April 26, 2015

1542 UNITED STATES (Colorado) - Mesa Verde National Park (UNESCO WHS)

Among the American Indian civilizations, that of the Anasazi Indians and of their distant descendants, the Pueblos of New Mexico and Arizona are indeed quite original, owing in part to the substantial rigours of their natural environment: the south-western part of Colorado with its mesas cut by deep canyons. On the high limestone and sandstone plateau, which in one place reaches an altitude of 2,620m above sea level, the climate is semi-arid. The first signs of regular human occupation go back to the 6th century of the current era.

The Mesa Verde landscape is considered to be the type site of the prehistoric Ancestral Puebloan culture, which lasted from c 450 to 1300, on this plateau. There is a great concentration of spectacular Pueblo Indian dwellings. Some 600 "cliff dwellings" have been recorded within Mesa Verde National Park, including the famous multi-storey ones such as Cliff Palace, Balcony House, and Square Tower House, built of sandstone and mud mortar, and an additional 4100 archaeological sites have been discovered.

Constructed sometime between AD 1211 and 1278, Spruce Tree House is the third-largest village, and had 130 rooms and 8 kivas (ceremonial chambers), built into a natural alcove measuring 66m at greatest width and 27m at its greatest depth. It is thought to have been home for about 60 to 80 people. It was discovered in 1888, when two ranchers chanced upon it while searching for stray cattle. A large Douglas Spruce was found growing from the front of the dwelling to the mesa top.

It is said that the men first entered the dwelling by climbing down this tree, which was later cut down by another early explorer. Spruce Tree House was opened for visitation following excavation in 1908 by Dr. Jesse Walter Fewkes of the Smithsonian Institution. Dr. Fewkes removed the debris of fallen walls and roofs and stabilized the remaining walls. Due to the protection of the overhanging cliff, Spruce Tree House had deteriorated very little through the years and has required little supportive maintenance.

About the stamps
The stamps are part of the set A scene in Montana, 75 million years ago, which is part of the series The World of Dinosaurs, about which I wrote here.

Mesa Verde National Park - Wikipedia
Mesa Verde National Park - UNESCO official website
Spruce Tree House - National Park Service

Sender: Denise 
Sent from Greenvale (New York / United States), on 29.03.2015
Photo: Tom Till

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for teaching me some about this area, and showing some wonderful stamps.