The Enduring Mystery of the Anasazi
Except for the distant cry of a raven, there were only the sounds of my children, a friend and I peeling and munching on orange slices. It was noontime and we were squatting under the cottonwoods in a ravine beneath The Castle, an exquisitely constructed silo-like structure of sandstone at Hovenweep, a cluster of Anasazi ruins in the Utah desert. The trees offered the only shade in the area.
Why these people, whose origins have been traced to Mexico in about 1,200 BC, migrated north onto the Colorado Plateau — present day Arizona, Colorado and Utah — is barely understood. But it is their sudden disappearance about 700 years ago, leaving Hovenweep (which means “deserted valley” in the Piute-Ute languages) and other contiguous “cities” deserted and much as they looked when we passed the heat of the day in that ravine, that remains the most enduring mystery of the Southwestern U.S.
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