworld by rising through the earth. Most of the Anasazi’s religion is lost but little pieces that are found now and then by Archaeologists and Historians help piece together more and more of the Anasazi’s strange past.

The Anasazi culture both shaped the world they lived in and accepted what the earth gave them, on one hand they built dwellings of stone and adobe and they made lengthy roads, but on the other they they were hunters and gatherers more than they were farmers, they did not develop a huge range of agriculture, only maize and a few other grains. but instead ate many other things including game that the men hunted, roots, nuts, berries, cactus seeds, fruits, and wild honey. They originally made baskets of woven plant fibers encircled with intricate patterns, but later they took up pottery with the same intricacy and beauty. They traded their baskets and their pottery but their main trade was in turquoise. They had huge workshops where fine, turquoise encrusted products were produced and traded for food, clothes or perhaps weapons.

The language the Anasazi spoke seems to be completely lost, it is a dead language. So much of the Anasazi culture is lost that even the name they gave themselves is lost, “Anasazi” is simply the name the Navajo Indians gave them, it means: “the ancient ones” or “the ancient enemies”. The Anasazi’s military position, whether they were peaceful or warlike, is unclear as some sources say that the Anasazi were brutal, warlike, and that they devoured their enemies after battle; others say that they lived almost completely peacefully and only built the cliff cities for protection from the elements and other more dangerous tribes that wished them harm.

Archeologists and Historians are hopeful that the Anasazi mystery will be pieced together, but until then their fate remains one of histories greatest mysteries.