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All the Essentials
The scene in the above photo was one of many Mesa Verde neighborhoods inhabited in the 1200s. The families who lived in the area depended on this landscape to meet their daily needs and to support a rich, full life. This landscape served as their pharmacy, grocery, clothing, and hardware stores. Knowledge of the locations and best uses of natural resources was passed down from generation to generation.
Take a moment and scan the cliffs, canyons, and mesa tops. Where would you look to find essential resources like those described below in the Mesa Verde landscape?
Where would you find water for domestic needs such as drinking, cooking, and making pottery? A primary source is the water emerging from the cliffs as seeps and springs. Where else might you collect water?
Water from seep springs often emerged between two layers of rock; sandstone and shale. Some shale layers provided additional material that Ancestral Pueblo people needed to make items like pottery, mortar, and plaster—clay!
Where would you find good farmland? You could search for areas on the mesa tops to clear fields and plant corn, beans, squash, and useful native herbs using digging sticks. You might also look for shallow drainages in which to build check dams to create moist garden plots.
Where would you find native plants, such as yucca which was used for food, clothing, medicines, and other needs? In some areas, Pueblo people managed wild plants to boost the production of useful parts such as fruit, seeds, and leaves.
Where would you find wood, such as trees and shrubs to use for fires, tool handles, or building timber?
Where would you look for wildlife such as deer, elk, rabbits, and turkeys to supply food, clothing, and tools made of bone or antler? To find them, you could look for game trails, watering spots, or foraging areas.
Where would you find large pieces of sandstone to shape into blocks to build or repair homes, or as metates to grind corn?
Last updated: July 25, 2020